Located in the Columbia River Gorge, the Bonneville Dam is a fascinating structure that uses the pure power of the Columbia River to create electrical power for the surrounding area. Find out more about this local attraction below and why it’s worth visiting during your visit to Hood River!
A Cool Hood River Attraction to Visit
The Bonneville Dam in Oregon was named for Captain Benjamin Bonneville of the United States Army, who later became an explorer known for exploring and recording the majority of the famous Oregon Trail.
After the recommendation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1929, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression enabled the government to create the Bonneville Dam and harness the power of the mighty Columbia River in a way that simultaneously supplied energy and boosted the economy of the Pacific Northwest, creating industries in aluminum and other materials in the region. The dam was completed in 1937 after three years of construction. At the time it was built, the Bonneville Lock was one of the largest locks in the world. However, it eventually became the smallest of eight locks on the river.
Various species of fish make their home on the upper and lower portions of the Columbia River near Bonneville Dam, including steelhead, salmon, and white sturgeon. The dam has had an unfortunate environment effect on the mating migration of these fish. To combat this detrimental effect, the ingenious fish ladders that the dam sports allow native salmon and steelhead in particular to navigate the dam and get to their upstream spawning destinations.
The Bonneville Dam in Oregon is also well-known for the population of California sea lions that traverse the river and hunt the numerous fish that spawn at the base of the dam each spawning season. If you time your visit right, you and your guests can witness this fascinating display of nature for yourselves!
Entry into the Bonneville Dam
Visiting the Bonneville Dam is a budget-friendly activity, as admission is always free. The dam features two visitor centers are open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm every day of the year with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. You can find the Bonneville Dam located off the I-84 East on Exit 40, making it exceptionally easy to get to. Make sure to prepare for food in advance as there are no food vendors on the dam. Parking is always free and there is ADA access all throughout the dam.
Things to Do Nearby
The Bonneville Dam is a beautiful sight to behold, but if you are looking to fill up your itinerary for the day, check out these other cool attractions nearby.
Skamania Lodge Zip Line Tour will take you high up into the treetops where you can speed down multiple zip line courses. In total, you can cruise over seven zip line courses, walk across three suspension bridges, and walk around the elevated treetop platforms. Skamania makes sure a guide shows you around so you can get to know the Pacific Northwest area even better. Just make sure you are wearing closed-toed shoes to be able to ride on the zip lines!
Get out and explore some incredible hiking areas just nearby. Beacon Rock continues to be a popular choice and for good reason. While the Beacon Rock Trail is only a mile long in length, it will take you up higher than 800 feet to see this geological marvel that was created from an ancient volcano. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear, since the elevation may require a little more than just flip flops.
Last but not least is the Bonneville Hatchery, where you can see many of the incredible fish in the area in large tanks. Take your children on an educational journey through the methods with which fish populations are maintained in local lakes. Additional attractions found at the Bonneville Hatchery also include a viewing pond, feeding the fish, and a gift store.
Keep your family fed at the many restaurants found around the Bonneville Dam. Eastwind Drive-In features old school style burgers and shakes that are absolutely delicious. Thunder Island Brewing Company serves up handmade craft beer that the Pacific Northwest is known for along with delicious eats, and just because it is a brewery does not mean your kids cannot find something tasty on the menu!
Your Next Adventure Awaits with Hood River Vacation Rentals by Arrived
From spectacular attractions like the Bonneville Dam to where to go for Hood River’s most mouthwatering meals, our team of reservation agents can provide you with a multitude of helpful tips on how to get the most out of your time in Hood River. Learn more about what Hood River has in-store for you during your vacation when you contact our office today to discuss booking your accommodations with us!