A Columbia River cruise offers a sense of adventure for those who love the outdoors. Part of the journey includes areas seen by Lewis and Clark on their expedition. Some of the loveliest scenery in the United States is found in this area. If you ever wanted to get a good taste of what the Pacific Northwest is like, this is one of the best ways to do it. A major advantage to cruising the Columbia River is that smaller ships are used, so the pace is a lot more relaxing. You're likely to experience interesting historical lectures as well.
Most cruises in this area take 7-8 days. However, extra destinations might be added for a 10-day trip. Portland, The Columbia River Gorge, Clarkston, and Astoria are commonly visited. Regardless of which ports you visit, this will certainly be a memorable trip for nature lovers, as well as families who want their kids to experience history up close. Here are some of the major highlights of a Columbia River cruise:
Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area
This protected scenic area is located in both Oregon and Washington and is 80 miles long. Much of the land within the area is under special protection, and land use within residential areas is restricted to help preserve the fragile ecosystem. The area is surrounded by 4,000 foot high walls that make a most impressive sight. A visitors' center in The Dalles has several interpretive exhibits. Recreational activities are possible all year due to the cool climate. Summer activities include wildlife watching and photography, rafting, kayaking, hiking and camping. Winter activities include skiing and snowboarding. Wildlife seen in the area include bald eagles, lynx, bears, and wolves.
The falls are one of Oregon's most popular attractions, with the falls at a height of over 600 feet. The area was crafted by floods that occurred during the Missoula Ice Age. If you don't mind a hike, there's a trail that can be taken to the top of the falls. From the top of the falls, you'll have an excellent scenic view. There are also two scenic highways that allow visitors to see the falls from the comfort of a car. The historic Multnomah Falls Lodge offers a visitors' center, a gift shop, and a restaurant with excellent views.
Astoria is a charming little Victorian town in Oregon. A number of colorful old homes still stand here. The town hosts the Columbia River Maritime Museum. One of the highlights of this museum is a map showing where numerous shipwrecks are located. Fort Clatsop is nearby, and still has rooms that resemble those used by soldiers in the early 1800's. A number of small gift shops and boutiques are located in the historic downtown area. If wildlife watching is a favorite activity of yours, several small islands in the middle of the Columbia River offer good opportunities.