Arguably the most important river network of the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia and Snake rivers are navigable for 465 miles from the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon through Washington to the Idaho border. Cruising these rivers, you will see dramatic waterfalls dropping into the Columbia River Gorge, visit historic forts where blue-coated U.S. Cavalry strived to protect the new frontier, explore Hells Canyon the deepest gorge in North America and navigate the locks and dams that have tamed this mighty river.
From its source in the Canadian Rockies in southeastern British Columbia, the Columbia River flows southwest before turning southeast and cutting a dramatic gorge in the volcanic shield and meeting the westward flowing Snake River.
The Snake River rises in Yellowstone National Park and flows some 1,000 miles through Idaho and, before meeting the Columbia River in Washington. It is navigable up to Clarkson in Washington after which it flows through Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America. The Snake River flows through an area of SE Washington known as the Channeled Scablands consisting of scarred black rock cut by canyons, channels, pools, rock basins, ragged buttes and cliffs.
From its confluence with the Snake, its largest tributary, the Columbia runs nearly due west through The Dalles and Portland to Astoria and the Pacific Ocean. Where the river cuts through the Cascade Mountain Range, it has created the dramatic 100-mile-long and 3,000-foot-deep Columbia River Gorge. Before the dams, the river plunged over basalt cliffs and rapids in the Gorge, but today the engineered Columbia provides a nearly level pathway to the sea with the tide reaching the western end of the Gorge, about 100 miles from the ocean. The lower river is flat and includes, Sauvie Island, one of the largest river islands in North America.