PHOTO: The American Empress follows the path of Lewis & Clark. (Courtesy American Queen Steamboat Company)
With one of the largest river basins in the United States, the Columbia River is among the most important—and dominant—environmental features in the Pacific Northwest.
Encompassing 260,000 square miles, the Columbia River winds its way through parts of seven states and one Canadian province. It passes through four mountain ranges, and many different types of natural environments. It also provides a home or gathering place for a wide range of creatures, both in the water and on the land alongside of it.
All of which you can see on an amazing river cruise aboard the American Queen Steamboat Company.
The Columbia River Gorge is a place that transports you to what seems like another world, one that offers breathtaking views and attention-grabbing vistas around every bend. It is a journey that can easily occupy a multiple-day road trip or—better yet—a relaxing voyage on the water.
You will encounter just about everything you would hope to see in this kind of adventure, including hypnotic waterfalls, charming quiet towns, lush vineyards and natural landscapes that seem virtually undisturbed. Of course, there are also plenty of places to take a relaxing (or strenuous) hike to get some exercise and immerse yourself in your thoughts. No matter what type of scenery, climate or natural atmosphere you are seeking, chances are good you will be able to find it somewhere along the path of this mighty river.
The extensive span and multiple climate conditions of this river is a big part of its appeal for travelers. By taking a trip down this one massive river, you will pass through many different climate and weather changes, and can see a seemingly endless series of new environmental outlooks. This makes it like several great journeys all in one. Just as one example, it is rare that you get to see a river that flows right through a mountain range. Not only will you see that when you travel the course of the Columbia River, but that will be followed by a spot in another section of the river where you will be transported into what is essentially a rain forest. All along the way, you will be amazed by the creatures, flowers and greenery you will see as you observe the waterway’s ecosystem.
The river has a compelling beauty, but also serves a critical role in supporting the communities throughout the region. The 19 hydroelectric dams found along the river provide much of the area’s power supply. The river also helps provide critical irrigation to hundreds of thousands of acres of farmlands. Of course, the river has for many years also served an important function as a means of transportation, providing a way for critical goods and resources—as well as people—to get from one location on the river route to another. Today, it continues to serve as a key transportation route, with many ships and boats traveling its waters on a regular basis.
Tour the Columbia River and all of the sights along its route the way they were meant to be seen—from a vantage point on the water. American Queen Steamboat Company offers a variety of trips along this route, so book your trip now.