Challenge Accepted: Three Dam Tour (Along the Columbia River)

…and completed. A couple days ago I was writing about the FWEE Dam Challenge, which I accidently discovered during a regular caching trip. For this weekend I had planned a road trip to go to four other dams to complete this challenge. My plan was going on a trip to Grand Coulee Dam from there to Chief Joseph Dam next to Wells Dam and last to Rocky Reach Dam. Below you can see my route…

Grand Coulee Souvenir

Grand Coulee Souvenir

I set off early saturday morning and once I got to the first cache at Grand Coulee Dam I discovered the challenge which was just for this dam. If you complete it you get a small souvenir and if you do two more challenges at other dams (Chief Joseph and Rocky Reach Dam) you get a nice patch.

D³ Tour Passport

D³ Tour Passport

I set off to grab all three caches at this dam. To find the caches was not very hard, because they put it in plain sight. At every spot, you had to do some small detective work. Like find some answers to questions or find words in a puzzle. But there was always a clue to help you out. Don’t worry it’s not hard. After completing all three caches I went to the Visitor Center. There I got my passport and the first stamp for the D³ tour (Three dam tour). Also as a small present for completing the local challenge, everyone gets a small card which an actual wire used for the power lines inside the dam.

Grand Coulee Dam view from Visitor Center

Grand Coulee Dam view from Visitor Center

Grand Coulee Dam view from Viewpoint

Grand Coulee Dam view from Viewpoint

If you have time, make sure you take the free tour. The tour starts across the dam but just ask at the visitor center and they will help you out.

Views: Grand Coulee Dam von Peter Reinold

 

I set off to the next dam… Chief Joseph Dam. On the way, I grabbed some more caches, which are close to the geocaches I have to find anyway.

 

Chief Joseph Dam

Chief Joseph Dam

Chief Joseph Dam

Chief Joseph Dam

At Chief Joseph Dam you have to find at least three out of the five official caches to claim your find. After that, you have to head to the Park Rangers Office and get your stamp or also stamp it yourself with the stamp in the Bonus cache. But here I had some problems. According to the listing the Rangers are here until 3:30 PM. Time was running out and I headed to the north side of the dam to grab the three caches, which are very close to each other. Now I had to search where the actual “Natural Resources Offices” is. That’s where I have to go according to the listing. There are some coordinates in each cache description which tell you the exact location of the office as well of the bonus cache. I made it to the office just in time before they would leave, but the gate was locked and nobody was there. I met a security guy and he told me the Rangers only work during the week and nobody is here during the weekend. For the Bonus-Cache: This one is currently not accessible if the gate is locked, because it’s inside. After contacting h the social media team of Chief Joseph Dam I got told, that the fence line is only a couple of weeks old and the Bonus-Cache will be moved and I can get my stamp at Rocky Reach Dam. If you complete the Tour at Chief Joseph contact them on Facebook and they will mail you a keychain.

Since I had time now, I finished the other two official dam caches on this site and some additional once and headed towards Rocky Reach Dam.

Former Army Corps of Engineers Tank

Former Army Corps of Engineers Tank

 

On the way there I made a quick stop at the Wells Dam to sign the logbook there to be able to have enough dam visits for the FWEE Dam Challenge.

Wells Dam view from visitor point

Wells Dam view from the visitor point

 

As I arrived at Rocky Reach Dam I had to find out that they are already closed for today. I was able to find 3 caches but only 2 of them had treasure cards inside, which you need to claim your find in the visitor center. One cache is only accessible during the operation hours of the visitor center itself. They are open from 9 am to 4 pm.

 

Next day I came back here and completed the local challenge which also helped me to finish the D³ tour. I explained the guy at the visitor center, that one cache for the local tour was missing the treasure cards and that I visited Chief Joseph Dam but was not able to get a stamp. He didn’t know anything that I can get the stamp of Chief Joseph Dam here as I was told by the social media team of Chief Joseph Dam. For the completion of the Rocky Reach Challenge, you get a (Geo)Coin. It’s not trackable, because it has no number on it, but it is a nice collectible and since I completed the big dam tour I got finally they Patch I was seeking desperately.

D³-Coin-Patch

D³-Patch and Rocky Reach Dam Coin

 

Anyway, this dam has a lot to offer and to see. But it is somewhat high-security. First, you have to enter and pass a guard house, where you get quickly checked by security. If you want to enter the Visitor Center (which you have to, to finish the challenge) you have to go through a metal detector, but you don’t have to take off your shoes or even the belt as you are supposed to at airports. It’s not too bad at all but just to let you know up front.

Inside the visitor center go downstairs to see the fish ladder and watch the fishes inside. There is also a Cafe onsite, but it was closed during my visit.  Head over to the museum which is actually housed downstairs inside the main dam building. From there you have a great view in the powerhouse and you can see the generators from above. You won’t see a lot but you get a general overview of the building. A little further down the walkway you can look outside and see the spillway.

Fish ladder at the dam

Fish ladder at the dam

Rocky Reach Dam viem from visitor center terrace

Rocky Reach Dam viem from visitor center terrace

Fish Ladder Room

Fish Ladder Room

Museum

Museum

Power House

Power House

Spillway View

Spillway View

It is pretty exciting here. Outside the visitor center are BBQ-places and places to hang out and relax. According to the cache listings for the Rocky Reach Dam Challenge, you can even rent GPS-units here with the coordinates pre-programmed. For renting you have to be at least 18 and have to leave your ID during the rent.

View of Dam and outdoor spaces

View of Dam and outdoor spaces

View of Dam and outdoor spaces

View of Dam and outdoor spaces

If you are in the area you should take the time and do this challenge. You learn a lot about the different dams and the environment around them. My tip for you is to set off very early and to have all caches for the first dam collected once the visitor center opens (9 am). It doesn’t matter if you do it in the same order as I did or reverse. If you want to do it in one day, I would recommend you to start off with Rocky Reach Dam and from there head to Grand Coulee Dam over Chief Joseph Dam. Why? Because the visitor center at Grand Coulee Dam is open until 5 pm and at Rocky Reach Dam only until 4 pm. Otherwise, you have to do it in two days like I had to do it, unfortunately.

And I forgot to mention that the drive is quite scenic as well. This was indeed a nice geocaching challenge and a road trip in one. Important advice: Never forget to bring your camera along the way.

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