The Columbia River winds 1,232 miles from its source at Columbia Lake in southeastern British Columbia, around east-central Washington State and then west/northwest to where it enters the Pacific near Astoria, Oregon. It is the second largest river in the United States (exceeded in volume only by the Mississippi), and the largest river flowing into the Pacific in the western hemisphere. Oregonians are fortunate to have this majestic waterway as a northern border for the last 300 miles of its journey to the Pacific. As the Columbia once led the Corps of Discovery to the sea, it now leads tens of thousands of boaters to chinook salmon, inspiring vistas and hours of fun.
The Columbia has many different personalities in its course through Oregon. From just east of Umatilla to The Dalles, it flows through high desert badlands, an unexpected burst of blue against the dun-colored canyons. Further west the high desert gives way to the lush greenery and grand rock formations of the Columbia River Gorge. After rolling past the busy industrial ports of Portland and Vancouver, the mighty Columbia gears up for its final flow to the ocean. Some boaters spend most of their time near the mouth in quest of silver-fresh salmon; others may follow the fish as they move upstream, to Bonneville and beyond. Others may not fish at all, instead choosing to zip along above the waves on a kite-board—or slowly cruise along with the flow on a catamaran.
Courtesy of “Boating in Oregon” by Oregon State Marine Board
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