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Columbia River Cruise Port Guide

Columbia River
Columbia River. Credit: Pixabay license

A typical eight-day cruise on the Columbia and Snake rivers goes from Hayden Island, Oregon, to Clarkston, Washington.

The itinerary crosses back and forth between the states of Oregon and Washington. It may include Astoria, Oregon; Mount St. Helens, Washington; Columbia River Gorge; Stevenson, Washington; The Dalles, Oregon; Richland, Washington; and Clarkston, Washington.

What is the appeal of a Colmumbia River cruise? It is the bountiful views of nature and the relative quiet of the passage compared to the major cities that line the Mississippi River. It also is more likely to attract cruise passengers who live in the western half of the United States and Canada.

Hayden Island with a population of 1,100 people lays claim as the only island community in Oregon. It is in the middle of the Columbia River where the Interstate 5 bridge crosses between Oregon and Washington.

Astoria with a population of 10,000 people is the oldest settlement west of the Rockies. It has a replica of Fort Clatsop where the Lewis and Clarke expedition sheltered during the winter of 1805 and 1806.

Mount St. Helens is the site of a 1980 volcanic eruption that destroyed 230 square miles of landscape. The typical river cruise includes a complimentary excursion to a viewing site.

Columbia River Gorge is the largest federally protected National Scenic Area in the United States. A cruise through the gorge may include a stop at the town of Stevenson, Washington. It is near Multnomah Falls, the second tallest waterfall in the United States at more than 600 feet high.

The Dalles, a city of more than 13,000 people, is the last stop on the historic and pioneer Oregon Trail. It overlooks the Columbia River Gorge.

Pendleton, Oregon, is the largest city on the cruise with a population of more than 16,000 people. It is known for indigenous Native Indian tribes in the area.

Clarkston, a small city with a population of more than 7,000 people, is the gateway to Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America. Clarkston is named for William Clark of the historic Lewis and Clark expedition. It sits across the Snake River from Lewiston, Idaho, which was named after Meriwether Lewis of the same expedition. The expedition passed through the area by canoe in 1805.

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 03, 2023

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