I love dam tours. I know that I have mention this before but for those of you who are just tuning in – I am a fan! I’m not sure what it is about the dam that I love so much; maybe the holding back of a massive amount of water or the fact that it generates power by moving this massive amount of water? Who knows. But what I do know is that if there is a dam and a tour I like to be there.
So of course I planned on taking the tour at Bonneville Dam and Locks. And like always I was running behind so I missed the last tour of the day and was instantly disappointed. I wondered around the visitor center which I found to be informative and entertaining with viewing windows looking into the fish ladders. Although the occasional fish came through the viewing windows it was the Pacific Lamprey, eel looking creatures shown above, who stole the show. They may not be the most attractive thing to look at, but the children were fascinated by them. And maybe someone who was 30-something was also fascinated by them too. For some reason I have several photos of these things, which I am not totally sure why as they weren’t doing much other than suck-facing the windows.
After I had taken in the visitor center I decided it was time to move along and headed back to the highway… but then I saw a sign “Sturgeon Viewing and Interpretive Center”. I could not turn down sturgeon. These prehistoric fish are rarely seen, slightly odd looking and if they had a viewing center then I should definitely view them.
I parked the car and followed the fish pathway to the sturgeon viewing room. The room was crowded but had a pretty good turnover rate which allowed me to move closer to the viewing window. I watched about 3 or 4 different sturgeon swim around their tank. They literally look like a swimming dinosaur, which is fitting at they date back to the Jurassic era, about 100-200 million years ago.
There are two types of sturgeon found on the west coast, green sturgeon and white sturgeon. The green sturgeon can reach about 7 feet long (2.13 m), weigh up to 350 pounds (159 kg) and have an average lifespan of 60 to 70 years. The white sturgeon can reach 20 feet in length (6.09 m), 1500 pounds (680 kg) and can live up to 100 years old.
The sturgeon are not the only fish to see at the interpretive center as there are also several pools of rainbow trout. I won’t lie – the trout were sort of a let down after seeing the sturgeon. However you can feed the trout and they put on quite the show when you feed them.
The Bonneville Dam and Locks are located about 40 miles (64 km) east of Portland Oregon, along Interstate 84 (exit 40). The dam can be viewed from both Washington State and Oregon State. Per the recommendation from the Oregon State side, if you are interested in taking a dam tour the Washington side is set up better for tours. Tours on the Washington side are 10:30 am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm daily. Tours on the Oregon side are on the ½ hour from 10 to 4pm daily. Hours for the Sturgeon Viewing Pond is dusk till dawn.