Although river cruising is a lot younger than its ocean cousin, there is no doubt that it is the fastest growing sector within the cruising industry. And whilst it is European rivers that are currently leading the way, many American waterways are also experiencing a continual rise in popularity. Perhaps the most plied routes through the USA are along the Upper and Lower Mississippi, but there is much interest in the Columbia and Snake Rivers too.
Situated in the north-west part of the country, close to the Canadian border, the Columbia and Snake Rivers are gaining more tourist traffic every year. Operators such as The American Queen Steamboat Company, Un-Cruise and Noble Caledonia have all moved to take a share of the market in recent years and the decision made by Viking River Cruises to start offering Mississippi trips from 2016 has prompted some to postulate that a move towards the Pacific Coast could soon follow.
If you choose to sail these waterways you will have plenty to see and do during your journey. The experience will be dominated by many beautiful natural sights, so let’s take a look at some of these in more detail.
At the point where the Columbia and Snake Rivers meet, you will find the Sacajawea National Park. This 284-acre area is made up of many different habitats including wetlands, sand dunes and freshwater lakes; making it a great place for wildlife spotting. Many species of bird make their home here, along with deer, raccoons, coyotes and more. It is not just nature that takes centre stage though, as this is the perfect place to learn about Lewis and Clark. These two legendary explorers camped here during their 1804 expedition and the park is named after their Shoshone Indian companion, Sacagawea.
The Cascade Range extends all the way from British Columbia down into California. Within it lie a number of active volcanoes and the Columbia River flows right through a picturesque section known as the Columbia River Gorge. The rugged peaks and native firs here give the scenery an Alpine feel and animals such as bears (black and grizzly), cougars, beavers and deer have all been spotted within this habitat. This part of the river is also a great spot for extreme sports and, due to its stunning landscapes, has been designated a National Scenic Area.
As you make port in the city of Portland, Oregon, you may well get a chance to explore the Forest Park. This is the largest urban park in the USA and offers some fantastic views of the city as well as excellent walking opportunities. The various different trails take you through many types of terrain as you journey across quaint bridges, beside cute creeks and through the habitats of animals such as woodpeckers, owls, voles, bobcats, elk and bats.
The Palouse River is a minor tributary of the Snake and it is along this stretch of water that you will find the Palouse Falls State Park. The area is made up of 105 acres in total and is home to the impressive Palouse Falls; a waterfall with a height of nearly 200 feet and that is said to have been created by a mythical creature known as ‘Big Beaver’. After being chased and speared by four giant brothers that lived in the area, Big Beaver created the canyon down which the water flows with his claws, tail and body as he fell to the ground. In the spring and summer time, the excellent views on offer are made all the more breathtaking by the high volume of water that tumbles over Palouse Falls.
With a great deal of history and natural beauty in the area, Columbia and Snake River cruises have so much to offer. For more information about the itineraries we have available, call us on the number at the top of the screen.
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