Day trip choices abound in Grant County and beyond
Quincy is uniquely positioned nearly smack dab in the center of Washington. Using the town as your home base, try these day trips that are an easy drive from Quincy:
-Northeast of Quincy is the Grand Coulee Dam, a 90-minute drive along Highway 28 to Highway 17. The Coulee Dam Visitor’s Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The Visitor’s Center has extended summer hours running Memorial Day through Sept. 30.
When at the Grand Coulee Dam take a free, 50-minute tour of the John W. Keys III Pump-Generating Plant. From April 1 to May 27 tours start at 10 a.m. and are every two hours. The tour at 4 p.m. is the final tour of the day. Seats are on a first come, first served basis.
After the tour, take in Grand Coulee’s popular laser light show “One River, Many Voices.” The free light show is scheduled nightly, running the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through Sept. 30. From Memorial Day weekend through July 31 the show begins at 10 p.m.During the month of August the show starts at 9:30 p.m. Through the month of September, the show begins at 8:30. The best places to watch the show are from the visitor’s center or from the park below. For more information go to www.usbr.gov/grandcoulee/visit or call 509-663-9265.
Find out how large-scale renewable energy is created at the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, 25901 Vantage Highway in Ellensburg. The giant wind turbines can create up to 273 megawatts of electricity. Wild Horse boasts one of the largest solar installations in the Northwest, generating up to 502 kilowatts of electricity.
Wild Horse has a visitors center where people can learn about how renewable energy is created. Employees also offer tours of the turbines and the facility. The facility is open to the public from April 1 through Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free guided tours are twice daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
-Did you know there’s a petrified forest in Washington? Or that it’s 30 minutes from Quincy? Gingko Petrified Forest is located on a trail off the Vantage Highway. It is clearly marked with a parking lot below and visitor’s signs.
There are different routes on the trail ranging from a mile and a half or the full extended trail which is about three miles and is not difficult to walk. On the trail are different petrified trees which are labeled with the species name.
After walking through the Petrified Forest, head back in toward Vantage and visit Ginkgo State Park. Ginkgo State Park Interpretive Center has many samples of petrified wood from the area.
While there you can take in a brief movie that explains how they were formed. Remember that Ginkgo requires a state Discovery Pass for vehicle access and day use.
The Ginkgo Interpretive Center is open April 1 through Sept. 30. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during that time; however, days of operation vary most months. The center is open daily from June 16 through Sept. 15.
-Just 20 minutes from Quincy to the northeast is the little town of Soap Lake. For over 100 years, the community of Soap Lake has attracted visitors from all over the country seeking its healing waters.
Soap Lake is famous for its healing minerals, which includes sulfur and a myriad of other minerals. The black mud from the bottom of Soap Lake is said to heal skin conditions and even give some relief to those who suffer from arthritis.
The main public entrance to the beach at Soap Lake is off Highway 17, just past Main Street to the left.
The town of Soap Lake is a community of artisans and actors who lend their talents to keep things lively. The Masquers Theater in Soap Lake features talented local actors who return again and again to bring marvelous productions to the Masquers stage.
Go to www.masquers.com to view the schedule for upcoming shows and to purchase tickets online.
-The Ephrata Raceway Park, a quarter-mile paved racing oval, has been entertaining crowds for four decades. And it’s only a 15-minute drive from Quincy.
Located at 14156 Road B.3 N.W. in Ephrata, it remains a hangout for local families and amateur racers.
Watch for special events, such as the North American Big Rigs, July 9, the Northwest PRo 4 Alliance Challenge Season Championships along with the Tri State Street Stock Series and Motocross. Watch also for some specialty shows.For more information,, go to www.ephrataracewaypark.com.
By Tammara Green, QVPR contributor. This story originally appeared in the 2016-2017 Quincy Visitors Guide. Pick up a visitors guide at the QVPR at 305 Central Ave. S.