Chief Joseph Dam is the second largest hydropower producing dam in the United States. It is the largest hydropower producing dam operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The single powerhouse is over a third of a mile long and holds 27 house-sized turbines. Alone, it produces enough power to supply the whole Seattle metropolitan area. Power produced here is marketed by the Bonneville Power Administration.
When Chief Joseph Dam was built on the Columbia River, it created a lake called Rufus Woods Lake. The Columbia River has eroded through the Waterville Plateau creating a deep canyon. The rugged landscape found along the lake came into existence after millennia of erosion. Glaciers and the Missoula floods assisted the erorsion process and exposed basalt and granite cliffs. Giant boulder fields on the ridges above the lake and along the shoreline are evidence of the glaciers that once dominated the landscape.
Today the arid shrub ecosystem is dominated by the sage brush community with pockets of ponderosa pine, juniper, and Douglas fir stands that are home to a diversity of wildlife, including black bears, cougars, eagles, and rattlesnakes.
Numerous recreational opportunities exist in and around the lake, including picnicking, hiking, boating, hunting, fishing, swimming, and camping. There are two campgrounds near Chief Joseph Dam--Marina Park in Bridgeport and Bridgeport State Park on the north shore of the lake.
Rufus Woods Lake is a favorite spot for anglers from all over the region. Walleye, rainbow trout, and triploid trout are the major game fish caught in the lake.