Every year, more than one million people from all over the world visit the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery for the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with underwater wildlife. This mecca of education is located near the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. Originally built in 1909, it has since expanded as part of the Columbia River Fisheries Development Program. The main purpose of the hatchery is to enhance declining fish runs in the Columbia River Basin, but it is also open to the public for fish viewing and education. Starting October through November, visitors even have the opportunity to see the spawning of the 80,000 salmon that return each fall. Learn from workers sorting eggs and caring for the young fish or watch the short videos that accompany each exhibit!
Sturgeon are a prominent breed of fish at the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery. These fish are particularly interesting because they are cartilaginous, meaning they have no bones! Sturgeons are from the Jurassic period and can grow over 10 feet long. You can see these fish in the outdoor White Sturgeon Pond or inside at the Sturgeon Viewing Center. This building is home to Herman the Sturgeon, a 450-pound fish that is over 70 years old! Watch these incredible fish through underwater viewing windows while they feed and maneuver in their natural environment.
There’s something calming about watching fish swim gracefully from place to place. Visitors can easily spend hours walking between the outdoor Trout ponds that offer relaxing views. Rainbow Trout are kept in two of the outdoor ponds. The Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery does not raise these Trout but tends to them for the enjoyment of the visitors. Make sure to bring some quarters; you can bring the trout to the surface by buying fish food from the nearby machines!
The Egg Incubation Building and its Spawning Room are must-sees at the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery. The building includes a Visitor Information Center, where you can pick up a brochure for a self-guided tour. Beginning in October, visitors can see the salmon eggs incubating after they are fertilized during spawning. More than 80,000 salmon return each year in late summer and early fall for spawning. The eggs are harvested, and then each stage of the operation is on display! If you visit during a time when spawning is not occurring, a series of educational videos and exhibits available that outline each step are available.
After having an amazing learning experience exploring the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery, return to Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins for ultimate relaxation. Consider our Fishing Creel cabin after your visit to the hatchery. Comfort is considered in every aspect of the room from the perfectly hung wicker fish basket to a pair of fishing pole-inspired lamps on either side of the king-size bed. Enjoy an oasis of serenity with breathtaking views and luxurious surroundings, complete with a delicious breakfast each morning. You’ll love your getaway to the Columbia River Gorge!