Please note: On Saturday, November 16, 2019, the UnCruise Adventures office closes for the day early, at 2:45 p.m. Pacific Time, for company training. We will reopen at our normal time, 6 a.m. Pacific Time, on Monday, November 18. 

Photo of a American white pelican (Columbia River animals images). Photo: UnCruise Adventures

Hells Canyon bighorn sheep image (Photo: UnCruise Adventures)

Columbia & Snake Rivers:
Wildlife, Topography & Terroir

Along the wide and winding rivers, the landscape changes dramatically from rugged hills and deep gorges to high desert and golden coulees. Each microclimate sustains a unique collection of wildlife, vegetation, and wine varietals that thrive in the specific conditions of that area.

Keep your eyes open for diverse wildlife along the Columbia River and its tributaries. Forests and expansive plateaus provide open range for animals to migrate. While some wildlife is cautiously elusive and easier to spot from a distance, others like twitch-eared deer have become more accustomed to humans. You may spot some of these species of Columbia & Snake Rivers wildlife on your UnCruise Adventure. 

 

Columbia & Snake Rivers Wildlife

  • Mountain goat and bighorn sheep
  • Pronghorn antelope
  • White-tailed deer (pictured) and mule deer
  • American kestrel
  • Bald eagle
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • Osprey
  • American white pelican
  • Spawning salmon
White-tailed deer seen by UnCruise Adventures guests on a Columbia & Snake River cruise (Columbia River animals images)

 

Geology

  • Columnar cliffs in Hells Canyon, Columbia River Gorge, and Palouse Falls
  • Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and other volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range
  • Grande Ronde basalt at Multnomah Falls
  • Ice age flood–carved Columbia Gorge and Beacon Rock
  • Fossils from Miocene-era lava flow floods
  • 7,000-year-old petroglyphs on the walls of Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America
Columnar basalt cliffs above the Deschutes River (Photo: UnCruise Adventures)

 

Agriculture & Viticulture

  • Hearty hops and fruit production create a burgeoning cider and craft beer scene
  • Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from Oregon’s largest AVA, the Willamette Valley
  • Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer from the Columbia Gorge, where white grapes outnumber red
  • Superb Syrah across the sprawling Walla Walla region
  • Critically acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot of Red Mountain
Photo of grapes growing in a vineyard in the Red Mountain AVA (Photo: UnCruise Adventures)

Chart showing why late summer and fall are the best time of year for a Columbia and Snake Rivers Cruise

What's the best time for a Columbia & Snake Rivers cruise? The late summer and fall are great seasons for spotting wildlife along the Columbia River and its tributaries. Young eagles and ospreys are fledging. You can see white pelicans before they migrate, and spot bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon. It's harvesttime in the Hood River Valley, and the fall foliage is at its most colorful in September and October.   

Know which month you want to go? Browse our Columbia & Snake River itineraries to choose between options that emphasize outdoor adventure or a wine and culinary exploration.