Boaters need to be aware that Lake Roosevelt, and access to it, changes dramatically throughout the year, depending on many factors, to which the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Grand Coulee Dam, responds.
Below is a list of the minimum elevations above sea level at which you can launch a boat at launches controlled by the National Park Service.
Know before you go and check the current level of the lake. Read the column under “Forebay”. (The link is to a site maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, which coordinates with the Bureau of Reclamation on operating the lake for flood control purposes.)
As you can see, the lowest level launch is Spring Canyon, just outside Grand Coulee, WA.
MINIMUM BOAT LAUNCH ELEVATIONS
Crescent Bay 1265′
Spring Canyon 1222′
Keller Ferry 1229′
Hansen Harbor 1253′
Jones Bay 1266′
Lincoln Mill 1245′
Hawk Creek 1281′
Seven Bays 1227′
Fort Spokane 1247′
Porcupine Bay 1243′
Hunters Camp 1230′
Bradbury Beach 1251′
Kettle Falls 1234′
Marcus Island 1281′
North Gorge 1280′
Snag Cove 1277′
French Rocks 1265′
Napoleon Bridge 1280′
China Bend 1277′
If you were to rate the reception you get at the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the greatest, you might rate Ivan Snavely’s welcome an 11.
Snavely runs the tour program and the Visitor Center for the Bureau of Reclamation.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” Snavely said last week.
His smile, and interest in meeting and serving people, is contagious.
Snavely has been on the job here for eight years, and recalls when he filled out the applications for a variety of federal jobs. Even though he got other offers, this one, at Grand Coulee Dam, was it.
Snavely likes to talk with people, and they like to talk with him.
It might be because he is a visitor at heart. He may have gotten this trait from the fact that he lived in 20 different places before the first grade.
His father, Ivan said, had jobs that took him all over. Later, his four years in Soap Lake and four years in Yakima must have seemed an eternity to the young boy.
He inherited his interest in travel from his father. In recent years he has been to the Arctic Circle, Peru, Mexico and Columbia. Snavely once lived five years in Mexico.
It looks like Panama has hit his bucket list to visit later this year.
“There’s five books on Panama waiting for me to pick up,” Ivan said. “What a great library system that we have in the North Central Regional Library,” Ivan said, adding that he looks forward to adding another destination to the list of places he has visited.
Also on his list was Vietnam, which will have to wait for another year.
The Navy was another favorite place for Ivan, where he served on the USS Denver. He visited plenty of places in his 4.5 years as a sailor, although, he noted, “the ship didn’t go very fast, so it took a long time getting to places.”
The first thing visitors see when they meet Ivan is the big grin, and they sense that here is a guy who wants to talk.
“We had some 20,000 more visitors last year from the year before,” Snavely noted. “You have some people who just like to visit dams. … I think some of the increase was due to lower gas prices.”
People at the Visitor Center this year will find more interactive things to do.
One of these is the snap circuits where people can build different scenarios by snapping pieces together and learning more about electricity. “We started this about a week ago, and the kids love it,” Ivan enthused.
In another interactive feature, you can learn how to make a solar oven, and you can get a number of solar oven recipes, courtesy of the crew there.
Snively is a big fan of doing new things to help visitors develop a greater interest in learning about the dam.
Snavely and his crew conduct the regular tours and also do a lot of special tours for specific people.
The crew have a lot of contact with students.
“Kids use Coulee Dam for school assignments, and I find myself answering a lot of questions over the phone,” Snavely stated.
“We have talked about taking our story to the classroom as part of an outreach program, and our guides are excited about this,” Ivan shared.
Meanwhile, when you go to the Visitor Center, the guy with the big smile is probably Ivan.
Snavely’s federal jobs have included stints with the Veterans Administration, the Navy, and now as an information person at Grand Coulee Dam.
While only in his late 50s, he says he could retire, but why would you want to do that when you have the “best job” you “have ever had?”
A solid piece of local history got cleaned up and clarified last weekend so people can enjoy and use it more in the present as volunteers from across the state continued work on the Candy Point Trail in Coulee Dam.
The trail has historical significance, having been built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in 1937.
Contacted by Coulee Dam’s Parks and Natural Resources Board, last year the Washington Trails Association cleared brush along the 2.25-mile trail. It extends from behind Coulee Dam City Hall up to Candy Point, a hilltop with a great view of the Grand Coulee Dam and more, passes near Crown Point Vista, with the option to cut over to it, then down to a residential yard on Columbia Avenue through which public access is granted.
This year, with an OK from the Bureau of Reclamationafter it conducted an archaeological survey, around 20 volunteers for the WTA did “tread work” on the trail, helping steady and repair the many stone steps that span lengths of the trail, as well as widening and defining it, clearing rocks, and more.
“It’s one of the best trails I’ve ever seen,” said Alan Carter Mortimer, the WTA crew leader on the project. “I’ve been doing this for 21 years, and … I was just amazed! It blew me away.”
The Ice Age Floods Institute is offering guided hikes in the Upper Grand Coulee area this weekend to the Castle Lake Basin and the Giant Cave Arch in the Barker Canyon area. The hikes are led by geologist Gene Kiver and Bruce Bjornstad. Hikers aged 12 and up must register and pay a fee to participate. Visit the IAFI website by clicking here to read more about it or to register.