At the cross roads of Highway 197 and Interstate 84 is the Dalles Dam, just east of the beginning of the Columbia River Gorge that divides Washington and Oregon.
The Columbia River being harnessed for hydroelectric power has been of great benefit to the Pacific Northwest. It has also come with some losses of scenic and cultural sites as well. When the Dalles Dam was completed, it backed up water and submerged Celilo Falls, an incredible series of waterfalls that was not only scenic but also culturally important to the natives who lived in the area.
The Dalles Dam is an engineering marvel too and viewing it from either side of the Columbia River can be very interesting. The Dalles Dam Visitor Center sits on the Oregon side of the structure and treats you to the history of the area, the concepts and accomplishments of hydroelectricity, and the details of the building and running of the dam itself. If you check the schedule, you can even time your visit so that you can take a guided tour of the dam’s fish passage facilities and power generation area. I took this tour of the dam and it is really an eye opener. I was raised taking day trips to the various dams in the region and thought I knew a lot about them. I picked up more than a few details I’d never known before.
You can also make use of the picnic facilities at the dam while you are there. A quick stop at the Dalles Dam can really add to the fun you have on a road trip along the border of Washington and Oregon.
Check out The Dalles Dam visitor center on your next trip through the area.