Grande Dixence Dam
Sion Region, Valais, Switzerland
The Barrage de la Grande Dixence is the world's highest concrete gravity dam, standing 285 meters (935 feet) high with a thickness of 200 meters or 656 feet at the base. The public walkway at the top of the dam is 2,365 meters or 7,759 feet above sea level. What's more, you needn't be an alpinist to get there--you can simply drive, hike, or mountain-bike up to the dam's base and ride a télépherique, or aerial cablecar, to the top of the 15,000,000-ton concrete wall.
Once you're at the top, you'll enjoy fine views of the Val d'Hérens and the Lac des Dix, which extends 4 km or 2.5 miles into the Dix Valley behind the dam. You can also take a four-hour nature hike along the Ibex Trail, where you'll enjoy views of alpine flora and fauna, mountains, and glaciers.
Less strenuous tourist activities include son et lumière (sound and light) tours inside the dam and a pavillon d'exposition with exhibits and a 30-minute audivideo show. A hotel, restaurant, and souvenir shop are next to the pavillion and the base of the dam.
The Grande Dixence Dam is open to the public from June 15 through September 30. It's less than an hour by road from historic Sion, the capital of Switzerland's mountainous canton of Valais, and it's just above the delightful Evolène region with more than 250 km of footpaths and 100 km of mountain-biking trails. For more information, including visiting hours, see:
Finally, see the next page for a series of captioned photos of (and from) the Grande Dixence Dam.
Next page: Grand Dixence Dam photos
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