Rocky Reach Dam Turbine by Steve Cyr
“Rocky Reach Dam Turbine” by Steve Cyr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Rocky Reach Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Columbia River. It features a fascinating, first-of-its-kind, juvenile fish bypass system, Visitor Center, and the Museum of the Columbia.

Rocky Reach Dam is 125′ long with 12 spillway gates, 11 turbine-driven generators, and a capacity of 1,300 megawatts. The dam has been an imposing presence on the Columbia River since construction on it began in 1956.

A lot has changed since those early days, however. We now more fully understand the positive and negative effects a dam can have on the environment. Rocky Reach is nationally recognized for its efforts to reduce the negative impacts a dam of its size can have.

1995 saw a major powerhouse upgrade to the plant that not only improved efficiency and reliability but were also fish friendly. In 2003, a first-of-its-kind, juvenile fish bypass system was added to help young salmon and steelhead survive passage through the dam.

Rocky Reach Visitor Center

Chinook Salmon in the fish ladder at Rocky Reach Dam

The Rocky Reach Visitor Center is located on the west side of the dam. Balconies provide panoramic views of the area, including the dam and grounds, Lake Entiat, and the Columbia River.

The Visitor Center’s biggest draw has to be the fish viewing room. Here, five windows allow you to watch fish on their way through the fish ladder during their seasonal upstream migrations. May and August are the best months to see chinook salmon. July is sockeye salmon and the steelhead begin to appear in September.

The center also includes a 90-seat theater the shows movies throughout the day and upon request.

Museum of the Columbia

The Museum of the Columbia is located on the fourth floor of the powerhouse, accessed via elevator.

Here you can step back in time via exhibits displaying the rich history of life along the Columbia River. See the West as it really was, step behind the wheel of an 1800’s Columbia River riverboat, view a reconstructed historical tramway, and much more. Observation points in the museum provide stunning, full length views of the powerhouse, spillway, fish ladder, and the juvenile fish bypass.

Other attractions at the dam include the Rocky Reach Park Arboretum with flowering magnolias and 42 types of trees. A brochure with information about the trees supplies a map for a self-guided walking tour of the arboretum.

Hungry? No problem. The dam is also home to Mama D’s Café, where you can enjoy a lunch overlooking the Columbia River and Rocky Reach Park. The café is open 9am to 2pm, Monday through Saturday, and closed Sundays.

Rocky Reach Dam

5000 State Hwy 97A, Wenatchee, WA 98801

All facilities are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Visitor’s Center hours are 9am to 6pm. Museum of the Columbia hours are 9am to 5:30pm. Rocky Reach Park is open from 9am to 9pm.

Learn more by visiting the dam website:

Lake Chelan Lodging

Rocky Reach Dam is just a short drive from Kelly’s Resort on Lake Chelan. Our comfie cottages and lakeside condos are situated on 200′ of Lake Chelan waterfront. Come enjoy enclosed lake swimming with docks and a diving board, a heated pool, laundry facilities, and so very much more. Book your stay at Kelly’s Resort today!