Recreation at Chief Joseph Dam is centered around the Columbia River. Behind the dam is fifty-one-mile long Rufus Woods Lake. Fishing, boating, camping, and hiking are the most popular recreation activities. A chart provides an overall view of recreational facilities. A map shows where the facilities are located.


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There are two boat ramps with docks on Rufus Woods Lake near Chief Joseph Dam: the Bridgeport State Park Ramp on the north shore and the Willow Flats upstream boat ramp on the south shore. On the upper portion of the lake, two more boat ramps are located on the north shore; the Seaton's Grove boat ramp near Elmer City and a gravel ramp located at River Mile 581, off of the Columbia River road. Two miles downstream from the dam on Lake Pateros, boaters can use a ramp at Marina Park.
Bridgeport State Park, Marina Park,  Rocky Flats, and the Colville Tribe Net Pens are the campgrounds in the Chief Joseph Dam and Rufus Woods Lake area.
Rufus Woods Lake anglers fish primarily for walleye, rainbow trout, and triplods. Anglers can visit the Seattle District Reservoir Control Center webpages to track both river flow and lake levels.
Lake Woods Golf Course is next to Bridgeport State Park on the north shore.
The North Shore Trail extends three miles from the Orientation Area, through the Tower Trailhead, through the Dunes Trailhead, and into Bridgeport State Park. A spur trail connects to the Spillway Viewpoint at the North end of Chief Joseph Dam. The South Shore Trail is a gravel trail that goes around the Debris Basin, connecting to the Willow Flat Recreation Area.

Due to safety and security concerns, hunting is not allowed on any US Army Corps of Engineers lands immediately adjacent to the dam. Hunting is also not permitted at the Brandt's Landing Recreation Area, which is open for watchable wildlife viewing, picnicking, and fishing only.    

For specific information regarding land ownership and hunting on or along Rufus Woods Lake, hunters should contact the Bureau of Land Management, Washington Department of Natural Resources, or the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Hunters are reminded that it is their responsibility to know the ownership of the land they wish to hunt. There is no owner responsibility to post lands in the State of Washington.   

If there are any questions regarding hunting on federal property managed by the US Army Corps on Engineers, please contact Wildlife Biologist Bob Fischer at (509) 686-3540.


Chief Joseph Dam and Rufus Woods Lake are managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and subject to Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Washington State has Boating, Fishing & Hunting regulations which also apply.

Bridgeport State Park has a swim beach. Marina Park in Bridgeport has a swimming area in a small bay.

   The dam is located by the town of Bridgeport in north central Washington State. Rufus Woods Lake extends from Bridgeport to Grand Coulee. Weather is influenced predominately from the west, where the Cascade mountains wring most of the moisture from the weather systems before reaching the area, delivering a low average of 10.5 inches of annual precipitation. Below are 3 links that will allow you to get both current weather information and forecasts for the Bridgeport area  


Chief Joseph Dam is located in north central Washington state, just upstream from the town of Bridgeport. You will find it where Washington Highway 17 crosses the Columbia River. Visitors are invited to begin their visit to the dam at the Orientation Area. There you will find interpretive displays and brochures which will guide you on your exciting journey.

   For a tour of the dam itself, cross the Columbia River, take the first left, and follow the signs to the Powerhouse.

   Below are 3 sets of directions, some recommendations, and two maps to help you.

  • From Wenatchee: Drive east on US Highway 2 for 13 miles, and then north on US Highway 97 for 57 miles. Turn right (east) on Washington Highway 17 for 8 miles until you see Chief Joseph Dam. Turn left shortly before the Columbia River Bridge and begin your visit at the Orientation Area recreation site.
  • From Spokane: Drive west on US Highway 2 for 97 miles until you arrive at Washington Highway 17 past Coulee City. (Note: Washington Highway 17 joins US Highway 2 for two miles before turning north.) Follow Washington Highway 17 north for 40 miles until you reach Bridgeport. Continue driving across the Columbia River Bridge, where you should turn right and begin your visit at the Orientation Area recreation site.
  • From Penticton, BC: Travel south on Canadian Highway 97, for 35 miles to the US border. Continue south on US Highway 97 through Oroville and Omak for 76 miles. Turn left (east) onto Washington Highway 17 for 8 miles. Turn left just before the Columbia River Bridge to begin your visit at the Orientation Area recreation site.

   As you approach the dam, tune your AM radio to 1610. The radio broadcast will familiarize you with the history of the dam as well as recreation opportunities in the area.

    The Corps of Engineers Project Office is located are on the south shore of the Columbia River.