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Fish viewing room at the Visitor Center at Rocky Reach Dam in July 2011.

The Discovery Center at Rocky Reach Dam has amazed and amused our Wenatchee Valley neighbors, and visitors from around the globe, since the 1960s. Hard to believe, but very little has changed there since it opened — when gas cost 30 cents a gallon and phones hung on the wall.

You’re invited to buckle your seatbelt and blast off with us on a journey to a 21st century learning experience. Changes coming over the next 18 months will make sure this community treasure continues to provide lasting value for the next 50 years.

Here’s what’s coming:

  • Expanded and updated exhibits in the Discovery Center
  • Big new windows in fish viewing
  • Hands-on displays and exciting new ways to experience the Columbia River

A concept drawing of the new entrance to Rocky Reach Dam’s Discovery Center. Construction is expected to start this fall and be complete in spring 2021.

This summer is the time to come out to Rocky Reach before it closes on Oct. 31. We’re celebrating the rich history at the center and in the Museum of the Columbia before the transition into a new Discovery Center, which is set to open in spring 2021.

In the meantime, don’t wait!

Fish viewing will close Oct. 1 so work can start on installing big new windows (and other renovations). The windows are so big, you really can look a salmon in the eye as it swims past.

The Museum of the Columbia is permanently closing Oct. 31. Some of the favorite exhibits — including the tule house and ship’s wheel — will move to new space in the expanded and remodeled Discovery Center. Other items will go to the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center and many will be archived and stored.

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Display at Rocky Reach Dam’s Museum of the Columbia.

But, it’s not going to be goodbye without a celebration. Stay tuned for details.

During construction, there still will be powerhouse tours and many of the popular education programs including Summer Science and River Ramble. Some will be held in Rocky Reach Park, which will stay open, and in other Chelan PUD parks.

Join us in celebrating our past and embracing the Discovery Center’s future. Visit now, follow the progress of our journey to the future at Center and get ready to party in spring 2021 at our grand re-opening.

Rocky Reach Dam’s Discovery Center is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Museum of the Columbia is open 9 5:30 p.m. Rocky Reach Park is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For information about group tours, weddings in the pergola and reservation questions, call 663-7522.

Kimberlee Craig is a public information officer for the Chelan County PUD.

Nevonne McDaniels: 664-7151