Grand Coulee Dam, Coulee Dam

3.9
#77 of 541 in Parks in Washington State
Grand Coulee Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water. Constructed between 1933 and 1942, Grand Coulee originally had only two powerhouses. The third powerhouse, completed in 1974 to increase energy production, makes Grand Coulee the largest power station in the United States by nameplate-capacity at 6,809 MW. However, in terms of yearly power production, Grand Coulee places fifth after a number of nuclear facilities to the south, like Palo Verde west of Phoenix. This is because river flow varies throughout the year. For example, while the dam may generate at nameplate-capacity in the spring, decreased river flow in the fall means less power can be generated the rest of the year, resulting in a lower capacity factor.The proposal to build the dam was the focus of a bitter debate during the 1920s between two groups. One group wanted to irrigate the ancient Grand Coulee with a gravity canal while the other pursued a high dam and pumping scheme. The dam supporters won in 1933, but for fiscal reasons the initial design was for a "low dam" 290ft tall which would generate electricity without supporting irrigation. That year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and a consortium of three companies called MWAK (Mason-Walsh-Atkinson Kier Company) began construction. After visiting the construction site in August 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt began endorsing the "high dam" design which, at high, would provide enough electricity to pump water into the Columbia basin for irrigation. The high dam was approved by Congress in 1935 and completed in 1942. The first waters over-topped Grand Coulee's spillway on of that year.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
330 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • If this is the first dam you visit and you have plenty of time then go for the tour. But be prepared to spend the majority of your time waiting, being security checked and driven from one side through...  more »
  • Having been to the Hoover Dam we were keen to visit the Grand Coulee Dam. Quite a drive out but worth it, there is plenty of parking with fantastic views out over the dam. The visitor center is well w...  more »
  • I took the tour of the Grand Coulee dam with my husband but wouldn't recommend it. Too much time is taken up with security searches and lectures, with struggling into and out of the vans without prope...  more »
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1 day in Coulee Dam BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, romantic, beaches, shopping, slow & easy, popular PREFERENCES: July, romantic, beaches, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Slow & easy 5 days in Coulee Dam BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Chelan BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 8 days in Chelan BY A USER FROM CANADA August, teens, popular PREFERENCES: August, teens ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Abbotsford & Coulee Dam BY A USER FROM CANADA July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 2 days in Coulee Dam BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 2 days in Washington State BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Coulee Dam BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: July, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Chelan BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 2 days in Coulee Dam BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 4 days in Coulee City BY A USER FROM CHILE June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Chelan BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, teens, popular PREFERENCES: July, teens ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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