Tuesday, July 3, 2012

That Dam Tour

Grand Coulee Dam continues to be a favorite spot of mine to visit. This time around they were actually spilling water over the dam because of spring runoff and the need to control the level of Lake Roosevelt. I finally took the dam tour which was free. Yes, FREE! Provided of course, you were willing to leave just about everything but your camera in your vehicle and then go through a metal detector like at an airport.

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

We were allowed about 10 minutes out on the dam and then it was time to get back on the bus where our driver took us back to our starting point.

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!


  1. Haven't toured Coulee Dam but did go inside Rocky Reach. Bonneville gave me the creeps.

    Nice to see your truck camper. Wish I had one again.

  2. Hey - nice truck and camper! When did you change out?


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