Bonneville Lock, Dam and Fish Ladder

Bonneville Lock and Dam is a National Historic Landmark that serves the Northwest. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built this public works project during the Great Depression of the 1930s to put people back to work, generate hydropower and improve navigation on the Columbia River. Today the dam is one of more than 60 large dams that produce most of the electricity in the Northwest. The Bonneville Navigation Lock is one of a series of eight locks that allow vessels to travel from the Pacific Ocean inland to Idaho. Salmon pass the dam as juveniles on their way to the sea and again as adults traveling upstream to spawn. About 500,000 people come from all 50 states and around the world every year to view the migrating salmon and the dam.

Bonneville Lock and Dam has three visitor centers. The Bradford Island Visitor Center on the Oregon side has four floors open to visitors and includes interpretive displays about hydropower, salmon migration, local history and geology. Visitors may view inside a powerhouse and get underwater views of salmon as they swim past windows in the fish ladder.  Also on the Oregon side, the Navigation Lock Visitor Center tells the story of inland commercial navigation and offers views of a working lock. On the Washington side of Bonneville Dam, a large visitor center gives people an opportunity to see inside a working powerhouse, learn about salmon and view migrating salmon.

  • Visitor centers on site
  • ADA accessible
  • Trained guides available
  • Interpretive signage

Get more information on this area from

National Geographic