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There are many other rivers in the United States that you can cruise besides some of the more well-known – the Mississippi, the Hudson and the Columbia Rivers. Did you know there are more than 250,000 rivers in the United States? Of course that doesn’t mean there are river cruises available on all of them.
You’ll find different types of river cruises and different types of river boats travelling the waterways. Many of the major cities have rivers running through them, which also means that many of these destinations have river cruises available.
On some of the smaller rivers that wind through smaller towns and cities, you’ll often have the opportunity to see beautiful landscape or interesting wildlife. In some of the southern states like Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana and Tennessee, you’ll find eco-cruises or trips that take you very close to nature.
In the larger cities, the focus is more on sightseeing – buildings, landmarks, historical sites. Some cruises feature entertainment and some even serve a gourmet meal.
Let’s take a look at 17 U.S. rivers and waterways that have day and evening cruises.
Boston Skyline at Night
The Boston Harbor is an estuary that consists of both an inner and outer harbor. Both harbors are fed by rivers, and some islands and peninsulas keep it enclosed from the open Atlantic Ocean.
The inner Boston Harbor stretches from the outflow of the Charles River and the Mystic River. And the outer Boston Harbor has several rivers that empty into it including the Neponset, Weir, Weymouth Fore and the Weymouth Back. Both harbors are joined at Castle Island in South Boston.
Cruises on the Boston Harbor are available year round and may include other waterways.
Cape Fear River in Wilmington, North Carolina
The Cape Fear is a river that is located entirely in North Carolina. It extends for about 200 miles from its source at the confluence of the Deep and Haw Rivers until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.
Cape Fear River is a blackwater river that has swampland in areas. The river north of Fayetteville is not considered navigable.
Cruises on Cape Fear River are available in Wilmington from April through November.
Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts
By Eric Hill from Boston, MA, USA (City Flow) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Charles River is a rather small river that is located entirely in Massachusetts. It flows for about 80 miles from Echo Lake to Boston’s Inner Harbor.
A cruise on the Charles River will take you between Cambridge and Boston and will also probably include the Inner Boston Harbor.
Some cruises are available year round. And others are more seasonal and are offered during the warmer months between May and October.
By Alex GoykhmanGoyk at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
The Chicago River runs directly through the city of Chicago in between the buildings that make up its impressive skyline. It’s a 156-mile waterway that is made up of rivers and canals and is also connected to Lake Michigan.
Cruises on the Chicago river are seasonal and are available during the warmer months usually from April through October.
The Colorado River begins in Rocky Mountains, CO and flows for 1,450 miles through five US cities before reaching Mexico. Some cities along the Colorado River include Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction, CO; Moab, UT and Page and Yuma, AZ.
Cruises are available on the Colorado River in Moab, UT from April through October.
And river cruises from Flagstaff, AZ are available throughout the year.
The Cumberland River begins in the state of Kentucky and is indirectly connected to the Mississippi River. It flows for 688 miles through Tennessee and then back through Kentucky until it reaches the Ohio River near Paducah, Kentucky.
Nashville is the major city on the Cumberland River. It is featured on a few Mississippi River cruise itineraries; but most often, it’s a river to enjoy right in Nashville on a day or evening cruise.
There are a few cruise lines that offer day and evening cruises in Nashville throughout most of the year; although, probably not in December.
Philadelphia from the Delaware River
By Wolle8ball (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Delaware River is just over 300 miles long. It begins in the state of New York near the Catskill Mountains and flows through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware before reaching its mouth at the Delaware Bay.
Major cities along this river include Trenton and Camden, New Jersey; Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Some cruises are seasonal and are available between March and November, but you’ll find some suppliers that offer cruises on the Delaware River year round.
Norfolk, Virginia Skyline From the Elizabeth River
By Joey Sheely (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Elizabeth River is really a tidal estuary that is located in southeastern Virginia. This very small river is formed by several other waterways. It flows for six miles and is also connected to Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway.
The main city on the Elizabeth River is Norfolk, Virginia. You’ll find river cruises in Norfolk year round.
Milwaukee Skyline From the Milwaukee River
By Patrick43470 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Milwaukee River is just over 100 miles long. It’s located entirely in the state of Wisconsin. The river flows through the city of Milwaukee where it forms a confluence with two other rivers - the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic - and is also where the Milwaukee River flows into Lake Michigan.
A Riverwalk lines the river through the downtown area and is popular with both locals and visitors. Pubs, stores and cafes are visible on both sides of the river.
Milwaukee River cruises are available from May through October.
The Missouri River is 2341 miles long and is the longest river in the United States. Surprised? It’s not the Mississippi like many people think.
Along its course, the river flows through seven states from Wyoming to Missouri, including major cities such as Great Falls, Montana; Bismarck, North Dakota; Sioux City, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Kansas City, Kansas; and Kansas and St. Louis, Missouri.
Steamboat river cruises are available on the River City Star Riverboat in Omaha, Nebraska from April through October.
New River in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
By WPPilot (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The New River is a small river in south Florida that begins in the Florida Everglades and flows for about 30 miles before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. Fort Lauderdale is a major city along this river.
Although, the New River is so close to the ocean; and there are many ocean cruising options along the coastal waters of south Florida, only this cruise will bring you into the city.
Cruises on the New River are available year round.
The Oklahoma River is part of the North Canadian River, which flows through two states before reaching Oklahoma. Through Oklahoma City, there is a 7-mile stretch of the river that has been renamed the Oklahoma River. There are several different types of boat trips available through Oklahoma City, including a public ferry.
Oklahoma River cruises are available from April through December.
Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland
By G. Edward Johnson http://EdwardJohnson.com/ (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Pataspco River is another east coast river. It is located in central Maryland, where it extends for 39 miles before reaching the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is a major city on the Pataspco River.
There are a few suppliers that offer river cruises in Baltimore. And surprisingly, even though it’s located pretty far north, cruises are available year round.
San Antonio Riverwalk
By Billy Hathorn (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The San Antonio River begins at San Antonio Springs, which is just a few miles north of the city’s downtown area. The river extends for 240 miles before joining the Guadalupe River in southeastern Texas about ten miles before reaching the Gulf of Mexico.
A cruise in San Antonio will take you through the heart of the city and through the famous San Antonio Riverwalk.
River cruises are available year round.
Philadelphia Skyline From the Schuylkill River
The Schuylkill River is 135 miles long and is located entirely in the state of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is one of the major cities on this river and is also where the Schuylkill joins the Delaware River.
Water sports are popular on this river as well as boating. Surrounding the river, the Schuylkill River Trail stretches for about 30 miles from Philadelphia to Mont Clare. The trail is also popular for other outdoor activities like bike riding, jogging and rollerblading.
Cruises on the Schuykill River are available from some of the suppliers year round.
The Snake River is located in the Pacific Northwest. It's 1078 miles long and flows Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Overnight cruises are available on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, but there are also day cruises available.
Some cities along this waterway include Jackson, WY; Boise, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls and Lewiston, ID; and Tri-Cities, WA.
Cruises are available from May through August.
You can take a scenic cruise from Boise, ID on the Snake River.
Or if you're up for an adventure cruise, you can brave the waters on a Snake River cruise through Hells Canyon, which is located on the Oregon/Idaho border.
Hawthorne Bridge Over the Williamette River in Portland
By Fcb981 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Williamette River is located in the state of Oregon on the west coast of the United States. It flows for 187 northward from Eugene to Portland where it empties into the Columbia River.
A cruise on this river in Portland may also include travel on the Columbia River depending on the itinerary. If you stay on the Williamette River, your scenic boat ride through the city of Portland will probably include a meal.
And if your boat ride includes the Columbia River, you might travel to the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.
Either way Portland has a spirit of its own to enjoy as you cruise the waterways surrounding the city.
Cruises on the Williamette River are available year round.
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