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Views from the Columbia and Snake Rivers Cruise


In October, I joined guests for a river cruise aboard the newest vessel in our fleet, the 88-guest S.S. Legacy. Sailing down the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the fall, when leaves are changing color and weather is cool and crisp and sunny, afforded all of us aboard grand scenery and ideal conditions for exploring, sightseeing and taking photos along the way. 

Starting in Portland, Oregon, the journey begins on the Willamette River connecting to the Columbia River for the trip east through eight locks and dams and eventually the Snake River. Here are some of my favorite sights and tours along the rivers.

Multnomah Falls

One of the first stops is a shoreside tour to visit the towering and incredibly scenic Multnomah Falls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River along the historic Columbia River Highway. The falls is the tallest in Oregon and drops in two steps. You can walk up to a number of viewing platforms and across the bridge over one of the falls. Many people come here to take photos. You should too! This could be your holiday card photo.

columnar basalt

As you travel east along the river, the scenery changes dramatically. Lush forests and greenery give way to the dramatic Columbia River Gorge, rolling hills of the Palouse and then the more arid land east to Hells Canyon. Keeping an eye on the changing landscape is one of the joys of a river cruise. One night during an early evening happy hour in the lounge, the sun painted the landscape with a soft copper tone and many of us grabbed our cameras to take advantage of the soft light. Chief Mate Kevin Martin had just given his presentation on geology, making it even more interesting for us all to watch and identify our surroundings. Columnar basalt! The volcanic history of this region appears clearly before us as we cruise by striking land forms. Many more striking examples were to follow on our jet boat ride up the Snake River into Hells Canyon.


Now for a meal break. We ate like Kings and Queens! This is one dinner menu from the trip. Each evening, we were faced with such difficult choices--the fish or the meat? How about the always innovative vegetarian entreé? Unable to make a decision some nights, I would ask for half and half to try a bit of each. The Autumn Cake listed here for dessert was my favorite of the trip. Lucky for you, we have the recipe!

Locks and dams

As we transit the Columbia and Snake Rivers, we pass through eight locks and dams each way, which means we go through a total of 16 times. That's a lot of locks. You'll have plenty of opportunities to ogle the wonders of these man-made marvels. At the Bonneville Dam, an included tour to the visitor center takes you up close to the action with views of the massive turbines and the fish ladder.

Maryhill Museum

Maryhill Museum is unlike any other museum I've ever visited. Everyone loves this place. And so do I. The story behind it is quite unusual. Sam Hill built it originally as a home for his wife. Apparently, that didn't work so well. She didn't want to live here in the boonies so went back East. Much later, it was turned into a museum and now houses a very eclectic and interesting collection of art. Native art? Check. Furniture from the Queen of Romania? Check. Rodin? Oh yes and tons! The lovely view and outdoor sculpture garden are icing on the cake. It's a beautiful place to spend a few hours (or more!)

I'd be remiss without showing you the grand vessel that carried us along the rivers. Here's a view of the stern of this fine vessel. Isn't she splendid?

S.S. Legacy

Thanks for the river cruise on the S.S. Legacy. It was grand. Join us this spring or fall on your own journey along the rivers.

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