Since 9/11, the areas of the dam accessible to the public have been greatly reduced. The tour group is accompanied at all times by assault-rifle-toting federal officers who keep a watchful eye on everyone. Keeping the dam secure is serious business and for good reason!
Once you clear security, you board a nice air-conditioned bus and are driven through town to the other side of the dam. After a history briefing about the dam and where the water goes (today grape growers are the major users), the tour descends a few levels under the lake to the pump house balcony. If the pumps are running, you would be able to feel and hear them running. Because the dam was spilling water on the day I was there, there was no need to run the pumps. Still an impressive sight looking down over the green giants.
|Inside the Pump House|
From the pump house, you re-board the bus and are escorted out across the dam. This is the only way the public can cross the top of the dam these days. I was surprised when the bus stopped and we were allowed to disembark. It was so cool to look over the edge of the dam and watch the water cascade down the front of the concrete behemoth. It was a long way down, too!
|Looking Down Over the Rail|
|Rainbow in the Spray|
|View of Power House #3|
|The Columbia River|
|Parked at the Dam|
|Can you spot the bus on the bridge?|
|Concrete Front on Power House #3|
It was a fun way to spend 50 minutes!