Category Archives: River Cruise

Northwest Passage Cruises: May 15-Sept 11 2009

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is characterized by long, warm days with clear blue skies and gentle breezes. Nowhere is more beautiful this time of year than the Columbia River Gorge. This “Summer Celebration” cruise will celebrate the traditions of the past along with the fantastic wineries of the present while exploring the indigenous culture and history of the Columbia River Basin.

Beginning with your visit to the Bonneville Dam Visitors Center, you will transfer through 8 locks and dams on your way to the northwest “seaport” of Clarkston, Washington. An exhilarating jet-boat ride up the famous Hells Canyon on the Snake River will reveal elk, bighorn sheep, and 7,000 year old petroglyphs. An underground tour at Pendleton explores tunnels built in the late 1800’s by Chinese immigrants for illicit purposes and a visit to the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute will immerse you in a living, cultural Native American village. In Walla Walla, you will be treated to tasting and touring at two unique Columbia River wineries.

Join a special sailing, June 19th, with the chairman of the cruise line and his family. Guests will be treated to exclusive amenities at the chairman’s reception, an exciting raptor exhibition, guest speakers discussing the Lewis & Clark expedition, and the chairman’s farewell dinner. Come enjoy a cruise on the Columbia River at a time of year when the temperatures are pleasant, the wildlife is abundant, and the scenery dramatic.

Wild West River Experiences

The Snake River is a major tributary of the Columbia, traveling 1,040 miles from its source in Yellowstone National Park through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. It joins up with the Columbia River near the Tri-Cities area in Eastern Washington (near Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland). People have been living along the Snake River for thousands of years. The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 explored the lower portion of the river. Portions of the Snake River flow through some of the most unspoiled wilderness areas in the continental United States (Hells Canyon National Recreation Area). The river also forms a major portion of Idaho’s western border between it and the state of Oregon.

The Snake and Columbia Rivers are much wilder rivers than most others cruised by riverboats today. Cruises along them are well suited to adventurous clientele. Most Columbia and Snake River cruises operate between Lewiston, Idaho and Astoria, Oregon (near Portland). Itineraries on both rivers generally include visits to Washington wineries, exploration of the region’s spectacular scenery and wildlife and usually offer optional jetboat rides to see the dramatic vertical cliffs of Hells Canyon (a highly recommended excursion). Cruising through locks and canyons, these luxurious river cruise ships generally anchor in strategic spots. These areas are easily explored by kayak which allows people to get up close to the beauty and wonder of the area. Other attractions include shopping, microbreweries, visiting the world’s windsurfing capital (Hood River, Oregon), and seeing the unforgettable Columbia Gorge and the Bonneville Lock and Dam. Local historians, Native American storytellers, local musicians, and artists come on board or entertain on shore as well. Continue reading

Hells Canyon


Hells Canyon is a ten-mile wide canyon located along the border of eastern Oregon and western Idaho. It’s North America’s deepest river gorge at 7,993 feet (2436 m) and the most spectacular feature of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

The canyon was carved and created by the waters of the Snake River which plunges more than a mile below the canyon’s west rim on the Oregon side and 8,000 feet below the peaks of Idaho’s Seven Devils Mountains range to the east. The area is inaccessible by road and a true wilderness paradise.

Artifacts from prehistoric inhabitants as well as the ruins of early 19th century miners and settlers are visible along the Snake River. The earliest known settlers in Hells Canyon were the Nez Perce tribe. Others tribes such as the Shoshone-Bannock, Northern Paiute, and Cayuse Indians frequented the area as well–the mild winters along with ample plant and wildlife were the primary attractions. Pictographs and petroglyphs on the walls of the canyon are a record of the Native American settlements and life in the area.

Three members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition entered Hells Canyon along the Salmon River in 1806. Unfortunately, they turned back without reaching the canyon. It wasn’t until 1811 that the Wilson Price Hunt expedition explored Hells Canyon while seeking a shortcut to the Columbia River. Hunger and cold forced them to turn back, as did many explorers who were defeated by the canyon’s inaccessibility.

Early miners with visions of wealth were next to follow. In the 1860s gold was discovered in river bars near the present-day Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and miners soon penetrated Hells Canyon to seek their mother lode. As well as being difficult to access, gold mining was not profitable here. Evidence of their failed endeavors remains visible along the corridor of the Snake River. Continue reading

American River Cruising-Part 4

The Northwest Passage Cruise

Summer departures:  May 15 – September 11

Mighty Columbia River

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is characterized by long, warm days with clear blue skies and gentle breezes.  Nowhere is more beautiful this time of year  than the Columbia River Gorge.  This “Summer Celebration” cruise will celebrate the  traditions of the past, the fantastic wineries of the present while exploring the indigenous culture and history of the Columbia River Basin.   Beginning with your visit to the Bonneville Dam Visitors center, you will transit 8 locks and dams on your way to the northwest “seaport” of Clarkston, Washington.  An exhilirating jet-boat ride up the famous Hells Canyon, on the Snake River, reveals elk, bighorn sheep and 7,000 year old petroglyphs.    An underground tour at Pendleton explores tunnels built in the late 1800′s by Chinese immigrants for illicit purposes and a visit to the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute immerses you in a living cultural village of Native America.  In Walla Walla, you will be treated to tasting and touring of two unique Columbia River wineries. 

Join a special sailing, June 19th, with the Chairman of the cruise line and his family.  Guests will be treated to exclusive amenities at the chairman’s reception, an exciting Raptor exhibition, guest speakers on the Lewis & Clark expedition and the chairman’s farewell dinner.  Come enjoy a cruise on the Columbia River at a time of year when the temperatures are pleasant, the wildlife abundant and the scenery dramatic.

American River Cruising-Part 3

Taste of the Pacific Northwest

Fall departures: September 13-October 18

This 8 day epicurean cruise on the Columbia River will feature the rich history and delicious flavors unique to this region.  When it comes to the art of wine, Washington State knows its “terroir”-the combination of soil, climate and geography that makes wine distinct.  You will be welcomed aboard in Portland with a taste of Willamette Valley’s signature flavors: a Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris.  To get a feel for the culture and industry of this area, we will visit the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center with a focus on Native foods and the agricultural history of the Columbia River Basin.  A jet boat tour to the Hanford Reach National Monument will evoke memories of WWII and the Cold War era. 

You will be treated to tours and tastings at two of Washington States AVA’s while exploring four of the Columbia Valley’s finest wineries: Coyote Canyon, Terra Blanca, Three Rivers and Beresan. The Fruit Company, where orchards have been hand picked for 65 years, will take you by tractor into the field for fresh picked fruit.   Before returning to Portland,  we’ll visit  the Seafood Consumer Center at Astoria, where you will help our Chef prepare lunch, fusing the freshest seafood with the unique local flavors of Oregon’s fresh fruits, vegetables and cheeses.    Join us and see for yourself why Washington State is ranked among the top wine regions of the world.

American River Cruising-Part 2

River Voyage of Discovery Cruise

Spring departures: April 3-May 1

Fall departures: September 18-October 16

This 8 day journey along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, combines scenic river history and unexpected cultural expeditions.  Learn about the proud Nez Perce Tribe and their way of life, past and present, along the Snake River.  Combine that with an exhilarating jet-boat ride deep into Hells Canyon, North Americas deepest river gorge.  Your small ship will navigate 8 sets of locks and dams, changing elevation a total of 738 feet within 470 miles.  Pioneer history will come alive as you visit the Ft. Walla Walla Museum which houses over 35,000 artifacts, dioramas and a real-life pioneer village.  See the personal effects of the Queen of Romania as well as European paintings and Native arts at the unusual Maryhill Museum.  Visit Ft. Clatsop and experience what life must have been like for the famous Lewis & Clark expedition during the winter of 1806.  Learn about this regions geographical and navigational history at the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center and the Columbia River Maritime Museum.  Cruise in the wake of history and enjoy stories of courage and discovery that await around every scenic bend.

Lewis & Clark, Ft. Clatsop

For availability and prices, contact Rhonda Sand or Linda Bruno at TMI Tours & Cruises.

The Mighty Columbia River

The Columbia River (known as Wimahl or Big River to the Chinook-speaking natives who live on its lowermost reaches) is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It is named after the Columbia Rediviva, the first ship from the western world known to have traveled up the river. It stretches from British Columbia through Washington state, forming much of the border between Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The river is 1,243 miles long, and its drainage basin is 258,000 square miles. Source: Wikipedia

The mighty Columbia originates in two lakes that lie between the Continental Divide and Selkirk mountain ranges in British Columbia. The river takes a convoluted path as it flows north for 200 or more miles, then it turns south and runs across the US/Canada border. Within the United States, the river courses southwest and skirts across one of the Columbia Plateau’s massive lava flows where it turns to the southeast and cuts a dramatic gorge in the earth’s layers to its junction with the westward flowing Snake River. After its confluence with the Snake, the Columbia runs virtually due west all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Columbia River Gorge near George, Washington

Columbia River Gorge near George, Washington

The Columbia has ten major tributaries: the Kootenay, Okanagan, Wenatchee, Spokane, Yakima, Snake, Deschutes, Willamette, Cowlitz, and Lewis rivers. The most important tributary, the Snake, flows for over 1,100 miles across a semi-arid plain and runs through the deepest gorge in North America, Hell’s Canyon — 7,900 feet deep. The Deschutes and Willamette rivers drain south of the Columbia, while the Yakima, Lewis, and Cowlitz rivers drain to the north. Continue reading

American River Cruising-Part 1

Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge: A natural wind tunnel cutting it’s way through the Cascade Mountains to deliver the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.  This was the final destination of the famous Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1806, the discovery of the Northwest Passage.  Traversing the mighty Columbia today is quite a different experience with its engineering marvels of locks and dams, but the adventure is still the same.  Rich in Native American culture, quaint port towns, breathtaking waterfalls and exquisite scenery make cruising this American river a very rewarding vacation in so many ways.

First, lets explore the beautiful small ships that make this amazing journey!  With maximum occupancy of 84-96 guests, these ships offer a much more intimate experience with up close proximity to the wonder of the Columbia River and it’s canyon.  With floor to ceiling windows for inside veiwing and ample outside deck space to enjoy the fresh breezes, your comfort is a  top priority.  The onboard Exploration Leaders are distinguished experts eager to share their passion and insight for the history and culture of the Columbia River Gorge and it’s people. Continue reading