Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Grand Coulee Dam

Our drive from Spokane to Coulee City was filled with sights of wheat fields and more wheat fields.  The wide expanse of greens mixed with the brown tones of harvested wheat was unusual and fascinating to us.

Coulee City Community RV Campground met our needs.  We had full hook ups, a view of Banks Lake and super nice camp hosts.  They brought us fresh-frozen walleye fish they had caught in Banks Lake and told us about the sights to see in the area. (Thanks Alice&Jerry, the walleye fillets were delicious!)

Banks Lake is a crucial part of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project.  More than a half million acres of land are irrigated from this lake with over 3000 miles of irrigation canals.
Our first California Quail.  We have enjoyed watching a covey of them here in the RV park.

Driving north along Banks Lake, toward the Grand Coulee Dam, are some of the most amazing lake views you will ever see.  We spotted deer, many different varieties of birds including ospreys and hawks.  The surrounding basalt cliffs are more than 800 to 900 feet tall. This geological area is called  the Grand Coulee.

There are so many facts that can be written about the colossal engineering feat of the Grand Coulee Dam.  To learn more about one of the largest concrete structures on earth and how it was built, click on the link here.

There are several viewing platforms to try to comprehend the enormous size of this concrete structure.
 It is impressive!

Panoramic View

After our stop at the Visitor Center we took the free dam tour provided by the Bureau of Reclamation.
You are screened through security and then a metal detector before being allowed to participate, then we boarded vans that drove us through the community of Coulee Dam.  There, we saw where many of the workers and engineers lived while the dam was being constructed.
Next, we were taken to one of the three power generating buildings where
we saw these turbines that also help pump water up into the 12 giant large pipes that fill Banks Lake. 

Then, the tour van drives you to the top of the dam for a different perspective.

The view from the top of the dam, looking down on the spillway.  Ron took this photo, not me.

The dam tour is free and certainly provides a deeper appreciation for the feat accomplished by this dam's construction.

Traveling south, on Highway 2 from Coulee City, you come upon another amazing geological landscape.  This area is also part of the Grand Coulee,  a land form thought to have been created by Ice Age floods more than 13,000 years ago. Driving up you are greeted with an impressive view of 
It's 3.5 miles wide and 400 feet high.

It is stated that when the water rushed over these cliffs it created a waterfall greater than Niagara Falls. It is estimated that Dry Falls is at least five times the width of Niagara Falls.
Panoramic View of Dry Falls

Traveling further southward on Highway 2, you come upon a string of clear lakes surrounded by more basalt cliffs.  This area is also part of the grand coulee, created by that glacial ice dam bursting with the massive amounts of rushing water carving and swirling away at the land. Over time the water stripped away the soil and it created this deep canyon, also known as a coulee.

This was a very interesting area to explore.  We learned a lot about the geology of the land, found some unbelievable views, met some nice folks and found this place to be a memorable stop in our journey across the northwest.
We've now moved on to Leavenworth to see what's there.

More Later.

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