Tag Archives: dam

Watch out for sneaky water levels

Low lake coming up
The level of Lake Roosevelt has been held low for flood control, but will now rise through July 11.

Camping or boating on Lake Roosevelt?
Watch yourself and the lake, which will continue to rise at a couple feet a day, even on the Fourth of July.

 

That means you shouldn’t pitch your tent too close, or you might be floating before you wake up.
And your boat, anchored out very far, could lift its anchor as the water rises. Good luck finding it the next morning. Better to tie it off at shore with a long rope.

Lake Roosevelt likely won’t be full until about July 10 or 11 this year, a good week later than most years due to the late spring runoff.

New tours offered at Grand Coulee Dam

A stop on the top of the dam is a good photo op for visitors.

The new tours of Grand Coulee Dam take about an hour and afford visitors the opportunity to go into the Third Powerhouse and ride across the dam with a stop to look over the spillway.
Visitors this week will likely get an extra thrill when they stop for a spillway look because Bureau officials say that the facility will start spilling water sometime this week.
Visitor tours start with a briefing by tour guides who provide information about the dam, often with a humorous touch. Then its into a 20-passenger bus or a van for the driving part of the tour.
Visitors get to go through security control gates and ride to the lower portion of the Third Powerhouse, where they get out and walk into prescribed areas of the building housing six huge generators. Security is tight, but done in such a way that it isn’t intrusive.
Visitors tour the massive Third Powerhouse

All along the way, tour guides provide pertinent information and answer scores of questions. They either have the answers at hand or are quick to admit that they don’t know.
Tours begin at 10 a.m. seven days a week and go on the hour all day long.
Tour officials said people going on the tours should arrive 15 minutes early due to security reasons.
But we’ll tell you that if it looks like a real busy season, show up an hour early.
Here’s another tip you may only get at this blog: If you have a choice between the small bus and van, take the van. Those are driven by USBR tour guides who will tell you interesting facts as they drive you around the site. The buses are staffed by bus drivers. They drive.
The tours begin at the building at the east end of the dam almost directly across from the Visitor Center. No bags or purses are allowed on the tour because of security concerns; accordingly, visitors are encouraged to lock them in their cars. That includes camera bags (although cameras are OK) and even diaper bags.
Either before or after the tour, see the interactive exhibits at the Visitor Center, and catch a short movie or two about the history of the dam.

Hot off the press — almost

It’s not even on the streets yet, but here you get to see our latest print edition of the Grand Coulee Dam Area Visitors’ Guide, 2011-2012 issue.

Flip through it and tell us what you think in the comments!

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A Quick Overview

Welcome to the Grand Coulee Dam area of Washington state.
Just for a quick overview, here are a few facts about the area to help you decide if you’d like to visit.

We’re about 100 miles from the eastern border with Idaho, on the dry side of Washington. Seattle-ites come here to get away from rain, and we’re even a lot drier than Spokane, about 50 miles to the east (90 by road). I used to drive all over eastern Washington on  a daily basis and routinely found it cloudier in Spokane than elsewhere, due to the mountains to the east that block the weather from moving further inland.

The dam and surrounding towns are in the northeastern tip of central Washington’s semi-arid desert, which is tucked between wheat land to the south and east, and forest, to the north and east.

We’re surrounded by water and undeveloped beaches. From my house in Coulee Dam (just below the dam in the photo above) I can drive 5 to 15 minutes in any direction to reach one of five boat launches on three different lakes offering more than 600 miles of shoreline. Beaches are mostly undeveloped because the land is federally owned and open to everyone. State, federal and private campgrounds are top notch and drop-dead gorgeous.

You won’t find any national motel chains, but many local owners have taken great pride in their facilities and can offer you a very comfortable stay. I’ve had many people tell me they were pleasantly surprised.

We have a good selection of restaurant types, including Asian, Mexican, typical American, pizza/Italian, breakfast nookish and progressive café. I like them all.

We have great hiking trails, spectacular views and abundant wildlife and fishing, three golf courses within driving distance, and even a great little airport for you pilots.

If any of this interests you, take a closer look around.