Visitors using Instagram are always posting how amazed they are when they see Grand Coulee Dam.
“It amazes me how humans built this large, amazing structure more than 80 years ago!” wrote @lishlo this morning in a public post.
The Bureau of Reclamation has produced a top quality documentary on the building of Grand Coulee Dam to show you the amazing story behind the immense effort, the big thinking, innovation and, yes, even politics it took. If you want to visit it, you’ll appreciate it even more if you understand the whole story, so we’ll post the video here, which you can also watch on a big screen in comfortable seats at the Visitor Center when you get here.
There’s so much happening in the Grand Coulee Dam Area this Memorial Day weekend, it’s hard to know where to start.
Isle of Flags
But rightfully, that has to be an annual service called the Isle of Flags. It’s a tribute to local veterans who’ve passed on, but anybody from anywhere would find this simple, 40-minute ceremony overlooking Lake Roosevelt to be inspiring. More than 500 U.S. flags will fly in tribute at Spring Canyon Cemetery, along with those about to be dedicated.
The Isle of Flags ceremony starts at 11 a.m. Monday.
Cleatis Lacy Memorial Bull Riding and Wild Horse Race
Saturday, May 24 at 4 p.m. at the site of the best rodeo in the state, cheers will echo off the the coulee wall as cowboys take on the toughest 8 seconds in all of sports, riding bulls who know how to throw them like rag dolls. This event will also feature a wild horse race in which teams of three try to harness, saddle and ride through barrels horse so spirited they refuse to be “broke” in the old cowboy sense of the word. Admission is $10, or $8 for students. Kids under 10 get in free. And if you don’t have your kids with you, feel free to watch from the Ridge Riders’ whiskey and beer garden.
Largest laser show in North America debuts Saturday at 10 p.m.
On Saturday night at 10 p.m., the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will debut its new laser light show on the face of Grand Coulee Dam. At more than a mile wide and as high as the Washington Monument, it’s the largest laser light show in North America. And it’s free.
This new show features all-new content on the history of the Columbia River, its people, the dam and its effects on the region and nation. The production and equipment to show it cost $1.6 million and replaces the original show that ran for 25 years.
I’ve seen some preview clips on the Internet, but I’m not going to post them here. Those do the show a disservice, because you cannot get the same effect reducing a mile-wide spectacle to a tiny screen. Just come and see it. The best place to watch it is at the Visitor Center at the dam or in the park just below the VC. But below is photo of people watching the show that ran for 25 years.
One of the great things about being located where there is a part of the National Park Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and a great state park is that those entities all come with talented, interesting people.
And some of those folks will put on an interesting program for free this Saturday night.
A community astronomy program will be held July 9, beginning at Grand Coulee Dam’s Visitor Center at 7:15 p.m. and ending up at Crown Point at 9 p.m., according to Janice Elvidge of the National Park Service.
Elvidge will begin the night’s program in the Visitor Center auditorium where she will present an introduction to the night sky and explore through pictures some of the wonders of the heavens.
After that part of the program, those attending will retire to Crown Point where they will get to take a look at the galaxy, a nebula, the moon and one of our solar system’s planets through a telescope.
The Crown Point overlook, by the way, is a rather out-of-the-way must see, to which you might wish to return the next morning if you haven’t been there yet. It offers a fantastic view down river and up lake way over the top of the dam.
And if you’re a geo-cacher, there’s a nearby treasure to find. I’ll bet even Elvidge doesn’t know that.
Elvidge encourages people to bring their telescopes, spotting scopes or binoculars, if they have them, and to wear warm clothes.
She said the program will only be cancelled if it rains.
The event is sponsored by Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Washington State Parks, and the Bureau of Reclamation.