Dams are some of the more interesting places to visit during a vacation. They can be stopped at as one of the planned attractions on an itinerary, used as a place to get a quick bite to eat while passing by on a road trip, or even stopped at spontaneously upon learning that it’ll be nearby. There are a lot of things that can be done at dams too. Chief among those things is just marveling at the engineering accomplishment of building a huge structure across an entire river.
Anyone traveling through North Central Washington will have a long list of dams worth stopping at. From the famous Grand Coulee Dam in the north to Priest Rapids dam in the southern part of the region, there are seven major dams spanning the Columbia River there. Many of them are open to tours, have visitors centers, and are very picturesque in their very own ways.
One of those dams that is very much worth visiting is Rocky Reach Dam. Rocky Reach Dam reaches across the Columbia River a few miles north of the city of Wenatchee and just off of Highway 2 which is one of the major east-west routes across the state of Washington. The dam is home to all anyone needs to make it a great stop.
There is a huge open playground at the dam that is perfect for kids to get out and stretch their legs or whole families to have a picnic lunch. The outdoors area is also home to some incredible gardens, including a huge replica of the American flag done in flowers. There are some nice picnic shelters and an old turbine engine that was rescued from the scrap heap and mounted so visitors can get an idea of what the hydroelectric producing engines that reside deep in the dam look like up close. The views from all of these areas are impressive too, whether looking downstream on the Columbia, up to the dam itself, east across the river to the orchards on the other side, or west to the sagebrush covered steep hillsides.
Inside the visitor center at Rocky Reach Dam is a great little cafe that is perfect for a quick bite to eat. There are also several examples of antiques located there that help tell the story of the era of the dam being built. Going downstairs in the Rocky Reach Dam Visitor Center leads to a small movie theater that shows some historical documentary style short films about the dam and the Columbia River. Visitors who time their visit will also get to see an episode of the television series Dirty Jobs which came and paid a visit to the dam and featured it on the Discovery Channel show. Down further from there, travelers will be treated to the fish viewing windows. It is there that several glass windows look right out on the water of the Columbia as it pours down the dam’s fish ladder. Depending on the season, there will be any number of fish swimming up and down the ladders. Some of them are very small and others are quite large. Some will even be traveling upstream after having been all the way down in the Pacific Ocean.
After the visitors center has been experienced, visitors are welcome to walk out on the dam itself where The Museum of the Columbia is located. This very well done museum treats viewers to some interesting history about the Columbia River and what it has meant to the people who have lived on its shores for centuries. Out there in this part of the dam, travelers will also be able to see artwork, more antiques and historical items, view the power plant where the creation of electricity is done, and finally get to the best place on the dam to view the spillways from.
Rocky Reach Dam is an exceptional attraction for anyone of any age who is visiting the Wenatchee area. It can more than handle the job of entertaining anyone.