School Days will be at Rocky Reach Dam Discovery Center
on Sept 21st & 22nd, 2023

Salmon Fest School Days are just for students!

Since it’s inception in 1991, thousands of 3rd and 4th grade students from across Washington State have migrated to the river in the fall to enjoy the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival. Teachers and students spend time through the school year learning about Natural Resources subjects that will prepare them for the activities at Salmon Fest.

An exciting menu of hands-on activities and “edutainment” gives students from throughout North Central Washington a unique opportunity to discover and appreciate the complexities of the natural world and the significance of salmon to people of the northwest.

Due to continued construction at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, Salmon Festival will take place at Rocky Reach Dam Discovery Center. We’d like to shout out a huge thank you to our friends at the Chelan County PUD for making it possible to host up to 1,500 elementary students for two days of natural resources education.

By the Numbers….

The event draws thousands of students, teachers, educators, and parents, from over 30 schools experience the annual festival. It takes hundreds of Natural Resources staff and volunteers to run the 40+ educational activities and exhibits.

Our goal…  To inspire the next generation of stewards.

Drop-In Activities

Below are drop-in activities that require no sign-up. We encourage you to visit these activities throughout the day as your schedule allows. Many of the activities will be located in the exhibit area.
(This list is subject to change)

Salmon Festival Activities

River Ramble Activities

In this 40 by 40 foot barrier-free maze, students will experience the many challenges of aquatic life and migration when they discover themselves as salmon, hatching and struggling to survive. They meet predators along the way as they go through the salmon’s amazing life cycle.


Many agencies and organizations in our community share information through hands-on, interactive activities. Cascadia Conservation District, Yakama Nation Fisheries, Bureau of Land Management, Washington State Parks, Wolf Haven, and many others will be joining us for this salmon celebration.


Get up close and personal with live salmon as they climb up the fish ladder past Rocky Reach Dam.

Join staff from Grand Coulee Dam to discover the wonders of hydropower, electric circuits, and solar-powered ovens – and take a Virtual Reality tour of the dam!

Discover what a butterfly looks like through a microscope and go on a garden scavenger hunt!


Visit us for four floors of stories, games, history, and art – plus big views of the Columbia River. Steer a steamship, take a virtual flight, crank a turbine – it’s fun for all ages. 

Learn the ins and outs of responsible fishing in our home waters.

Learn what poaching is and how it affects our fish and wildlife resources. 

Sign-Up Activities


Teachers should choose 3 preferred Salmon Festival activities (green) AND 3 preferred River Ramble activities (blue) from the lists below when completing the Teacher Registration Form (also found below). We will do our best to accommodate your choices (register early for best selection!). Take into account any special needs your students may have when choosing your activities. 

Salmon Festival Activities

River Ramble Activities

You will be able to choose 3 Salmon Festival activities from the list when registering.

You will be able to choose 3 River Ramble Activities from the list when registering.

Join a biologist in a real fish dissection and see what’s inside that makes a salmon a salmon!

Walk across the fore bay deck on top of the 4 billion pound Rocky Reach concrete dam that leads them to the powerhouse.  Learn how juvenile and adult salmon pass the dam on their journeys to and from the ocean.  Once inside the powerhouse, look over the three football field long generation floor and learn how energy in the river is used to generate electricity while protecting salmon.

Students learn the external anatomy of a fish then apply paint and carefully press paper over it for a colorful print in the same manner that Japanese fishermen once recorded their daily catch, by making a fish rubbing (gyo=fish, taku=rubbing).


Become a salmon and migrate your way past predators, fishing boats, dams, and waterfalls to make it back to your home stream.


Students become caddisflies, stoneflies, and other aquatic insects in a game of tag. They quickly learn that some insects are more susceptible to environmental changes than others.

With graphics, models, photos and a large taxidermied owl, students will learn how to compare and contrast hunting strategies of birds of prey. 


Students and parents alike learn-through-playing in a giant sandbox! This hands-on interactive watershed modeling activity is a unique experience, where you can learn the elements of a healthy watershed and then use that knowledge to create ideal Salmon habitat.


Learn computer coding to program a salmon robot, and help it navigate up a river to its spawning grounds.


Join the Audubon society to search high and low for life-like wooden bird models. Learn skills to help identify birds that you can see right here in North Central Washington.


Try your hand at using cord and thread from the fibers of plants to make a creation, similar to traditional nets, bags, baskets and belts.

Explore techniques used to produce traditional tools.

Learn a basic greeting in the native language nxaʔamxčín. It is a Salish dialect used by the Wenatchis, Moses Columbia, Chelan and Entiat tribes. Salish is a language used throughout most of the plateau regions from Montana to the west coast in Washington state.

 Learn about traditional and modern fishing tools and methods, and how salmon play an important role as a First Food for Columbia plateau tribes. 

Learn and play traditional games enjoyed by the tribes of the Plateau.

The Columbia river is the lifeline for plateau tribes. Before the advent of cars and roads, rivers provided easy and swift transportation. Learn about traditional canoe building and heritage from an expert.

Learn about a traditional tipi and hear Native American legends conveying the importance of salmon, wildlife, and rivers to their culture from a renowned Native American storyteller.

2023 Festival Registration

Online registration for the 2023 event has closed. If you missed it, please contact to see if there is still space for your students. 

2024 Early bird registration (for teachers who provided signed photo release forms for their whole class or completed the post-festival event evaluation in 2023) will open mid-summer 2024. Those who qualify for early registration will receive an email with a registration link. If you would like to know if you qualify for early bird registration, please contact our Education Coordinator.

We recommend that all teachers watch the Teacher Orientation video below to help make the most of your festival experience. 

Teacher Orientation

Or, watch it below…

2023 Teacher Resources

Post Event Evaluation Form

After the festival, teachers are asked to complete the Post Event Evaluation Form to provide feedback on their Salmon Fest experience. The survey will be made available for several weeks following each event.