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Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler — Cruises & Experiences

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler Cruises

Operating in Cascade Locks, Oregon May - October
299 NW Portage Rd, Cascade Locks, OR 97014

May through October, this authentic sternwheeler takes visitors on a relaxing scenic cruise on the Columbia River. Sights may include the Bridge of the Gods, Native American Fishing Platforms, Wind Mountain and more. You can take a sightseeing, brunch or dinner cruise and experience the Columbia River Gorge from a unique perspective.

The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler is wheelchair accessible — please request with your reservation.

Cruise Route Image Gallery

We offer discounts for groups of 10 or more. For short term booking, please call to confirm availability and times. Availability subject to change due to seasonality and demand. Prices for all cruises are subject to change. Displayed prices do not include any applicable taxes or fees.

Trip Planning Resources

Stopping by Multnomah Falls or the Historic Columbia River Highway before visiting Cascade Locks? Timed-accessed permits will be required between May 24 - September 5, 2022.

Visit ColumbiaGorgeToMtHood.com to help plan your trip to the Columbia Gorge. Full of local attractions and landmarks they have everything you need to help you get the most of your Columbia Gorge experience.

Columbia Gorge To Mt Hood

Getting to Cascade Locks car free Car-free Itinerary

Vessel History and Information

The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler heading west Experience the history of the Columbia River Gorge and learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition on a cruise aboard the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler. We board from Marine Park at Cascade Locks, in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Enjoy riverboat cruises on our authentic triple-deck paddle wheeler, providing 360 degrees of breathtaking vistas. See Native American tribal members fish from their dedicated platforms as they have for centuries. The Sternwheeler’s historic-looking interior and exterior along with its historic setting in the scenic Columbia Gorge makes it a wonderful experience for tourists and history enthusiasts. It has seating for 232 passengers for plated meals, an onboard galley, two full-service bars and is licensed to carry up to 599 people.

The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler was built in Hood River, Oregon by Nichols Boat Works and was launched in 1983. On April 19, 2006, the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler became the first and only paddle-boat leased by American Waterways, Inc.


Length 119.9 feet
Draft 5 feet
Gross weight 92 tons
Cruising Speed 9 knots
Engines (2) Cummins Diesel Electric

History of Cascade Locks & Sternwheelers

The history of Cascade Locks is intimately tied to the Columbia River. The small settlement that grew up on the banks of the river helped early travelers portage around the rapids, first by foot, then by mule-drawn rail cars, steam engines and finally riverboats.

In 1803, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to learn and report about western geography, climate, plants and the indigenous people encountered on their journey to find the great waterway to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery portaged around the rapids of the Cascades in 1805. They wrote in their journal, “this great chute of falls is about 1/2 a mile with the water of this great river compressed within the space of 150 paces … great number of both large and small rocks, water passing with great velocity forming & boiling in a horrible manner, with a fall of about 20 feet” (October 30- November 1, 1805).

An early Sternwheeler heading east

Forty years later, pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail’s water route were forced to make the same portage around the dangerous rapids. Travelers heading west had to make a crucial decision just upstream of these rapids at The Dalles, Oregon. They had to choose whether they would risk life and limb on Mt. Hood’s steep Barlow Road, and overland toll route, or build a raft and float down the Columbia River, risking their life free of charge.

Cascade Locks in 1913

The little Oregon Pony, the first steam engine west of the Mississippi River, carried passengers and freight past the rapids in 1864. Today, the engine can be viewed in Marine Park.

In 1896, the navigational canal and locks at the site of the rapids were completed and modern-day Cascade Locks was born.

Cascade Locks in 1933

The locks allowed safer navigation of the river, and riverboat whistles echoed in the Gorge each day as the boats made their runs from Portland and The Dalles. Passengers still disembarked at Cascade Locks for portage around the rapids until 1938, when Bonneville Dam succeeded in completely taming the rapids.

Eventually, passengers and freight were drawn to more modern forms of transportation; roads and railroads displaced the sternwheelers. Although the romantic days of the sternwheelers are now passed, you can experience a taste of history aboard the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, an authentic replica of a triple-decker paddle wheeler in size and construction.

Information and images acquired from portofcascadelocks.org.

Local Activities

Relax and picnic in Marine Park and Thunder Island. Travel the famous Bridge of the Gods between Cascade Locks, Oregon and Stevenson, Washington. RV accommodations and a marina available. The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler and Marine Park are available for all occasions.

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler Image Gallery

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