This is the conclusion to our Las Vegas – Los Angeles road trip. If you missed the earlier posts, here is a link to Part 1: USA West Coast Road Trip – Part 1
Day 6: Day roundtrip to Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon West – 264 miles
We headed out early to not only drop off some laundry (we packed light), but also to get some breakfast away from the strip. In the end, we ate at a local place called Omelete House 50s Diner next to the laundromat (!) but it was an excellent breakfast and great value for money. Our plan for the day was to drive to the Hoover Dam and then on to the Grand Canyon West location, and back again.
Our first stop was the Hoover Dam. We stopped at a lookout over Lake Mead first before driving down and over the dam wall. The water level in this lake has been going down steadily due to drought conditions. We first visited it in 2013 and we were quite shocked to see how low it was now compared to back then. You can clearly see the original water level in the picture below.
The Hoover Dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936 and is in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border of Nevada and Arizona. You cross into Arizona right in the middle of the dam wall 🙂 Dam construction involved thousands of workers and over a hundred lost their lives during the project. The nearby Boulder City was originally constructed for workers during the construction project. The dam’s generators provide power in Nevada, Arizona and California, but electricity output has been decreasing along with the falling water levels of Lake Mead.
From the Hoover Dam, you get a clear view of The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which is an arch bridge spanning the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona. This bridge is part of Interstate 11 (I-11) and its construction was completed in 2010 at a cost of $114 million. What makes it more interesting, is the fact that it is the highest concrete arch in the world and the second widest one in the Western Hemisphere. It is 890 feet (270 meters) above the colorado river. Impressive!
We drove back to I-11, over the bridge and made our way to our next destination – Grand Canyon West and the glass SkyWalk. It was a long drive, but we were rewarded with truly breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon once we arrived. This is my second visit to the Grand Canyon and it still took my breath away. The surrounding areas are so flat and well, unremarkable, and don’t give any indication of the sheer drop ahead.
Grand Canyon West is the Tourism Area of the Hualapai Nation, an Indian Tribe located in northwestern Arizona. There are two distinct areas: Eagle Point and Guano Point. The SkyWalk is at Eagle Point and is the busier area of the two. The line for the SkyWalk was very long, but we had tickets so we braved the heat for the hour-long wait outside. It was quite a relief to get inside the building finally. Even so, it took another 30 minutes to finally walk on the glass. Talk about a unique experience! You walk on this horse-shoe-shaped glass walkway and can see the canyon and the river all the way below your feet. 4000 feet (1.2km) below your feet, to be exact.
After our glass walk, we explored the general area before catching the shuttle to Guano Point. Here we walked around and were able to get as close to the edge as we could handle. Yep, no railings here! This specific viewpoint gives you even more dramatic views of the canyon than the area around the SkyWalk (in my opinion).
If you wondered about the name, yes, there was guano in the area. In the 1930s bat guano was discovered in a cave and inspired many attempts to mine the guano for fertilizer. The US Guano Corporation bought the property in 1950 and spent $3.5 million on a tramway to mine the expected 100,000 tons of guano, which was estimated to be worth $12 to $15 million. The cableway crossed the river and had a main span of 7,500 feet. Ten years later, the cave was fully mined yielding only about 1,000 tons. Much less than what was predicted to be in there. All that is left now is the structures since an Air Force jet clipped the cable and permanently disabled it.
Back in Vegas
It was time to start the more than 2-hour drive back to Las Vegas. We also had to pick up our laundry on the way into town. We rested at our hotel for a bit and it was soon time to discuss dinner options. We decided to head over to the main area of the Las Vegas Strip and walk around. Here there are plenty of sights to see and we spent some time at the Bellagio Fountain to watch the water show.
Although tired, we walked around a bit and ended up at The Venetian where we decided to have dinner at Noodle Asia.
As usual, we ate way too much and needed another walk before we could head back to our hotel.
Day 7: Hotel Day
After all the driving and walking and sightseeing, we needed a day to recharge. Sidney and I spent most of the day around the hotel and pool area, while Pieter got his chance to visit the casino floor. He even worked in a couple of poker games and won some cash. A thunderstorm rolled in during the afternoon and the pool area was closed down. This forced us back to our room where we read a bit before taking a small nap 🙂 What is a vacation without daytime napping?
Early evening we headed back to the main strip for dinner and a show. Dinner was at “Flights Las Vegas” and unfortunately had to be rushed as our show was ready to start. We picked “V – The Ultimate Variety Show” which offered different speciality acts and stunts. Pieter volunteered for one of the comedy acts and won two tickets to a Hypnosis show the same night. Since he only got two tickets, Sidney and I went to the show and he went to the Planet Hollywood casino. Sidney also volunteered to be hypnotized, but it didn’t work on her.
After the last show ended, the three of us met up again to take a last night-time walk on the main strip. We just had to stop and watch another Bellagio water show – I just can’t get enough of them! We worked our way up the strip passing Paris, Bally’s and The Venetian before returning to Planet Hollywood to catch our Uber back to the hotel.
Day 8: Final Day
By this point we were tired! We slept in a bit and checked out of the hotel right at 11. Sidney wanted to try the SkyJump (crazy girl) and on our way out we inquired about tickets. Unfortunately, they were fully booked due to all the jump cancellations during the previous afternoon’s thunderstorm. So this came off the to-do list. I was secretly relieved – don’t know if my mother’s heart would have been able to take this type of stress!
Our flight wasn’t until 7pm so we had some time to kill. First on the list was brunch, which we found at Lou’s Diner. What a lovely local spot! Open since 1969 it is a favorite among the locals and so worth it. We got a corner booth and had a great meal together.
We opted for some more shopping at the Fashion Show Mall (remember, it is air-conditioned and has safe parking for a car full of luggage) before taking our final drive up and down the Las Vegas strip. Soon it was time to head to the rental car center and back to the airport.
Our flight left late and included an hour’s stopover in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here we had another delay, something to do with the passenger count/list. We had no choice but to sit in the hot airplane while they were counting and recounting passengers. Finally, we were able to take off and continue on to Atlanta. We landed very early in the morning and took an Uber back home.
This was really a great road trip and vacation. It was fun spending time with Sidney and showing her a part of the country she’s never been to before. And of course for all of us to experience Los Angeles together. She is a great travel buddy and had no problem hanging out with “the parentals”. We missed Simon on this trip, but he had his own adventure in Europe.
We drove around 1000 miles in total and spent around $3500 on this trip.
Thanks for following along and I hope to include you on another adventure one of these days!