3 Insightful Hospitality Tips . . . From a Dam

Hospitality tips from an unusual source – Washington’s Rocky Reach Dam

Rocky Reach Dam, Wenatchee WashingtonHave you visited a dam? I’ve been inside some of the most famous, including Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam. But in terms of winning your heart no dam comes close to Rocky Reach, a comparatively small dam on the Columbia River outside Wenatchee, Washington.

I make special trips just to see Rocky Reach. I take family and friends there. Rocky Reach inspires in a way the big dams don’t. Why? Because the people at Rocky Reach LOVE their dam.

Make no mistake. Rocky Reach is first an industrial site that controls floods and generates electricity.

Rocky Reach Dam Grounds, Wenatchee WashingtonBut drive past the forbidding guard shack and you’ll discover something remarkable. The dam magically opens to you. It sits on a naturally beautiful location among steep brown hills and green apple trees. On the grounds you discover manicured lawns, lush gardens, picnic shelters, a playground and an inviting visitor center/museum. There is even a place where people get married.

At a dam.

The good folks at Rocky Reach know hospitality. How else could they turn a working power plant into a community jewel? As leaders there are three things we can learn from them:

Hospitality tip #3 – Show that ‘We are competent: Everything works as it should. The place just looks, feels and runs right. It’s safe. None of the basics are missing or poorly executed. Everything has a place and everything is in its place.

Flower baskets at Rocky Reach Dam Grounds, Wenatchee WashingtonHospitality tip #2 – Show that ‘We love our space: All the little things line up in a way that communicates ‘we care’. The property is clean and cared for (even small items). There are extra touches that go beyond what is expected (seasonal flower baskets, signs that tells stories, artwork, ice cream availability, etc.). Workers are friendly, helpful and genuinely glad to be there.

Hospitality tip #1 – Show that ‘We thought of you: Spaces that only serve their owner’s needs are the norm. Superior spaces serve their intended function AND thoughtfully meet the needs of outsiders. At Rocky Reach, this means putting a TV in the lobby so visitors can see what’s in the fish ladder. It means setting up a fountain for no other reason than beauty. It means planting flowers in the shape of a huge American flag. It means opening the dam’s insides for people to learn from. Nobody had to do these things. But they did.

Facilities reveal character. Even purely functional spaces can be made to lift the human spirit. The next time you’re building something functional, stop and ask yourself, “How can I make this special?” Just like the hospitable team at Rocky Reach, you will surprise and delight.


Fish on TV

Rock Reach thoughtfully places a TV in the welcome area. It shows the fish currently coming through the dam’s fish ladder. Rocky Reach fish counts are taken at the dam’s fish ladder.

Wall Art - Horsepower

Relevant artwork greets visitors. This mural shows the horsepower behind moving water.

Museum of the Columbia

The dam structure houses the Museum of the Columbia. This is another thoughtful way for visitors to enjoy Rocky Reach.

Wedding pavillion at Rocky Reach Dam.

Wedding pavilion at Rocky Reach Dam. It says a lot about a power plant when people want to get married there.

Rocky Reach Dam Displays

Visitors find informative displays throughout the dam.

Rocky Reach Dam Generator

Electric generating turbines in the dam’s power house.

Rocky Reach Dam generator platform.

Support structure for generator (the generator was overseas for repairs).

Rocky Reach power house.

Rocky Reach power house.

Drive shaft for turbine.

Drive shaft for turbine.

The American flag in flowers.

The American flag in flowers.

Fish ladder.

Fish ladder.

Columbia River, below Rocky Reach Dam.

Columbia River, below Rocky Reach Dam.

Rocky Reach Dam Park and Grounds, Wenatchee Washington

Rocky Reach Dam Park and Grounds

Yin and Yang in flowers.

Yin and Yang in flowers.



Brief video tour of Rocky Reach Dam.

Dirty Jobs visits Rocky Reach.


Rocky Reach Dam repair – Turbine repairs.

If you visit Rocky Reach, I also suggest a short stop at the nearby Washington Apples Visitor Center. If you are hungry, try the restaurants at Pybus Market in Wenatchee.



Rocky Reach Dam, Wenatchee, WA Visitors Center Information

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