If you’re looking for a great way to get out of the house and enjoy some of the unique beauty that only the Pacific Northwest has to offer, consider a quick half-day trip to Bonneville Fish Hatchery.

This is a perfect outing for many reasons. The little ones have a lot of fun running about and learning about wildlife. The Columbia River hatchery raises 8 million Fall Chinook, 1.2 million Coho, 200,000 Summer Steelhead, and 60,000 Winter Steelhead. On site, there’s plenty to do to learn about the region’s fish and the efforts we go to preserve the species. Take a self-guided tour through the spawning room, numerous fish ponds, and both an outdoor and an underwater Sturgeon viewing areas. There’s also a nice gift shop, lots of well-maintained grounds and picnic tables.

Any visit to Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery must include a sighting of  one of the area’s most amazing creatures, Herman the Sturgeon. Herman is an 11-foot long, 500 pound, 70-year-old white sturgeon. Go beneath the pond and peer in at Herman through the looking glass, where he’ll be cruising the depths of the water with some of his smaller buddies. Next, check out the beautiful display ponds where the kids can get a handful of pellets for 25 cents and feed the rainbow trout, which are plentiful in the fall. And then head over to the fish ladders, where you can view Coho and Chinook Salmon making their way back to their place of birth to spawn after an amazing journey home from the Pacific Ocean. The kids will marvel at the jumping salmon in the holding tank.

The best part might be the ride. Driving along the Columbia River Gorge, no matter what the weather, is a peaceful experience. It’s a great way to kick-start the weekend after a busy week at the office, reflect on the beauty of where we live, and enjoy a little time catching up with the family. And it’s not so far that that the kids get too antsy; they might even enjoy a nice nap.

With Salmon such an integral part of Pacific NW culture,  a trip to the fish hatchery is almost a rite of passage for area young ones.  Try this classic Portland outing, rain or shine.