Park opens dams’ powerhouses to tours

Olympic National Park, in close collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, will offer a limited number of public tours into the Elwha Dam powerhouse on four Saturdays in April and May.


“We’re thankful to our reclamation partners for working with us to allow a rare opportunity for members of the public to see the inside of a working hydropower plant on the Elwha River,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin. “The plant is still operating, so tours must be limited for safety and security reasons.”


These special tours allow members of the public an opportunity to view the interior of the historical Elwha powerhouse before it is decommissioned this summer. Contractors will begin removing both the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams this September, marking a major milestone in Elwha River restoration.


Eight tours, each limited to 10 participants, will be offered on the following Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: April 23, April 30, May 7 and May 21.


In accordance with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation security procedures, participants must be United States citizens. Valid identification such as a driver’s license or state identification card must be presented prior to entering the powerhouse.


Tour participants must be 12 years or older; children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.


Participants must be in good physical condition and capable of climbing more than 100 steep steps. Good walking shoes are a necessity; sandals or high heels will not be permitted on powerhouse tours. The tour route is extremely strenuous; as the steps into and within the powerhouse are unusually steep and narrow.


The Elwha power plant is an active, operating facility; inherent risks associated with an industrial environment include loud equipment, high voltage and high water pressure. Hard hats and earplugs will be provided to all participants for use during the tours.


Photography is authorized and encouraged; however, participants should note that other items, including backpacks, camera bags and water bottles are not allowed inside the powerhouse.


Reservations are required and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. A maximum of four spaces may be reserved per visitor group. People interested in making reservations should call the Olympic National Park’s public affairs office at 565-2985.


For more information on Elwha River restoration, visit the Olympic National Park website at



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