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“American fearmongering at its finest” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Grand Coulee Dam

Grand Coulee Dam
Coulee Dam, WA
5096339265
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Ranked #1 of 4 Attractions in Coulee Dam
Type: Dams, Outdoors
Activities: Group tours/walking tour
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Attraction details
Owner description: The dam has a fantastic nightly laser light show during the summer.
Central Saanich, Canada
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
28 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“American fearmongering at its finest”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

To start, I'm going to break my review into three parts: the tour, the visitors centre, and the laser light show.

To start, the hour-long tour was a waste of time in my opinion, even if it was free. First 15 minutes were told by an unenthusiastic tour guide, the next 20 minutes was watching a video how to go through a metal detector (and what absurd items you can't bring on the tour, like fruits) and the actual stringent security search. They actually opened up my wallet! The 25-minute tour consisted of driving through town (as if we can't do that on our own time), an elevator ride to a room overlooking a bank of generators guarded by a federal officer with a huge should-mounted, Call of Duty sized automatic rifle, and a drive across the top of the dam where the buses were bookended by two white unmarked SUV's with more federal officers inside.

What really irritated me is that they don't let you bring anything on the tour besides a camera (not even the camera's bag). They want you to leave everything in the car and do not provide storage for the stuff. In my experience, EVERYWHERE tells you not to leave valuables in your car as a break-in can instantly ruin your vacation. They know their market too. It's not like you can just not leave valuables at home (like passports and such).

The visitors centre on the other side of the river was a great, well set up operation and has great exhibits. Worth visiting on your trip through and can take 20-40 minutes to look at everything.

We made sure to come back for the laser show. It tells a really good unbiased story about the history of the dam, how it works, and why it is so important historically and for today. Would recommend this too.

In short, see the visitors centre and the laser show but avoid the tour. You don't see much and for the amount of security hassle you go through (and being treated like the enemy) it's just not worth it, especially if your vacation time is limited.

Visited September 2013
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150 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Coyle, Oklahoma
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“So it's a Dam and a Laser Show, but I could've been in Spokane”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2013

Yes, it's an impressive dam. Yes, the laser show at night on the water as it's released is kinda cool. But, it does not need to go on and on for 35 minutes repeating itself. I just keep thinking...we could be in Spokane in a decent hotel; is this worth it? (See review on Coulee House Motel).

Visited August 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bend, OR
Top Contributor
104 reviews 104 reviews
16 attraction reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“A Facility like no other!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2013

This is a three star visit. One star for the visitor center which is excellent and informative. One star for the shortened tour of the dam due to security restrictions.Not only does the dam produce electricity for of thousands of sources it supplies water in a complex pumping and storage lake system the provides millions of gallons of water to supply Washington Stage's vast agriculture industry. The final star is the spectacular laser light show that is shown each evening. The lasers are projected on the face of the dam and adjacent power house buildings. Water is released over the spillway and provides a translucent screen for the lasers. It is an evening well spent.

Visited August 2013
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Olympia, Washington
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
22 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Cool!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2013

The dam itself is impressive, but you must go into the visitor center. They do a great job giving you an idea of just how large the dam really is. I didn't stay long enough to do the laser light show, but it looked like it would have been a neat addition.

Visited August 2013
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Seattle, WA
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Fantastic Visitor's Center”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2013

Free and very informative visitor center. Best I have been to ever I think. The views of the dam and interactive exhibits were very well done. Didn't go on the 1-hour tour but would like to next time I am in the area.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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