Discovery Center’s new app lets guests ‘swim’ with the salmon

Discovery Center Tour Guide Guadalupe Peterson shows two school-aged children an interactive model of Rocky Reach Hydro Project. Courtesy Chelan County PUD

Using the new PowAR app, guests can use augmented reality to “fly” a drone over Rocky Reach Dam.

WENATCHEE - Even if you’ve visited the all-new Discovery Center at Rocky Reach Dam since it reopened after a two-year renovation, now’s the time to come again for another new way to experience the Columbia River. 

This week, the center debuts its “PowAR” app. The app offers three ways to look deeper into the inner workings of Rocky Reach Dam by using augmented reality. The app works on a smart phone or tablet to enhance what guests see by adding virtual elements. 
“Our new app adds an exciting dimension to what guests can see and do at the Discovery Center,” said Kristin Lodge, Visitor Services manager. “We know it’s not enough to just tell people about the benefits of hydropower – we want them to see and feel it for themselves!”
With the app – which can be downloaded using the Discovery Center’s free Wi-Fi – guests can “swim” with salmon up the fish ladder; “watch” a water molecule on its trip through a dam turbine; and “fly” a drone over Rocky Reach Dam. 
No device? No problem – the tour guides at the Discovery Center have tablets to loan to guests to use during their visit. 
If you’re looking for a more low-tech adventure, the all-new Discovery Center also uses movies, unique exhibits and hands-on displays to tell the story of the amazing Columbia River. 
And, for the first time, the center is open year-round! 
That means it’s a great place to entertain visitors or keep students busy during the holidays this year. 
And, admission is free! 
“We do get questions about ‘what’s there to do at the Discovery Center?’ ” said Lodge. “After just a few minutes of chatting about all we offer, people can’t wait to visit.” 
Guests can steer a steamship, crank a turbine, and travel back in time to walk through a Tule lodge. 
“I just tell them you have to see it to believe it,” Lodge said.
Completely reimagined, the all-new center reopened in summer 2021 offering four floors of stories, games, history and art - plus big views of the river and the unique landscape of the Columbia River valley. 
“One of the best things about the Discovery Center is that guests can make the journey their own,” said Bob Bauer, center education specialist. “If you’re interested in wildlife, you can hear directly from biologists about the fish and animals that make this area special. 
“History buffs will see and hear the words of public power visionaries. Children can make their own energy and everyone can test their skill as a steamboat pilot. 
“There’s else nothing like it in this entire region.” 
Discovery Center staff are helpful guides, able to answer questions and offer tips on the must-see exhibits.
The memories, accomplishments and visions for the future play out in exhibits that include “The Living River,” “Hydro Health,” “The People’s Power,” and “Careers.”
Throughout are examples of the benefits the Columbia River brings to the people, plants and creatures that live along its shores and in its nurturing water. 
The Discovery Center also is the place for folks looking for a cozy spot to watch the snow fall or spot bighorn sheep moving across the hills. Warm drinks, breakfast, lunch and treats are available for purchase at the Rocky Reach Café inside the center. 
Both are open Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed New Year’s Day.) 
Exhibits inside – and outside under cover – offer a whole new way to experience the Columbia River.
Guests can enjoy the all-new Discovery Center on their own, or call ahead to arrange a tour for a group, (509) 663-7522, or email 

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