Located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Las Vegas, the mighty Hoover Dam stands as an indelible testament to the power of engineering and the human will. More than 725 feet (221 meters) high and spanning the width of the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam's 17 generators create enough electricity to serve around 1.3 million people in Nevada, Arizona and Colorado [sources: U.S. Department of the Interior, Hoover Dam FAQ; U.S. Department of the Interior, Hydropower FAQ].
Sure, there are dams out there larger than Hoover, but there aren't many as impressive, especially considering the fact that construction of the dam started more than 80 years ago. More astonishing still is the fact that the dam took only five years to construct, despite requiring more than 5 million barrels of cement and well over 100 million pounds (45 million kilograms) of metal to build [source: U.S. Department of the Interior, Hoover Dam FAQ].
Simply driving up to the roadway turnouts on each side of Hoover Dam is quite an experience, but if you're interested in learning more about the dam, you can be one of around a million visitors to take a tour of the structure and its power plants every year. During these tours, you'll get an up-close look at the dam's equipment, as well as some truly impressive panoramic views of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and the surrounding area, all while learning about how the dam was constructed and how it operates today.
Hoover Dam demonstrates the benefit of harnessing the power of nature, but there's something to be said for leaving some places untouched, which is why we have nature sanctuaries like the next destination on our list.