All Corps navigation locks on the Columbia River are temporarily closed from March 7 - 22 for regularly scheduled annual inspections, preventative maintenance and repairs. Click to learn more.

Contact the
Lock Operator


Lock   Phone   VHF-FM
Portland District
Bonneville   541-374-8323   WUJ 33
The Dalles   541-298-4007   WUJ 34
John Day   541-298-9712   WUJ 35
Walla Walla District
McNary    541-922-2231    WUJ 41
   509-543-3231    WUJ 42


   509-282-3218    WUJ 43


  509-399-2233 x231    WUJ 44
  509-843-1493 x231    WUJ 45


Locking through John Day Dam

John Day Lock & Dam is located 216 miles upriver from the mouth of the Columbia River near the city of Rufus, Ore. Dedicated in 1968, construction of John Day Lock & Dam was completed in 1971. At the time of it's completion, John Day had the highest single-lift in the world, at 113 feet.


Lock length 650 ft
Lock width 86 ft
Max lift 113 ft
Avg transit time 30 min
 Phone  541-298-9712


Columbia-Snake inland waterway

Location map of Columbia and Snake River navigation locks.


The Corps’ Portland and Walla Walla districts maintain about 350 miles of the federal navigation channel from Portland, Ore. to Lewiston, Idaho. The locks along this import/export gateway are also open to recreational boaters, with a recreation-priority lock schedule in effect mid-May through mid-September.

The navigation lock towers at John Day Lock & Dam.

Safe recreational lockage through John Day Dam

Life jacket worn, nobody morns.

Safety first:
Safety is the prime consideration when locking any type of recreational vessel through a lock. Operators must require all passengers to wear a coast guard approved life jacket.

Radio ahead: Vessels equipped with marine VHF-FM Channel 14 should contact the lock operator as soon as contact can be made, or at least 30 minutes before arrival at the lock. Vessels equipped with marine VHF-FM Channel 14 should use the appropriate call sign. Radio is the preferred contact method. Lock operators can also be contacted by phone.

Boaters without radios should look for signs directing them to pull cord signals and intercoms located up- and downstream from the lock. Pull the cord to signal the lock operator. Speak directly to the lock operator over the intercom.

Lock operator instructions: Please follow all directions from the lock operator when using the locks or operating in the vicinity of the locks. Lock operator has final authority on the suitability of a craft for lockage. The order of passage through the lock is at the discretion of the lock operator. The boat arriving first usually will be locked through first, but there are exceptions. Commercial vessels and government contract vessels take precedence between September 15 and May 15.

Signals for entering and exiting the lock: Enter when the green light is on. Stand clear when the red light is on. The lock operator may signal the lock is ready for entry by sounding one long blast on an air horn, or ready for exit by sounding one short blast.


Safety notes:
  • Always wear a properly fitted life jacket!
  • Follow the instructions of the lock operator.
  • Reduce speed to a minimum--no wake--consistent with safe navigation. 
  • As a general rule, remain at least 200 feet astern of the vessel ahead. 
  • Neither passengers nor freight may be unloaded at the locks.
  • Keep clear of barge traffic. Obstructing commercial traffic is unsafe and unlawful.
  • Keep careful watch throughout the lockage. In an emergency, you could be notified to quickly release your vessel from the mooring bit.

How to lock through



Ask permission from the lock operator to enter the lock via intercom, radio, or cell phone. Wait to be notified by intercom or radio and horn or light signals to proceed. 

Proceed into the lock, and place fenders fore and aft on the side of the vessel, high enough to protect the outermost edge of the vessel.

  Tie up at the mooring bitt designated by the lock operator. Position your vessel so the mooring bit is amidship. Do not tie up to a ladder.


 Aerial view of a vessel, properly moored for safe lockage.

View of final mooring position of your vessel for safe lockage.

If there are several vessels in the lock, you may be instructed to tie alongside a craft already secured to one of the mooring bits.

Use two spring lines, one from the bow and one from the stern.

Secure both lines around the mooring bitt and remain alert in case the bit gets stuck and you need to release the lines quickly. Please remain secured to the bitt until told to proceed by the lock operator