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Clarkston River Cruise Port Guide

Hells Canyon
Hell’s Canyon is the most popular attraction at the Clarkston cruise port. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

The small city of Clarkston, Washington, is a major port of call for Columbia and Snake river cruises.

Clarkston, with a population of 7,000 people, is the beginning or end for many cruises between it and Portland, Oregon. Clarkston sits where the Snake and Clearwater rivers meet. From there, the Snake eventually merges with the Columbia River.

The port is two hours away from Spokane, Washington. Cruise travelers will fly into Spokane and then drive south to Clarkston to begin their cruise. Otherwise, they begin at Portland, end at Clarkston and drive to Spokane.

Clarkston’s cruise terminal consists of a “Gateway Dock” that serves five cruise lines and thousands of tourists every year. It also is the starting point for the most famous shore excursion at the port.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Clarkston Cruise Port Map

The area has two major points of interest for anyone who has time for a shore excursion before or after a Snake River cruise that includes Clarkston.

The nearby Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America. It has become the top shore excursion for people who take a whitewater ride on jet boats along this Snake River gorge.

Nez Perce National Historical Park, which is 13 miles from Clarkston, is one of 38 sites throughout the western United States that tell the story of the Nez Perce people.

Local Weather

The Clarkston and Spokane area has weather that is similar to most places in the state of Washington. Although it rains fairly often, the rainfall is often light and brief.

During the prime river cruise season from April through October, the average rainfall is about one inch per month or less, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. Historically, it rains less than 10 days a month and as few as three to five days in the summer.

But the average daytime temperature is a bit cool, especially in April and October when it reaches only into the upper 50s Fahrenheit. July and August are the warmest months with average highs in the low 80s Fahrenheit and high 20s Celsius.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
March 02, 2022

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