Category Archives: To Dos

Things to do in the Coulee area

Laser Light Show starts nightly on May 28

laser show

 

Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center Begins Laser Light Show May 28

GRAND COULEE, Washington – On May 28, Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center will begin its extended summer season hours, along with its Laser Light Show which plays nightly through the end of September.

Visitor Center hours will be from 8:30 a.m. until one hour past the start of the Laser Light Show. Through the end of July, the show will begin at 10 p.m. For August, the show begins at 9:30 p.m. and for September, 8:30 p.m.

May 28 will also begin an increase in the number of public tours into the John W. Keys III Pump-Generating Plant. These one hour tours occur daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visitors will ride a shuttle bus to the pumping plant to view gigantic pumps lifting water from Lake Roosevelt to Banks Lake, which then delivers water throughout the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. The shuttle will then take visitors across the top of Grand Coulee Dam for spectacular views of Lake Roosevelt and the Columbia River.

Tours are on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations are taken and space is limited.

For more information call the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center at (509) 633-9265. Or visit:  http://www.usbr.gov/pn/grandcoulee/visit/index.html

Northrup Canyon invites you

A spring hike up Northrup Canyon puts you in the midst of a thriving environment between coulee walls.
A spring hike up Northrup Canyon puts you in the midst of a thriving environment between coulee walls.

Soon, Northrup Canyon will be full of green. If you like a nice hike, this one is recommended.

It’s a great place to shake off winter and welcome spring. A creek runs through part of it, and a blue sky gives a beautiful contrast to the basalt coulee walls that rise up closely on either side.

Don’t forget to take water. It can be a three- to four-hour hike, or more, depending on how far you want to go.

An old homestead of the Northrup family sits at at nice turnaround spot at the top of the canyon. But you can go further, up a rough trail to a small hidden lake.

A restroom and information kiosk sits near gate at the beginning of the trail, but there no facilities past that. As a part of the state park system, a Discover Pass is required to visit. The most convenient place to get one is at Coulee Playland in Electric City.

 

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.

Native art show in Grand Coulee

IMG_0782

An outdoor native American art exhibit and sale is happening this weekend on Midway Ave. across from Coulee Hardware in the parking lot of Body by Dam.

The judged show and market features several artists from across the northwest and a style not often seen.

You may be familiar with the art of coastal tribes with stylized whale images, for example. Or you might readily recognize the art of Southwest tribes, with prominent turquoise and silver.

But this show is called The First Ever Platuea Native Art Exhibit. Entries can win up to $400 for first place.

The event is being coordinated by the Northwest Native Development Fund

Free junior rodeo this weekend, July 18-19.

A tiny rider races the barrel course at the Ridge Riders Junior Rodeo.
A tiny rider races the barrel course at the Ridge Riders Junior Rodeo.

The Ridge Riders’ Junior Rodeo opens at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19 and is free.
With 180 contestants from as far away as British Columbia and Ellensburg (and we saw California plates in contestants’ parking lot) the competition is stiff and the skills on these young cowboys and cowgirls impressive.
The Junior Rodeo involves both boys and girls up to the age of 18.
Young cowboys and cowgirls in several age groups will compete in such events as barrel racing, dummy roping, calf riding, bull riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, chute dogging and steer wrestling.
Top placers will get championship belts, and there will be all-round awards.