Local residents and tourists use the Wells Reservoir for recreational opportunities such as: boating, fishing, hiking and camping. Many sportsmen visit the area during the fall and winter months to fish for steelhead and to hunt for waterfowl, upland birds and deer.

Public Safety Measure: No overnight camping allowed at Carpenter Island Boat Launch. More Info here.

View our interactive map of recreation sites around the Wells Reservoir.

​​Water Elevations

Wells forebay elevations at the Project are listed hourly below.  This information should be used as a reference only, not a prediction of future levels.  The Wells Hydroelectric Project license allows for a 10 foot elevation variation of the forebay.  The normal maximum water elevation at the upstream face of the dam is 781 feet above sea level and the normal minimum elevation is 771. The forebay is usually operated in the upper elevations of the allowable range.

The Wells forebay level may fluctuate throughout the day depending on factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount of water released from upstream projects
  • Seasonal river flows
  • Power demand, prescheduled power sales
  • Flows for fish protection

NOTE: The elevation of the Wells Reservoir at boat launches upstream of the dam may be different than the forebay elevation at the dam, depending on Columbia River flow volumes.

The elevations below Wells Dam are influenced by both the operation of Wells Dam and Rocky Reach Dam. This area will often experience significant elevation changes over a very short period of time.

Boaters must use care when launching and piloting boats in the Wells Reservoir and directly below Wells Dam.

Forebay Levels

Wells Reservoir Docks and Piers

Placement of new boat docks or piers on District-owned land around the Wells reservoir is limited to inside the city limits of Pateros, Brewster and Bridgeport.

Studies show that predator fish such as smallmouth bass congregate around docks and piers. Docks and piers also provide velocity refuge for pikeminnow. 

Summer/fall Chinook rear in the reservoir and slowly migrate out of it. Because of the increased opportunity for predation provided by docks, Douglas PUD biologists were concerned that the District might not be able to meet the no-net-impact (NNI) standards in the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).  This concern led to the limitation on the number of boat docks.

The primary intended benefit of the Wells Project is the right and ability to generate electricity at the Project. Operating the Wells Hydroelectric Project in compliance with the legal requirements of the Habitat Conservation Plan and the Wells Project license forms the foundation of this District policy.

Supporting documents:

Wells Dam Portage Instructions

Please complete the Portage Form linked above. A Douglas PUD employee will get in touch with you and finalize details of your trip.

Paddle to the furthest east corner of the east embankment of Wells Dam (see image below). Portage boats to the upstream or downstream corner of the east embankment.

Please stay at your vessel in the forebay until Douglas County PUD personnel arrive at your location.  All portage must be completed with DCPUD personnel in attendance.