Magazine article Sunset

Columbia River Cruising

Magazine article Sunset

Columbia River Cruising

Article excerpt

Weekly tours carry passengers on an odyssey of natural and man-made scenery

CRUISING THE Columbia and Snake rivers, you explore a watery seam that connects not only Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, but also some of the most impressive an varied scenery in the Northwest.

From Portland east to Lewiston, Idaho, you pass through eight sets of locks, rising 738 feet above sea level. One morning you're in the heart of the Columbi Gorge rain forest, where mist drifts in patches over the firs and ferns that drape all but the most vertical of basalt cliffs. The next day you're in Idaho, embarking on a side trip that jet boats you past the naked walls of Hells Canyon, where dabs of crimson sumac and spots of white--bighorn sheep--offer th only visual relief amid miles of dry hills and towering columnar basalt.

This month, several cruise lines begin their fall trips from Portland along the Columbia as far west as Astoria, and east to Lewiston (on the Snake River) and back. Most cruises have naturalists on board who share information on area wildlife and geology.

Scheduled side trips give you a closer look at the communities, commerce, and history along the water. Most ships tour Bonneville Dam, the first and oldest o the Columbia dams. At Hood River, you can ride a train up the apple- and pear-dotted valley into the foothills of Mount Hood. East of the Dalles, you'll see Rodin sculptures at the elegant, isolated Maryhill Museum of Art. …

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