a cruise vacation doesn’t have to mean traveling far from home; you can explore
some of America’s most beautiful and historic rivers by cruise ship. That
includes the Columbia River, the largest in the Pacific Northwest, essential to
the region’s culture and economy for hundreds of years.
week-long Columbia River cruises sail a portion of the Snake River, too. Together,
the two rivers create a 500-mile waterway from Clarkston, Washington, to
Astoria, Oregon. The superb scenery incudes the sunny, rolling hills of eastern
Washington, the spectacularly eroded walls of the Columbia River Gorge, brooding
Mount St. Helens, and the verdant green slopes leading to the Pacific Ocean.
explorers have sailed the Columbia; the best-known are Meriwether Lewis, William
Clark and their Corps of Discovery Expedition. They mapped the river in late
1805 and early 1806 as part of their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase.
Your cruise ship journey will be much more comfortable than theirs, but you’ll
feel the excitement of exploration all the same.
of a Columbia River cruise include Hells Canyon, a rugged and beautiful
wilderness area. The canyon is best seen on a boat tour; watch for ancient
pictographs, abandoned mines, and magnificent wildlife such as elk, mule deer
and big horn sheep.
Columbia River Gorge was formed by the slow, patient progress of water and ice
cutting through the Cascade Mountains. This stunning area has numerous waterfalls
– Multnomah Falls, which plunges 620 feet, is the most famous. As you pass
through the 80-mile gorge, you’ll transition from dry grasslands in the east to
temperate rainforest in the west (one reason to pack clothing you can easily
Clatsop is where the Lewis and Clark expedition spent the winter of 1805
(although the current building is a reconstruction built in 2006). You can
learn about how the expedition built the original fort and survived a very
harsh winter. In fact, the rest of the country was certain that the entire
expedition had perished in the Pacific Northwest, so their return to St. Louis
in September 1806 caused a sensation.
Columbia River cruises include a pre- or post-cruise overnight stay in
Portland, Oregon, as well as port calls in Astoria, at the western end of the
river; The Dalles, the last stop on the Oregon Trail; and Pendleton, known for
its historic wool trade.
more information about cruising the Columbia and other great American rivers,
talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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