Three Western dams deliver stunning vistas and views for visitors.
Hoover Dam Bypass
Its official name is the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, but whatever you call it, this 1,900-foot concrete span is about as impressive an engineering feat as Hoover Dam itself. Turnouts along the original Highway 93 offer stunning views of the twin-rib arch bridge, which opens to traffic in November. “Hoover seems like an integral part of the landscape,” says Dave Zanetell, the project director. “It’s our hope that the bridge will feel that way to future generations.” (702) 494-2517, hooverdambypass.org .
Many lamented its construction, but O’Shaughnessy Dam, in Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley, now makes a fine viewpoint. Stroll across to spy two waterfalls, the Tuolumne River, and parts of Yosemite Valley, not to mention the eight-mile-long reservoir. Call for road conditions. (209) 372-0200, nps.gov/yose .
When Owyhee Dam was built in 1932 about 20 miles west of the Oregon-Idaho border, it was the world’s tallest, and its successful design served as a prototype for the even more massive Hoover Dam. Today you can walk onto the Owyhee for wide-open, high-desert views of eastern Oregon. (509) 826-1250, usbr.gov/projects .
Photography by David Collier 
This article was first published in November 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.