CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. - Whenever my husband and I travel the Columbia River Gorge, we can't help but make a pit stop at the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery. It's a tradition now - something we've done for years.
We've been to a number of fish hatcheries but this one is by far our favorite. The grounds are impeccable, there are several ponds surrounded by gorgeous natural greenery and you can even get an up-close look at a giant sturgeon named Herman (how can you pass that up?).
And I always get a kick out of plopping quarters in the fish food machine, tossing out a handful of pellets into one of the ponds and watching hundreds of fish go crazy all at once. Note: This is addicting, so bring lots of quarters!
Admission is free at the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery, although there is a rather nice gift shop to tempt you to part with some cash. Last time we went, I avoided the gift shop because I knew I would find something fabulous that I just couldn't live without (we were on a budget that day). But there's always next time.
If you head to the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery, make sure you bring the camera. The sturgeon viewing window is a popular spot to snap photos or shoot video. That's where you'll find Herman (check him out in this YouTube clip).
There is actually a lot more to see and do than what I've talked about here. Check out the printable self-guided tour sheet (pdf).
The Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery is about 40 miles from Portland. To get there, hop on I-84 east and keep going until you see the sign for the Bonneville Dam turnoff (exit 40). You can even stop at Multnomah Falls on the way if you like!
Planning on trying out this day trip destination? Send us your photos and/or video when you get back!
(All photos by Shannon L. Cheesman)