Did you know the Rocky Reach Dam provides power for more than 7 million people around the Pacific Northwest? And it’s right here in our backyard!
For the first time since its opening in the 1960’s and after years of planning, the Rocky Reach Dam Discovery Center underwent some major renovations. For more than 60 years, the Discovery Center has entertained guests young and old with a one-of-a-kind experience of the Columbia River. Now, that experience is new and improved. From underwater windows twice as large to see the dam’s fish ladder system to interactive exhibits explaining how clean, carbon-fee hydropower is produced – the Discovery Center at Rocky Reach Dam has something for everyone in the family.
With a new year-round schedule, guests can expect new interactive exhibits, an expanded installation space, a new second floor deck to view the dam and Columbia River, educational mini-theaters, and more. There is also a riverside café operated by a popular local eatery.
“The Discovery Center is so much more than a place to stop and get a map,” says Debbie Gallaher, Visitor Services Manager for the Chelan County PUD. “It will be one of the premier educational opportunities on the Columbia River. It’s an opportunity for families to learn about the incredible area and its history - and have fun doing it!”
Guests can wander both inside and outside through the center’s eight new exhibit areas, organized around themes including “Living River,” “The People’s Power,” “Hydro Health” and “Fish Tales”.
The steamship wheel, the wood canoe and the Tule Lodge in the Living River exhibit are all longtime favorite objects from the former museum preserved and integrated into the new renovations. With the steamship wheel, visitors can virtually fly a drone up the river or navigate a steamship past the rapids of the “rocky reach” (or section) of the river where the dam was built. The Tule Lodge is a representation of how the Wenatchi’s ancestors lived in the area and is made from lodge poles and tule mats. The dugout canoe on display was found abandoned on the banks of the Columbia River near Rock Island Dam during the construction of the first powerhouse. It was in the Museum of the Columbia and was moved to the Discovery Center during construction.
There is no cost to visit the Discovery Center and from April 1st through October 31st, it will be open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. From November 1st to March 31st, the center will be open 9:30 to 5 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday.