Columbia River Cruises
From Portland to Clarkston

Unless you are taking a day or evening cruise on the Columbia River, your itinerary will probably also include travel along the Snake River between Richland and Clarkston, Washington. Most multi-day cruise packages are between Portland, Oregon and Clarkston, Washington.

Portland, Oregon

By Amateria1121 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll find companies that offer day and evening cruises along the Columbia River in Portland and along the Columbia River Gorge. Some of these companies also feature cruises on the Williamette River, which meets the Columbia River in Portland.

Columbia River Facts

The Columbia River is located in the Pacific Northwest. It begins in British Columbia, Canada and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon.  Measuring 1243 miles in length, it is the largest river in this region of the United States.

Columbia River Gorge and Cascade Range

Columbia River Gorge through the Cascade Range

By Bala from Seattle, USA (Bleeding Skies  Uploaded by X-Weinzar) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A prominent feature of this waterway is the Columbia River Gorge. It is a federally-protected area that extends 80 miles from eastern Portland, Oregon to the confluence of the Columbia and Deschutes River. 

Winding through the Cascade Range between Washington and Oregon, the Columbia River Gorge is up to 4,000 feet deep and has many waterfalls on both sides. There are over 90 waterfalls along its stretch on the Oregon side!

The Snake River is the largest tributary of the Columbia. The Columbia, Snake and Yakima Rivers form a confluence in the Tri Cities area of Washington about 130 miles west of Clarkston. 

Columbia River Destinations

A cruise on the Columbia River will begin or end in Portland, Oregon. There are a few other cities in Oregon that will be included in the itinerary as well as a few in Washington.

Astoria, Oregon is located northwest of Portland. It will be the destination either before or after Portland depending on your itinerary. 

Most itineraries include one day of scenic cruising along the Columbia River Gorge. From your cruise ship, you’ll have a spectacular view of this very scenic area. 

Panoramic View of the Columbia River Gorge

By Cacophony (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A few destinations along the Gorge, include The Dalles, Oregon and Stevenson, Washington. The Dalles is located between Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams – a very picturesque area. And in Stevenson, Washington you will have a chance to see the Bonneville Dam.

Tri-Cities, Washington is the point at which your Columbia River cruise will either begin if you depart from Clarkston, Washington. Or it is where your cruise will leave the Columbia River and begin its journey along the Snake River toward Clarkston, Washington.

Columbia River cruises combined with the Snake River usually range from 8 to 9 days in length. Some of the suppliers offering packages include: American Cruise Lines; American Queen Steamboat Company; Lindblad Expeditions; National Geographic; and Un-Cruise.

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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in  river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

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