Like Henderson, Boulder City (pop. 15,551) was founded and built by the federal government to house workers at Hoover Dam, what was then the largest construction project ever undertaken. Though the dam was completed in 1935, Boulder City continued under federal ownership and management for another 25 years; in 1960, an act of Congress conferred independent municipal status on the town. Longtime residents purchased their houses, and alcohol consumption was permitted for the first time in the town’s history, though gambling remained forbidden. To this day, almost a half century since “independence,” Boulder City remains one of the only town in Nevada that expressly prohibits gambling, which may explain why it feels more like the Midwest than a suburb of Sin City.
If you’re interested in the men and machines involved in building the dam, spend some time at the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum, inside the historic restored Boulder Dam Hotel (1305 Arizona St., 702/294-1988, $89 and up). The hotel also has a good dining room. The town has a handful of motels and fast-food outlets—1950s-style cafés and motels line the Nevada Highway/US-93 Business Route through town—but the real draws are just below Boulder City: the dam, of course, and the lake behind it.
Heading south past Hoover Dam into Arizona, you’ll pass no towns or services in the 78 miles between Boulder City and Kingman on old Route 66, so stock up and fill up here before proceeding on.