The Bonneville Lock and Dam is a favorite destination in the Columbia River Gorge. This giant landmark is a hydroelectric dam built across Robins, Bradford, and Cascade Islands at Columbia River Mile 146. Located downstream of the Bridge of the Gods, the Bonneville Lock and Dam is a popular reservoir. Here, you can go hiking, fishing, picnicking, boating, and swimming. Managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the dam features rugged rock walls rising 2,000 feet above the lake. Be awed by the hydroelectric powerhouses and watch the fish as they migrate upstream. Then, escape into the wilderness by embarking on a hike down one of the many surrounding trails. Discover more about this recreational center in the Gorge!
Bonneville Dam History
Prior to the Bonneville Lock and Dam, the Cascade Locks and Canal were built. The locks and canal allowed ships to pass the Cascade Rapids several miles upstream of Bonneville. This 1896 construction was a huge step toward flood control, hydroelectricity, navigation, and irrigation. The Bonneville Dam was then built as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The dam’s construction provided jobs to 3,000 workers but also grueling work. The original navigation lock was the highest single-lift lock in the world at the time, a truly groundbreaking feat. A second dam was built later in the 1970s and 80s, creating Cascades Island between the new powerhouse and original spillway. Now, the combined electrical output of these two powerhouses is over 1,000 megawatts!
Bonneville Dam Recreation
With the beautiful Bonneville Reservoir and picturesque mountain peaks as your view, feel free to explore the hiking trails and grassy knolls beside the dam. Or, go for a scenic boat ride on the water! Whether you would like to cast your line for some fish, enjoy a romantic lunch with amazing views, or adventure along surrounding trails, the Bonneville Dam is an ideal recreational area in the Gorge.
Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery
Neighboring the Bonneville Lock and Dam is a fantastic fish hatchery. The Bonneville Hatchery was originally built in 1909. It has since expanded as part of the Columbia River Fisheries Development Program. This program is now the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s largest hatchery facility and features a diverse fish production program. You can visit this extraordinary hatchery any time of year to view the impressive display ponds. If you visit between October and November, you will also most likely get to view fall chinook and coho salmon spawning.
After Exploring the Bonneville Lock and Dam
Retreat to your private cabin after a long day exploring the Columbia River Gorge. Here at Carson Ridge, we offer beautiful luxury cabins ideal for a romantic retreat or best friend weekend. Featuring rustic queen and king-sized beds, comfortable seating, jetted spa tubs, private porches and more, our Washington cabins provide the ultimate escape from it all. And they are ideal for relaxing after a long day on the move. Enjoy a glass of wine on the porch or in your spa tub while soaking in all the memories you are creating during your Columbia River Gorge vacation!