Rated 5 out of 5 by flutergork Recommended for a day away from the tables!
When planning our Vegas trip (from NY) and looking for things to do (other than gambling), she saw the river rafting tour and asked me if it sounded like something I would want to try. Well, in our world (and perhaps yours, too), that means, "I want to do this." Since I speak "wife," I did some research and made the reservation.
It was a Wednesday morning (4/27/16). We were picked up at the Aria at 8:20am. The bus made three more stops and picked up another ten or so people. My wife and I are less than forty years old. The new passengers were all above sixty and were together in some kind of group. We started to think that maybe this wasn't going to be for us.
We drove about a half hour out to an outpost somewhere in the vicinity of Lake Mead (I think). The outpost has a few things to buy, like hats and sunscreen, some souvenirs. But mainly it was - for us, at least - a bathroom stop. It is in this outpost that you show your ID and register that you are present so the drivers and tour guides know how many people are in their charge.
There were about thirty other people already at the outpost who were going on the same tour as us, of all ages. We all piled into two buses and headed for the raft dock.
During the trip the bus driver gave some interesting history and information about the road we were on. The drive down the canyon is interesting in its own right, as you descend hundreds of feet on twisting and turning roads with a long drop-off right outside your window. There are guardrails, but you can't help feeling that the bus could just topple right over them. The drive tried to help, saying that there has never been a recorded event of a vehicle going over those rails. It didn't help.
The two buses ended up at the dock, everyone was told which raft was theirs, and we piled on. Our raft had forty-one people, but the tour guide - who is also the raft pilot - said it was rated by the US Coast Guard for sixty.
The River Tour
She (I wish I remembered her name) piloted the raft away from the dock and headed in the direction of the dam. The tour starts as soon as the raft begins moving. She told us a lot of information about the dam's construction, the canyon itself, and what had to be accomplished before any cement could be poured. This all happens right in front of the dam.
As the raft made its way down the river, the pilot told us about small caves and local plant and animal life. She pointed out old equipment along the river, still in place, like museum pieces, gave history on them.
My wife and I didn't see any sheep (not that we were looking for sheep - I've seen sheep, they're not that interesting).
Pretty soon we stopped for lunch at this tiny beach, tiny because the river was high that day. We got off of the raft and climbed a bit up the rocks of the canyon wall, sat down and had the lunch provided by the tour - half of a turkey wrap, an apple, a package of two oatmeal raisin cookies, a bag of Sunchips, and a bottle of water.
We stayed on the beach for about twenty minutes, then got back to business ... which wasn't much. The front half of the tour was full of interesting information and stories, but the back half was pretty empty. There wasn't a lot going on, just scenery. It's beautiful scenery, but the only reason the ride is twelve miles is because that's where the nearest dock is.
Wear the following: sunglasses - the glare off the water can be blinding, and a lot of what there is to see is above you; sunscreen - the sky was overcast when we went, but we still got badly burned; a hat - this would have protected much of our faces, and for guys with thinning hair, your scalp WILL burn; a light jacket - there was a bit of wind when we went, and after lunch, when the action died down and now we're just riding on a raft, it got a bit chilly.
The front of the raft is where the pontoons curve upward. If you sit in this area, you WILL get wet.
The back of the raft is where the engines are and where the pilot sits/stands. This will be the driest place to sit, but you will still feel the water. We sat there and were getting sprayed. The problem with this spot on the raft is the smell of the exhaust from the engines. If that odor bothers you, don't sit there.
The Dam Tour
With our river raft package came a tour of the Hoover Dam. The driver picked us (and three other people) up at the dock and drove us to the dam. During this ride he gave us information on the dam and the river, some of which we had just heard, but a lot we hadn't.
We arrived at the dam. Our driver got us our tickets and shepherded us into the security area.
Just so you know (if you're still reading), since 9/11 the Hoover Dam has airport-level security. You will have to take off your belt, empty your pockets, the whole nine yards.
Anyway, our driver went away and said he would meet us a couple of hours later at the dam's exit.
The tour started with about eighty people filling a small movie theater where they showed us a film on the idea, design, construction, and workings of the dam. It is UN-believable how the dam came to be. I was slack-jawed through the entire film.
It only lasted about ten minutes, and then we were ushered out of the theater, split into two groups, and sent into two elevators, eventually meeting at the bottom. The tour continued here with the guide bringing us into one of the tunnels that feeds the generators. There, he explained how the dam was built, how the tunnels work, and how everything feeds the generators.
Then we went back into the elevators and up to the next floor, where we got a good look at the generators themselves. The guide gave us all of the information about the hydroelectric capacities of the dam, its dimensions, etc. It was amazing.
(Incidentally, this is where my wife checked out; this is not her thing.)
After this part of the tour, we were brought back up to the main area and the guide then told us that the remainder of the tour would be self-guided. Translation: "I'm done."
This part of the tour is, more or less, a museum, chronicling everything we had just heard throughout the day. There were displays and articles, games to teach about electrical generation, and there was even a full size generator that you could walk into and see exactly how it all works.
There is an observation deck, from which you can see the entire dam and Lake Mead in one direction, then turn around and see the Colorado River stretching away fro you.
There is, of course, the obligatory souvenir photo to be purchased, but no one hounding you to do so.
When you exit, you can go left up the hill and back to the parking area. But, you can also go to the right, where there is a monument to the dam and to the people who lost their lives during its construction.
The whole thing is ... awe inspiring.
None, just go and enjoy it.
The river raft tour and the Hoover Dam tour are both great. It was exactly what we needed to recharge after four days of shows and gambling and ... stuff. We definitely recommend it to anyone that needs a break. Oh, and just so you know, it really is for anyone. Generally, my wife and I don't do this kind of thing. But we loved it.
May 1, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Dshofner 12 Mile River Raft Trip with Jody
Jody was a fantastic captain and tour guide! The wealth of information taken away from this trip along with the majesty of the scenic beauty of the land, river, and sky was immense. Far better than being on the concrete jungle in downtown Vegas that's for certain! Kudos to Jody for being an amazing personality and captain for our journey. Certainly a trip of a lifetime.
October 25, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by ChadBrenda Overall great tour with variety from different areas.
The 12 mile trip down the Colorado river was excellent. The tour guide on the boat was very knowledgeable and sociable. The return tour to the Hoover Dam was also excellent and the two tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. Only down side of the trip was the initial pick up was incorrect from Adventure Tours and we were picked up 45 minutes late. The van was definitely not comfortable and the driver/ tour guide was not very personable.
October 14, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by elf13 Great experience!!
This is a fantastic trip that should be taken by everyone who visits the Las Vegas area. Great scenery, fun, knowledgable guides made this an experience to remember!!
August 7, 2015
Rated 2 out of 5 by sadme So disappointed. The ride there in a van with bad shocks ,stuffed in like sardines !
The van that picked us up was in need of shocks, so many bumps and we were stuffed in like sardines. Horrible start! ! The rafting part was awesome. When we arrived in willow beach the ride was there, but insisted on a voucher. HUH? What was he talking about? We were in the middle of our adventure how was I supposed to know it was a whole other tour. ..I had our id, we just got off the raft, but the new tour guide insisted on something I was told Nothing about. He threatened to leave us. I was mortified! ! He had our names and he had our Confirmation number, what more could he need. He did not even want our ID's. Finally I had retrieved an email and he agreed to take us. I was MORE than upset. What would we have done on a beach with no transportation, it was Ridiculous! !! The whole rest of the trip was Regrettable. I would not recommend this tour.
July 4, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Nina14 Awesome way to relax in Las Vegas
The river raft portion of the tour provided awesome scenery and was a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and take a break from the Las Vegas flash and glitter. We enjoyed the tour of the Hoover Dam as well. Just enough time to see it all, take the tour and spend a few minutes wandering, taking pictures and shopping in the gift store. We returned to Vegas refreshed!
February 1, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Costi Great day out
Day started with a raft ride down the Colorado River, if you have Brian as your captain you will be in for a ball, he really made the tour. The little picnic lunch was adequate for what you needed and the best bit was you get to keep the little lunch bag - I do love a freebie. Be prepared to get a little wet if you sit at the front of the raft or on the outer rim, but that's all part of the fun. After the raft ride ( about 2 hours ish) we then got picked up and taken to the Hoover Dam, plant tour included, with plenty of time to look round. I would definitely recommend this tour
October 11, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by KeithCarol Excellent tour guides from pick up to drop off.
Excellent experience. River rafting was unbelievably beautiful. Our knowledgeable guide made sure everyone had enough water and cooling towels. Tour of the Dam has certainly been curtailed since 9/11, but it was very educational. Would highly recommend this tour!
October 9, 2014