Category Archives: Places to See

Places you want to go

We’ve been discovered again.

We love it when you visit us!
And the view you’ve shown in your Instagram account, from the Crown Point Lookout, always inspires.

Thanks for stopping by.

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From Instragram: jenkrajicek    Detour to Grand Coulee Dam. This is what happens when I let Henry navigate

 

Wondering how Henry found this great viewpoint?

Below is a map. From the Visitor Center at Grand Coulee Dam, take a left to go uphill on highway 155. Continue to the intersection with highway 174 and turn right. Follow 174 until you see the sign directing you to Crown Point Overlook.

This is a state park site, and a Discover Pass is required, but the view of the dam and down river is spectacular.

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Take a tour on a bridge

Take a tour on a bridge.
Porcelain enamel signs on either side of the bridge across the Columbia River provide a history of the dam and the area’s geology. Parking is available on the streets on the west side of the river.

You can take a unique tour on the bridge across the Columbia River, simply by walking across it and reading several signs depicting history and geology.

The tour is self-guided and free.

It takes advantage of the four-foot-wide sidewalks along each side of the 950-foot span across the river to tell the story, on the upstream side of the bridge, of the building of the dam.

Cross over to the downstream side and you’ll find out just how the site was formed geologically. Its fascinating prehistory led to this being the perfect site to build the Grand Coulee Dam. (Hint: humans weren’t the first to make a dam here.)

Depending on how fast you read, walk and absorb the fantastic story, the tour could take from a half hour to an hour.

Or, if you just want a brisk walk in a unique location with an unobstructed view of the dam, this is a good one.

It’s an exciting walk for most people, and safe, but if you’re extremely queasy about heights, this could be a little too exciting.

The bridge itself rests on two monolithic piers that rest securely on bedrock, each 150 feet high. Approximately 300 tons of structural carbon and silicon steel makes up the cantilever truss bridge that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began to build in late 1934.

It was designed by the Washington Department of Highways for the Columbia Basin Commission to serve a dual purpose, according to documents on file with the Historic American Engineering Record. It would initially serve in the transport of heavy equipment during construction of the dam, then as a permanent highway bridge for State Route 155. That meant the bridge was built to a heavier specification than normally would have been used for a highway bridge.

But as construction of the bridge neared completion, the east pier tilted nine inches, probably because of a deposit of fine glacial material that lay beneath the 20 or 30 feet of gravel at the surface layer.

The incident delayed completion of the bridge for several months, while a 50-ton jack, cables and 72-foot deadman steel beams on the shore kept all in place until the foundation was secured through the construction of pneumatic caissons.

Huge laser show projected on Grand Coulee Dam

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A 300-foot-tall coyote face stares out from the face of Grand Coulee Dam during the laser show, shown nightly in the summer.

The laser light show that explains the history of the area and the dam shows nightly through the season. It’s the largest outdoor show in North America and is something to see, newly updated in 2014.

What time does the laser light show begin?

The laser show is held nightly at Grand Coulee Dam as follows for 2015:

May 23 to July 31 at 10:00 p.m.

Aug. 1 to Aug. 31 at 9:30 p.m.

Sept. 1 to Sept. 30 at 8:30 p.m.

The show is about 28 minutes in length. There is no admission fee. Call 509-633-9265 for more information.

How long is the laser show?

The laser light show lasts approximately 28 minutes, during which time colorful images created by the lasers move back and forth across the huge surface of the dam.

Where can I view the show?

The best locations are the seating area at the Visitor Center and from the park below the Visitor Center. These areas provide an outdoor sound system.

The town of Coulee Dam has a park —  terraced and  grassy for viewing the laser show — adjacent to the east end of the Columbia River bridge.

Other viewing spots: from Douglas Park in Coulee Dam; from Crown Point atop the granite cliffs above Lake Rufus Woods, access from SR174 towards Bridgeport.

The USBR broadcasts the audio portion of the laser light show nightly at 90.1 FM.

What is a laser?

Lasers are intense beams of light commonly used in medicine and science, but they’ve also found a niche as a high-tech, fast-moving form of entertainment. They are controlled by computers which, at Grand Coulee Dam, are in the Visitor Center.

Although a single dot of light, lasers can trace an image so rapidly it appears as a solid figure to the human eye.

The term laser is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is so commonly used now that the tradition of using capital letters for an acronym has been dropped.

How are the lasers used at Grand Coulee Dam?

As one of the largest entertainment laser projection systems in the world,  and certainly the largest outdoor laser show in North America, the lasers at Grand Coulee Dam tell the story of the Columbia River and how its power was harnessed to provide multiple benefits to mankind, including electrical power, irrigation for farming and exciting recreational opportunities. As a result of the open process of scripting the show new in 2014, viewers will also understand the costs of building the dam — cost to wildlife,  and to native peoples whose way of life was dependent on that wildlife, in particular, the salmon that no longer could continue upstream to spawn.

How much did the lasers cost?

With the original equipment in use since 1989, the Bureau of Reclamation commissioned a new show and new equipment. The equipment began operation in May of 2013, but projecting the new show began in May, 2014. Lumalaser, of Oregon, bid the project at $1.6 million.

How big are the laser images?

Pictures are beamed at the awesome height of nearly 300 feet.

How far do the lasers project?

The laser lights are beamed between 2,000 and 4,000 feet to the surface of the dam.

Great things to do at Spring Canyon this weekend

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Saturday August 2, 2014
3:30-4:00pm Birds and Beaks
Join Ranger Deb in the day-use area in front of the Spring Canyon Exploration Center Building and learn about why birds have their particular beaks.
30 minutes.
6:00pm Bunchgrass Prairie Nature Trail Plant Walk.
Join Ranger Deb on a ½ mile walk on the Bunchgrass Prairie Nature Trail in the campground at Spring Canyon. We will be talking about the areas native plants and also learning about some invasive plants and their roles in the ecosystem. Please meet at the trailhead.
45-60 minutes.
 Please bring water and apply sunscreen.
 This is a very active bee and wasp area. Please, no bare feet and have epinephrine if highly allergic.
Sunday August 3, 2014
9:30am Crescent Bay Canoe Trip
Join Ranger Deborah for a free canoe trip exploring the wonders of Crescent Bay Lake. We
supply the canoes, paddles, life jackets and instruction. Beginners are welcome but an adult must
accompany children under 16.
 The trip is limited to 17-19 people, so reservations are strongly encouraged. Please make your reservations in person at the Spring Canyon Exploration Center on Saturday August 2, 2014 between 1:30-3:30.
 You must have your own transportation for the 10 minute drive to Crescent Bay Lake.
 Bring water. No water=No Go.
 Approximately 2 ½ hours, including drive time.

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