sheer face (seen from Bonneville Dam) is the result of an earthquake 300-600
years ago (debate still ongoing) which shook the landscape so hard that the
massive south face slipped off and slid down to push the Columbia River 1
mile south and block it with a 300 foot rubble dam, forming an inland sea
and the Bridge of the Gods. This event is known as the
A 'stones throw' from Multnomah Falls, this addition is convenient to add or
substitute for other stops. See salmon & sturgeon up close and view
the inner workings of this magnificent dam.
Built in the 1930s during the Great Depression, the lock & dam is the oldest
of about 14 federal dams built on the Columbia River. Enjoy watching
salmon and other fish swim up the ladders; take a tour and visit the
powerhouse and the navigation lock.
The historic Bonneville Fish Hatchery
is located just below the dam and has pools of sturgeon (see below) and
trout. You may view young salmon in the rearing ponds and during the
fall see them process the adults.
It was a FDR New Deal project aimed at
providing hydropower production, fish and wildlife protection, recreation
and navigation. Inside the
visitors center you may view the fish ladder, where fish return from the
ocean to their birthplace to spawn. You may take a guided tour through the
powerhouse, and watch the turbines at work. We can also visit the
neighboring historic sturgeon pond & viewing center (see below). And if we see a tugboat
or barge coming, we can hurry to the shipping canal to see them locked through to
the upper level of the river.
The Dam spans the
Columbia River and links the two states. Since 1938, Bonneville Dam
has supplied the region with inexpensive electrical power. Today, they work with
other federal, state, local agencies and Native American Tribes to accomplish
their mission. With one of the largest public viewing facilities in the
U.S. Corps of Engineers; visitors have lots to see and learn at Bonneville Lock and
Take a guided tour through the
visitor's center & powerhouse, and watch the turbines at work. The
Washington Shore Facility offers something extra special. You can walk
on top of an operating generator and look inside the spinning shaft.
Sturgeon in the Viewing Center
- Photo by Kathy Munsel-
The fish hatchery and dam are open year-round from
9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is best to visit the dam in the months of April
through September when the salmon are more abundant, but you can view fish
at any time of the year.
fish viewing windows
and visitors' centers on both the Oregon and
Washington sides of the dam*.
We also can see the
historic fish hatchery, sturgeon pond & sturgeon viewing center
video). You'll see Herman the Sturgeon, the 11 foot long,
500 lb., 70 year old resident lurking among his huge pre-historic relatives
in the Sturgeon pond. Sturgeon are 'dinosaurs with fins', the oldest fish
on the planet, about 200 million years old. The Columbia River has
the largest population of white sturgeon on the planet, about 1,000,000
below Bonneville Dam. Hatchery and dam are open year-round from 9:00 am
to 5:00 pm.
* Because of security concerns, visitors may
be required to show ID, and it is not possible to cross the entire dam.
During most of the year, more fish use the Washington shore fish ladders, so
fish viewing may be better on the Washington side of the dam. Guided
powerhouse walks (free; 45 minutes) on the Oregon side are scheduled hourly
or bi-hourly from 10-4 daily and on the Washington side they are scheduled
at 10:30, 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. every day. Call 541-374-8820 on the
morning of your tour to check on tour availability or schedule a private
tour for large groups. Self-guided tours of the facilities (9-5pm) are
For security reasons: Backpacks & purses are not allowed on the Powerhouse
tour. In Addition, A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF ALL ATTENDEES ON THE POWERHOUSE
TOUR IS REQUIRED. Give the list to your Bonneville Dam guide when you
arrive at the Dam visitor center.