Contact the Lock Operators
|The Dalles||541-506-8212||WUJ 34|
|John Day||541-298-9712||WUJ 35|
Bonneville Lock & Dam
Bonneville Lock & Dam, built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was the first federal lock and dam on the Columbia and Snake rivers. The project’s first powerhouse, spillway and original navigation lock were completed in 1938 to improve navigation on Columbia River and provide hydropower to the Pacific Northwest. A second powerhouse was completed in 1981, and a larger navigation lock in 1993.
Today, the project is a critical part of the water resource management system that provides flood risk management, power generation, water quality improvement, irrigation, fish and wildlife habitat and recreation along the Columbia River.
A Public Works Administration project of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, portions of Bonneville Lock and Dam Project were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
National Historic Landmark
Bonneville Lock and Dam is named for Army Captain Benjamin Bonneville, an early day visionary who led an exploration to the Oregon Country and charted extensive sections of what became the Oregon Trail.
Bonneville Lock & Dam is one of three hydroelectric power plants operated by the Portland District along the Columbia River. The dam generates enough electricity to power approximately 900,000 homes, or a city the size of Portland, Ore.
|1st powerhouse length||1027 ft||313 m|
|Generators/total output||ten||660 mw|
|2nd powerhouse length||986 ft||300.5 m|
|Generators/total output||eight||558 mw|
Our first mission, eliminating impediments to navigation on the Pacific Northwest's rivers, dates back to 1871.
A navigation lock was built during the original construction of Bonneville Dam. A larger lock was constructed in 1993, in a comparable size to the seven other locks on the 465 mile Columbia-Snake River Inland Waterway.
|Spillway length||1,450 ft||442 m|
|-reservoir above downstream side||60 ft||18.3 m|
|Navigation lock length||676 ft||206 m|
|-width||85 ft||25.9 m|
|Max. lift||90 ft||27.4 m|
|Avg. transit time||30 min.|
*National Geodetic Vertical Datum
(Mean Sea Level)
Visitor centers at Bonneville Lock & Dam
Two visitor centers, one on Bradford Island in Oregon and one on the Washington shore, are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Visitors centers are closed on Thanksgiving Day and December 24th through January 1st) A third visitor center is open seasonally for limited hours at the navigation lock. Located just 40 miles from downtown Portland in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, Bonneville Lock & Dam provides fun, educational opportunities for all visitors.
A team of rangers and volunteers staff are available to answer questions and share information about the significance of this icon of the Pacific Northwest.
A word of caution: Bonneville Dam is an active hydro-electric power plant. There may be times when portions of the visitor areas will be inaccessible by the public. These closures may come with little or no warning. We appreciate your patience during these temporary closures and will provide advance warning as early as possible.
Bradford Island Visitor Center
At the Bradford Island Visitor Center, visitors can see how nature, technology, and humans intersect. Visitors learn about the cultural history of the region, dam construction, the development of navigation along the Columbia River, and the life-cycles of salmon and Pacific lamprey.
Come enjoy seasonal views of migrating fish through underwater windows that allow you to peer into the fish ladder. A rooftop observation deck provides a panoramic view of the Columbia River Gorge.
Directions: Take exit 40, I-84, four miles west of Cascade Locks, Oregon. At the flag pole intersection, bear right. After stopping at the guard station, cross the navigation lock and past Powerhouse One. Follow the signs for about one mile to the visitor center. The large parking lot accommodates buses and recreational vehicles.
Washington Shore Visitor Complex
Inside the Visitor Orientation Building and the adjacent Fish Viewing Building are exhibits that focus on the fundamentals of electricity and the importance of hydroelectric dams to the region. Visitors can also learn about the natural and cultural history of the surrounding areas and the importance of salmon. This visitor complex offers an easily accessible view of the powerhouse. Generators can be viewed from an area 85 feet above the powerhouse floor.
Self-Guided Tours: A self-guided tour booklet is available at the front desk of the Visitor Orientation Building. This self-guided experience guides visitors through the Washington Shore Visitor Complex while explaining its role in power generation for the Pacific Northwest, fish passage and geology. Formal ranger lead tours are not being offered at this time.
Directions: Take Washington State Highway 14 to milepost 38.5. Turn south (toward the river) onto the Dam Access Road, about a half mile east of the town of North Bonneville. Turn left at the first stop sign, following the signs to the visitor complex.
The visitor center at the Navigation Lock is open seasonally, from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. This visitor center offers exhibits and videos demonstrating the value of river commerce to the economy of Oregon and Washington. Visitors can see the navigation lock in operation when commercial or recreational boats are using the lock. There is no set schedule of when boats pass through the lock.
Directions: Take I-84 to exit 40, approximately four miles west of Cascade Locks, Oregon. At the flag pole intersection, bear right. Enter the Navigation Lock Visitor Area parking lot just past the guard station as the road veers to the left.
Outdoor recreation around Bonneville Lock & Dam
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation. Around Bonneville Lock & Dam and along the shores of the Columbia River, Portland District's recreation sites allow visitors of all ages to enjoy picnicking, site seeing, wildlife viewing, fishing, windsurfing and more.
Locatd just 40 miles from downtown Portland, Bonneville Lock & Dam provides opportunities to connect with nature and create unforgettable memories.
Robins Island Recreation Area (OR): This area's large picnic shelter accommodates up to 100 people, and has horseshoe pits, a playground and open grassy areas for outdoor recreation such as ball and disc games. Visitors also enjoy this area's bird-watching and scenic views of the Columbia Gorge. Directions: Once on the Oregon side of the Bonneville property, travel to the flag pole intersection and bear right. Cross the navigation lock and then turn left at the sign for Robins Island. Open daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., (Closed December 24th through January 1st)
Bradford Island Recreation Area (OR): Located just below the fish ladders, this site affords spectacular spillway views of the surrounding Columbia River Gorge. Wildlife viewing includes views of osprey in the summer and bald eagles in the winter. Fishing for sturgeon, salmon, steelhead and shad are popular activities on the shoreline of this island recreation area however it should be noted that much of the bank is steep. Directions: Once on Bonneville property, go to the flag pole intersection and bear right. After stopping at the guard station, cross the navigation lock and the first powerhouse, then turn left at the sign for Bradford Island Recreation Area. Open daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., (Closed December 24th through January 1st)
Hamilton Island (WA): Hamilton Island offers boat ramp water access, more than a mile of shoreline for fishing, and five miles of trail that offer scenic views of the gorge and wildlife viewing opportunities. The access road ends at a gravel parking lot with vault restrooms and the trailhead for the Hamilton Island trail. Hours are seasonal: March - October, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. / November - February, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Hamilton Island Boat Ramp is open for launching and loading boats 24 hours a day.
Fort Cascades National Historic Site (WA): Fort Cascades, built in 1855, is one of several forts built to protect the portage around the Cascade Rapids. The site has a 1.5 mile interpretive trail where visitors may learn about the history of the site which was used by Native American Tribes, the Army in the 1850s, travelers on the Oregon Trail and the early fishing industry. Visitors also enjoy the trail for exercise, wildlife watching, and scenic views. There is little elevation change and most of the trail is shady, lush and green. Help preserve this unique area and also protect yourself, children, and pets from poison oak by staying on the established trail and keeping your pet on a leash. Spectacular views of the Columbia River and Bonneville Dam can be seen from here. Directions: Once on Bonneville property, turn right at the first stop sign, then an immediate left into the Fort Cascades Historical Site parking lot. Hours are seasonal: March - October, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. / November - February, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
North Shore Recreation Area (WA): This site provides spectacular views of the river, surrounding gorge and wildlife viewing. The open shoreline between the Fort Cascades Historic Site and the Washington Shore Visitor Complex is available for fishing with access to vault restrooms. Intermittent sections of gravel trail stretch along the shoreline for approximately one mile. Hours are seasonal: March - October, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. / November - February, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tanner Creek Fishing Area (OR): In addition to fishing, this site provides great wildlife viewing of salmon spawning in the fall and several species of birds throughout the year. Two trails lead down from the parking lot for access to the fishing area. There are flush toilets available near the parking area. Hours are seasonal: March-September, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. / October, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. / November-February, 7.m. to 5 p.m.
GEOCACHES AT BONNEVILLE LOCK & DAM
Park rangers at Bonneville Lock and Dam maintain five geocaches. Beginner and advanced geocachers will enjoy the hunt.
- "Green Power" is centered around the benefits of hydropower
- "More Power to You" is a multicache about the Northwestern hydropower system
- "Go with the Flow" is a multicache about the Juvenile Fish Bypass System
- "BIH" highlights the fascinating history of Bradford Island
- "Bonneville Landmark" is focused on the historical significance of Bonneville Dam
Rangers and volunteers are available to help!
There are also some privately-managed caches that have been allowed on site that we do not directly manage, but those should follow our Portland District Guidelines. Please contact the Bonneville Ranger staff before placing a cache on lands managed by Bonneville Lock and Dam to ensure that appropriate guidelines are met. We would like to avoid having caches placed in areas that are sensitive or pose a safety or security risk. Unauthorized caches or those not meeting the guidelines may be removed. Our goal is to provide a safe and enjoyable visitor experience for all that use the site, while helping to protect our entrusted resources. For more information about hiding or finding geocaches, you can visit www.geocaching.com.
PARTNER-OPERATED, CO-LOCATED SITES
Bonneville Fish Hatchery (OR): This chinook and coho salmon hatchery is operated by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Display ponds also offer a relaxing place to feed large rainbow trout and view adult white sturgeon measuring more than six feet long. A gift shop is open during summer months. Interpretive displays are inside buildings and outdoors, including a viewing area to watch fall spawning activities. Hours are seasonal: March-October, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. / October, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. / November-February, 7.m. to 5 p.m. Directions: At the flag pole intersection on Bonneville Dam property, bear left. Follow the road around to the large parking lot on the left. RV parking is available here.
Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway (OR): Operated jointly by the U.S. Forest Service and the State of Oregon, the nation’s first scenic highway was constructed between 1913 and 1922. This trail has reserved areas for pedestrian and bicycle use only, such as the section between Tanner Creek, Eagle Creek and Cascade Locks. Please note that if you are biking the trial, there is no bike/pedestrian access to the Bradford Island Visitor Center at Bonneville Dam (on the Oregon side of the river) due to restrictions across the powerhouse.