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Bonneville Hatchery was first named “Central Hatchery” and was built in 1909. The hatchery receives thousands of visitors daily. The average number of visitors to the hatchery each year is one million people, from all over the world.
The hatchery raises 6.6 million fall chinook, 900,000 spring chinook, 750,000 coho, 250,000 summer steelhead and 60,000 winter steelhead. Adult salmon begin arriving at the hatchery in September and are then sorted through before spawning begins.
Spawning begins during the last week in October and continues until the beginning of December. As part of their natural life cycle all Pacific Northwest Salmon die after spawning.
There are also at least 40 different species of birds to view at Bonneville Fish Hatchery.
When visiting Bonneville Hatchery, please observe these safety rules:
- This is a work environment, please watch for equipment.
- Keep off all pond walkways.
- Please do not climb on rocks, ponds, or equipment.
- Please pick up any litter you may have dropped.
- If your group plans on eating lunch here, please bring garbage bags to pack your garbage out.
- Please park all vehicles in the appropriate parking area. There is a large parking area for buses.
- Never place hands or foreign objects in water or try to touch the fish. This is very harmful to them.
- Be aware that these fish are living creatures; please do not hang over ponds. This frightens them.
- Please do not tap or hit the glass in Herman’s Tank. Fish are very sensitive to noise and “hear” noise five times louder than humans.
Caution: Trout can bite! Please do not tease or touch them!
Two ponds have Rainbow Trout in them. We do not raise trout here at Bonneville Fish Hatchery; these Trout are brought here for your enjoyment.
There are machines by the ponds where you can buy fish food for a quarter to feed the trout.
The money from these machines is used to keep the hatchery grounds beautiful for visitors.
There is one outdoor pond that has young sturgeon in it.
White sturgeon will to eat live prey items and things that have died. Their mouth is like a vacuum tube and is especially good at eating food off the bottom of the pond.
White sturgeon are prehistoric, having evolved over 200 million years ago. They are a cartilaginous fish which means they have no bones – similar to a shark or a Pacific lamprey.
Sturgeon Viewing Center
Beyond the outdoor sturgeon pond there is a small white building that you can walk into. This is the Sturgeon Viewing Center, which was built in 1998.
Herman the Sturgeon is located in the Sturgeon Viewing Center and is approximately 10’ long, 425 pounds and over 60 years old.
- Neighboring Bonneville Dam offers a visitor center with a fish-viewing window where visitors can see adult salmon swimming through the fish ladder.
- The Columbia River Gorge offers many trails for hiking within a few miles of the hatchery These trails vary from easy to hard walks.
- Multnomah Falls is nine miles west of Bonneville Fish Hatchery and offers great hiking and viewing opportunities.
- The Stern-wheeler Columbia Gorge is docked four miles away in Cascade Locks, where visitors can take a cruise and enjoy the breathtaking sights and scenery.
- Ride the Historic Mt. Hood Railroad in Hood River, just 22 miles to the East of the Hatchery.
- On the Washington side of the Columbia River, just a little over ten minutes away, visitors ca play a round of golf, get a great meal, or get a massage at the Skamania Lodge.
- The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center is just across the Bridge of The Gods toll bridge in Washington less than ten minutes away.
- Carson Ho Springs Resort is just 20 minutes East on Highway 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River.
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