Visitors to three Columbia River dams, including Grand Coulee, can join in on a high-tech educational treasure hunt that could earn them a special patch simply by taking part in the “D3 Geocache Challenge.”
It began May 27 and will continue through Labor Day.
The visitor centers at Bureau of Reclamation’s Grand Coulee Dam; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Chief Joseph Dam; and the Chelan County Public Utility District’s Rocky Reach Dam will be the starting point to discover the hidden treasures of hydropower production and other essential facts about the role large dams play in the Pacific Northwest.
Geocaching uses GPS (global positioning system) devices or GPS-capable smartphones to find a “cache” or treasure box containing educational information and a prize. It’s great fun and can lead you on many adventures, including this one, which offers even more to see when you find the cache at Grand Coulee Dam, and amazing tour all by itself.
For those completing all three geocaches at Grand Coulee, a special prize awaits at the visitor center. Those wanting to win the D3 Geocache Challenge patch must visit all three dams and complete all the caches.
At Grand Coulee, participants may also get a piece of the electrical cables that until this spring spanned the Columbia River from the Third Powerplant.
Each visitor center will hide three or four caches on their grounds, for educational purposes.
“This is a great opportunity for visitors to have some fun exploring these areas while also winning a special patch showing that they met the challenge,” said Lynne Brougher, Grand Coulee Dam public affairs officer.
The fun starts when participants receive a “D3 Challenge Passport” along with GPS coordinates at each visitor center and follow the coordinates to locate at least three or four geocache sites at each dam. Each site will consist of a box containing an educational activity sheet. Remember to bring a pen or pencil to complete the activity sheet.
Participants will record answers to questions they learned while touring the dams and return the completed sheets to the visitor center to have their “passport” stamped and earn a prize. Questions can include facts about hydropower production, irrigation, flood control or recreation.
Tour guides will be on hand to explain the D3 Challenge and assist participants in getting started on their adventure, Brougher said.
For more information call the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center at (509) 633-9265.