The Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area — or as the locals call it, “the Gorge” — is one of the world’s great wonders: towering cliffs of brown rock and green trees bisected by the Columbia, America’s seventh-longest (and fourth-biggest by discharge) river.
The river has for millennia gouged its course to the Pacific Ocean. And gouging their own courses atop and throughout those ancient hills: creeks and streams that wriggle down forested slopes and plunge along steep ravines, crisscrossing their way riverward.
These waterways often plummet hundreds of feet into pools backdropped by basalt columns adorned with fluorescent green lichen. The waterfalls create dazzling rainbow mists when the golden gorge sunlight hits the falls just right.
Most people experience the Gorge as they speed down the highways that run along both sides of the river, which isn’t much of an experience at all. Others stop to take photos of iconic spots, such as Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon, or hike the many trails.
But there’s nothing quite like experiencing it from the river itself. USA River Cruises has Columbia Gorge excursions that take in the sights and cities of the Columbia River.
And what a sight it is!
Healing and Reopening
Readers may remember the devastating Eagle Creek Fire in 2017, which burned for several months and torched more than 50,000 acres of the Gorge.
That fire, ignited by a teenager’s fireworks, forced forest officials to close multiple trails as well as six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Fortunately, the firefighters eventually contained the blaze, although it took almost three months.
Now, the process of healing is in full swing, with the portions of the Gorge that burned slowly but surely beginning to return to life. Still, the scars of that fire remain visible across the landscape.
The good news is that many of the most popular hiking trails have been reopened. Forest officials caution, however, that some areas may remain off-limits to visitors for years to come.
The history of the Gorge is filled with dramatic upheavals, whether it’s the wildfires of today or the floodwaters of yesteryear that carved the current shape of the Gorge itself.
All of this history of dramatic change and continuing evolution is on view when you book a Columbia River trip with USA River Cruises.
The Columbia River Gorge is spectacular no matter the vantage point. But even those who feel they know the Gorge like the back of their hand tell us they discover something new when they board a Columbia River cruise.
USA River Cruises offers a wide range of river cruising options. Some of our small ship cruises carry as few as six passengers — or as many as 250.
Take note: These Columbia River cruises fill up quickly, so get in touch with USA River Cruises today for information on booking your very own Columbia River cruise.
Cruising the Columbia Gorge
A few of our more popular offerings:
- The American Harmony, the latest in U.S.-built cruising ships. It holds 187 passengers and sails on three remarkable Columbia River cruises: Northwest Pioneers, Highlights of the Columbia River, and the Columbia and Snake Rivers Cruise.
- The American Empress (9 days, 8 nights) cruises the Columbia from Vancouver, Washington, to Astoria on the spectacular Oregon coast. It also cruises back upstream to The Dalles, Oregon, and Clarkston, Washington.
- The Columbia River Wine Tasting Yacht Cruise (8 days, 7 nights) is filled with rich experiences. The itinerary includes Portland, Astoria, and the Willamette Valley Wine Region.
Get in touch with USA River Cruises today to book your perfect Columbia Gorge river cruise. Remember, they get booked up fast!
For lots more info regarding our Columbia River Gorge cruises, please visit our Columbia River Cruises Page.