Top Columbia River Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews &...

Best Columbia River Cruises in 2024/2025

1 Columbia River trips. Compare tour itineraries from 2 tour companies. 7 reviews. 5/5 avg rating.

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Top Columbia River Attractions

Embark on diverse experiences along the majestic Missouri River with our curated cruises. Explore a range of captivating activities and must-see spots, promising an unforgettable journey through the heart of America.
  • Tracing Lewis & Clark's route along the Missouri River, exploring the American West
  • Kayaking and boating in the National Recreation segment of the river
  • Encountering native wildlife like bald eagles and river otters
  • Fly fishing for monster brown trout, rainbow trout, and carp below Holter Dam and the Fort Peck Reservoir
  • Learning about the American West's history and art at the Lewis and Clark Trail Interpretive Center and the C.M. Russell Museum 
  • Visiting Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area, Fort Clatsop, and Lemhi Pass on the Continental Divide
  • Glamping along the Missouri River with all the necessary amenities
  • Exploring charming towns like New Madrid and Chester 
  • Discovering Paducah's colorful history and Old South traditions
  • Taking a tram to the top of Gateway Arch in St. Louis for breathtaking views of the Mississippi River
  • Stepping back in time at the historic river towns of Hermann and St. Charles
  • Savoring award-winning wines at the Les Bourgeois Vineyards
  • Dancing the night away to live music aboard the Missouri River boat cruise

Columbia River Tours & Travel Guide

Columbia River Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Carving out one of the most scenic areas of the U.S., the 1,200-mile-long Columbia River begins in British Columbia, flowing through Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. It offers both Lewis-and-Clark-style history and abundant year-round recreational opportunities. It's the fourth-largest river in the country.

The best-known section, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Washington state and Oregon, is a haven for river cruises, white water rafting, kayaking, birding, and winter sports. Dozens of waterfalls are another major attraction.

Why Consider a Columbia and Snake River Cruise?
From historical narratives to breathtaking scenery and delectable wines, a Columbia and Snake River cruise promises an enriching and unforgettable adventure for travelers seeking a unique blend of heritage and nature.

A Columbia and Snake River cruise is your chance to delve into a journey rich in American history and natural splendor. The Columbia River has many names — Wimahl, Nch'i-Wàna, and Swah Netk Qhu — reflecting the cultural diversity of the indigenous peoples along its banks. 

This river led to the exploration of the American West by the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean from 1804 to 1806. You can trace their footsteps by joining a Columbia cruise, immersing yourself in landscapes virtually unchanged since their expedition. 

With stunning vistas, wildlife sightings, and cascading waterfalls, the Pacific Northwest offers unparalleled beauty. Moreover, indulge in wine-tasting experiences amidst rustic vineyards reminiscent of Napa's bygone charm. 

Popular Stops Along Columbia River Cruise
There are many scenic stops along the Columbia River. Most cruise lines offer a 3-day, 5-day, or 8-day Columbia River cruise to ensure you have enough time to explore Columbia River's diverse landscapes and cultural history. 

  • Mount Saint Helens Experience: It's easily the most popular experience where a local guide takes you on an extraordinary journey back in time when the volcano explosion helped develop the local communities and changed the course of volcanology.
  • Multnomah Falls: This iconic double waterfall plunges over 600 feet. It's the most visited waterfall in the Pacific Northwest and a popular destination among tourists and locals.
  • Columbia River Gorge: The nationally protected vistas of this stunning canyon are best appreciated from Vista House at Crown Point. This 80-mile gorge is a natural border between Washington and Oregon and has many hidden waterfalls, epic cliffs, and breathtaking meadows. It's a haven for water sports and hiking.
  • Portland, Oregon: Situated in the northwest of Oregon and around the waters of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, it's a popular stop offered by all cruise lines. Take a tram around the city — learn the city's rich history at the Portland Art Museum or visit its countless local breweries that offer a variety of beer and wine selections.
  • Grand Coulee Dam: The Columbia River Basin is one of the largest river basins in North America at approximately 259,000 square miles. It's a major producer of hydroelectric power with the iconic Grand Coulee Dam, one of the world's largest dams. It's a significant contributor to the region's electricity supply, powering communities and industries throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Things To Do on a Columbia and Snake River Cruise
There are plenty of activities on the cruise for you to enjoy — live entertainment music in genres ranging from jazz, country & blues, and rock & roll. Test your golf skills at the onboard putting green, challenge yourself in the fitness center, or visit the spa for a deep relaxation experience.

Wildlife on the Columbia River
You can see plenty of wildlife while cruising the Columbia and Snake rivers, offering nature enthusiasts a glimpse into the thriving ecosystem. More than 200 bird species gracefully soar along the riverbanks, while deer, beavers, turtles, and various other creatures thrive on its banks.

  • Big Horn Sheep: Keep an eye out for Big Horn Sheep, particularly during specific times of the year, as they graze along the shores of the Columbia River and its tributaries. Witness the majestic sight of male sheep dueling for breeding rights, their mighty clashes echoing across the landscape.
  • Gray Wolves: Witness the rare presence of Gray Wolves, a testament to successful reintroduction efforts in the area, as these majestic predators reclaim their habitat along the riverbanks.
  • Salmon Migration: Witness millions of Salmons navigating upstream to spawn in the river, showcasing the natural splendor of the Pacific Northwest. 

While spotting these elusive creatures may require patience and keen observation, Columbia and Snake River cruise tour packages often excel at providing opportunities for wildlife sightings along the river. 

Don't forget to bring binoculars to enhance your wildlife-viewing experience.

Columbia Cruise Wineries
Discover the renowned wineries of the Pacific Northwest while cruising along the Columbia River, a region celebrated for its exceptional wine production.

  • Wine Tours: Cruise operators typically offer exclusive excursions to popular wineries in Washington and Oregon. In Washington, explore the acclaimed wine regions of Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla, and Red Mountain, while in Oregon, venture to the picturesque Willamette Valley.
  • Unique Wine Experiences: Sample delicious chocolate wines at Shallon Winery or explore the offerings at Wine Shack and in Cannon Beach, all while surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Don't forget to check out the infamous Haystack Rock.
  • Vineyard Exploration: With a climate conducive to grape growing, the Columbia River Valley boasts numerous vineyards and wineries, inviting wine enthusiasts to uncover its rich viticultural heritage. Experience the passion and craftsmanship behind each bottle as you cruise through this scenic wine country.

When Is the Best Time To Take a Columbia River Cruise?
Columbia and Snake River cruises operate approximately eight months a year, spanning from April to November, offering ample opportunities for exploration. 

The weather is pretty nippy in October and November but manageable with the proper clothing. Early spring brings rain and pesky mosquitoes, necessitating insect repellent and protective clothing. 

Summer is the best time to visit the Columbia River, with temperatures reaching the high 80s, providing a comfortable environment for cruising without the usual tourist crowds. 

The most captivating time for a Columbia River tour is arguably in the fall when the landscape transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors resembling the vibrant hues of the East Coast. The scenery becomes even more enchanting as the vineyards enter their harvest season, with vines showing brilliant orange and red colors. Explore the Columbia River during fall for a truly magical experience.

Who Will Enjoy Columbia River Cruises?
Columbia River cruises cater to a diverse range of travelers of different ages and preferences — nature enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and those charmed by the Pacific Northwest. With offerings suitable for all age groups, these cruises provide something for everyone. 

Adults can indulge in exotic wine tastings, while teens and active adolescents can enjoy thrilling hiking adventures. In the evenings, live entertainment ensures unforgettable experiences for all onboard. 

Columbia River Reviews & Ratings

5/5  Excellent
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Beware of False Published Itinerary

Feb 2022

Best Part of Trip was Cancelled

signed up to travel the Columbia-Snake River to visit Hell's Canyon. That part of the trip was cancelled by Nat Geo without notifying the passengers. Instead we vi...



Jul 2017

Written on

The Willamette valley ride was a perfect blend of beautiful scenery, great road maps and excellent Pinot Noir

My friend and I signed up for the self guided tour in Oregon. The Willamette valley ride was a perfect blend of beautiful scenery, great road maps and excellent Pino...



Jul 2017

Written on

Lifecycle did a great job arranging our trip

Lifecycle did a great job arranging our trip. Adam was particularly delightful in making it a wonderful experience. I will mention that the drivers in Oregon were pa...



Sep 2016

Written on

At first I was quite sceptical about such a tour, but it was absolutely SUPERB!

My wife and I and our close friends met in Oregon to take a fully guided, week-long tour of the Wine Country (Willamette Valley, Hood River, etc) with LifeCycle. Tri...



Nov 2015

Written on

my wife and I had a fantastic time riding through the wine country of the Willamette Valley, around Mt. Hood

This was our first time in Oregon, and my wife and I had a fantastic time riding through the wine country of the Willamette Valley, around Mt. Hood, and back along t...

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