The Grand Coulee Dam is an awe-inspiring feat of engineering that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Located in the beautiful state of Washington, it's the largest hydroelectric power-producing facility in the United States and is an amazing sight to behold.
In this ultimate guide to visiting the Grand Coulee Dam, we'll cover everything from the best times to visit, what to see and do, and tips for making the most of your experience.
The Grand Coulee Dam is a feat of engineering that dates back to the 1930s but was expanded between 1967 and 1974 with architectural design by Marcel Breuer.
When to Go
The Grand Coulee Dam is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike, and it can be visited year-round. Spring and early summer are the most popular times to visit Grand Coulee Dam as the surrounding Columbia River Basin is especially beautiful in the warmer months.
The dam's visitor center is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm, with extended hours in the summer. During this time, visitors can take guided tours of the dam and its facilities.
In addition, summer is also a great time to visit the Grand Coulee Dam if you're looking for outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, and boating. Fall is also an excellent time to visit the dam since temperatures are cooler, and the colors of the changing leaves make for a lovely experience.
Location and Getting There
The Grand Coulee Dam is located in the northern part of Washington State, about three hours away from Seattle. It is situated on the Columbia River between the cities of Grand Coulee and Electric City. The nearest airport is in Spokane, Washington, which is about an hour and a half away.
The Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center is located at the base of the dam, with the adjacent Grand Coulee Dam Park providing visitors with ample parking. You can access the park by taking highway 174 across the dam or by taking Highway 155.
For those visiting Grand Coulee Dam by car, take Highway 2 to Electric City, turn right onto SR-155, and drive over the dam. After crossing the dam you will come to a "T" intersection. Make a left onto Midway Avenue and drive for about one mile until you reach SR-174. Make another left and drive over the dam again. Once on the other side of the dam, you will see signs for the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center and Grand Coulee Dam Park.
What to Expect
Visiting Grand Coulee Dam is a great way to learn about the history and importance of hydroelectric power. The dam is the largest concrete structure in the United States, standing 550 feet tall and spanning 1.2 miles across the Columbia River. It's an impressive sight to behold!
The visitors’ center at the dam provides interactive exhibits, movies, and tours of the facility. It also has an observation deck that allows you to take in views of the dam and the surrounding area. There are plenty of other attractions nearby as well, including a fish ladder, a laser light show, and even a laser-etched wall that chronicles the area's history.
When visiting Grand Coulee Dam, you can expect to have a full day of exploring and learning about this incredible feat of engineering. From the visitors’ center to the laser light show, there are plenty of opportunities for fun and discovery.
Grand Coulee Dam Laser Light Show
Visiting Grand Coulee Dam during the summer months? Don't miss the spectacular laser light show that takes place every night from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The show features a variety of music, from classical to rock, and is accompanied by a stunning light show projected onto the face of the dam.
This dazzling display can be seen from the Visitor Center and is visible up to 15 miles away. It lasts for about 30 minutes. This free show is produced by the Bureau of Reclamation and funded by the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center Association.
Grand Coulee Dam Tours
You can visit the Grand Coulee Dam for a tour between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They offer public tours from Memorial Day until the end of October. It is highly recommended that visitors call the visitor center beforehand to make sure that tours are being given that day.
The tour itself lasts about an hour and takes visitors on a shuttle bus ride with great views of Lake Roosevelt and the Columbia River.
Camping Near Grand Coulee Dam
Grand Coulee Dam RV Park
Grand Coulee Dam RV Park is the closest RV site to the dam. There are around 30 sites that go for around $35 a night. It requires reservations and there are spots for tent camping.
Pull thru sites
Propane for sale
Kings Court RV Park
Kings Court RV Park in Grand Coulee, Washington is an RV park near the dam. There are 24 spots for RVs and even showers! The standard rate is $30 a day. You can also rent a spot for $200 a week.
Washers and dryers
One cabin for rent
Spring Canyon Campground
The Spring Canyon Campground in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area is a lovely river-side campground that's a perfect option for someone wanting to camp near the Grand Coulee Dam. There are beautiful views of the surrounding area and plenty of sun to enjoy. The standard rate is $23.00
Staff during the peak season
Flush toilets in summer