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Autumn Adventures in the Pacific Northwest
With wild hillsides ablaze in golds and reds, autumn in the Pacific Northwest is a sight to behold. This closer-to-home destination offers geologically diverse landscapes and fascinating history. Sail in the wake of Lewis and Clark or explore remote channels teeming with sea life. Visit picturesque coastal towns. Hike meadows and lush forest trails. Along the way, our culinary program brings you the bounty of the region using some of the freshest local ingredients.
Hike island forest trails in search of wildlife, kayak verdant shorelines, and bike the waterfront of a scenic city—or cruise by Zodiac and visit a mixture of quaint and world-class museums. Options abound for indulging your interests in the Pacific Northwest. Hear the legends and learn the traditions of Native Americans and First Nations through their art or moving performances. Taste the bounty of the region. Dine on salmon straight from local waters, foraged wild mushrooms picked within 50 miles, and provisions delivered directly from farmers along our route.
Relax and settle in to life aboard as you cruise the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Your expedition ship offers the absolute best way to access all the sites, culture, and history along the river—without ever having to change hotels or wheel luggage around. We add to that the luxury of comfort with a quality of shipboard life and a philosophy of wellness designed to relax and rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit as you cruise the Pacific Northwest.
Expedition Dining—Then & Now
The Pacific Northwest is known for its incredible bounty and some of the freshest ingredients around. You can look forward to meals that celebrate the region’s world-famous flavors, like a vibrantly pink coho salmon filet, bright green coils of fiddlehead ferns, and a bottle of terroir-rich pinot noir.
See, do, and learn more by going with engaging experts who have been exploring this region for decades.
Veteran expedition leaders are the orchestrators of your experience. Many have advanced degrees and have conducted research or taught for years. They have achieved expedition leader status because they possess the skills, the experience, and the depth of knowledge necessary to continually craft the best expedition possible for our guests.
Our naturalists, passionate about the geographies they explore (and return to regularly), illuminate each facet through their enthusiasm and knowledge. Our guests consistently cite the expertise and engaging company of our staff as key reasons to repeatedly travel with us.
Every expedition aboard a ship in our National Geographic-flagged fleet offers an exclusive service—a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor. This naturalist is specially trained to offer assistance with camera settings and the basics of composition and to help you become a better, more confident photographer.
On the Columbia River, enjoy the company and perspective of a historian who can quote extensively from the journals of Lewis and Clark. And on expeditions that sail along the coast, go with a cultural interpreter or an anthropologist who has lived among the Coast Salish peoples of the San Juan Islands.
Video chroniclers accompany every expedition and shoot vivid HD footage—with no recycled footage ever—to provide you with a professionally edited and completely authentic memento of your expedition. Working during the day and editing into the night, they have your video ready for preview prior to—and available to purchase at—disembarkation.
Our wellness program embodies the belief that nature is vitalizing and that wildness, as Thoreau famously said, supplies a tonic. Wellness Specialists are fully accredited and experienced licensed massage therapists and are aboard every ship in the National Geographic-flagged fleet. They lead morning stretch class on the deck, aerobic walks ashore, kayak outings, and more.
Doesn't get better, a brilliant staff.
Making a Difference
Lindblad Expeditions supports stewardship efforts in the places we explore, and one way we do that is through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund. Traveler contributions to the LEX-NG Fund in the Pacific Northwest currently support the National Geographic Society’s Early Career Grants, which promote future leaders with novel and exploratory projects that span the fields of conservation, education, research, storytelling, and technology.
Meandering up the Snake River opened a new chapter to our voyage. Golden grasslands interrupted by towering basalt columns filled the horizon. As daybreak crested, the peaks before us were illuminated in a soft golden hue. The landscape drew us in and beckoned us to explore. After a short and scenic bus ride, we arrived at Palouse Falls State Park. While the impressive 198 ft waterfall was clearly the main attraction, walks in the area provided stunning views of the channeled scablands that we’re traveling through. It was incredible to imagine the events that sculpted the land before us. The raw power of the Earth was on full display. For the afternoon, we set out in expedition landing craft and shot up the Palouse River. The rich riparian banks held an abundance of wildlife. Songbirds flitted about while waterfowl gave way. Raptors circled overhead, looking for their next meal. Above a set of steep cliffs, two golden eagles circled, icons of this open land. Perhaps the most exciting moment was when a coyote ran up the slopes right in front of us, posing to take in the odd creatures visiting its home. The river and its tributaries continue to offer a vast variety of experiences to us. As the final day of our voyage approaches, we settle into the night in awe of what we have seen thus far.
National Geographic Sea Bird awoke to exceptional views of Crow Butte and the Columbia River. Guests began their day with walks ashore among the big sagebrush and Russian thistle while wandering along the rolling hills of the island. While cruising along the river inland, it has been incredible to witness the drastic changes in scenery: from the bustling city of Portland, Oregon to the secluded areas of eastern Washington. Ashore, on-board historian and geologists discussed the highlights of the area, and visitors enjoyed refreshments prior to lunch. After lunch, National Geographic Sea Bird cruised through the McNary Lock and Dam toward the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Without a doubt, everyone on board is looking forward to what tomorrow’s expedition brings.
It’s hard to imagine that a mere few days ago, we were at the spot where the temperate rainforest meets the Pacific Ocean. A voyage upstream contains rapid changes in ecology, climate, and history. After a gentle night at anchor, we awoke to the sun’s rays sneaking through the clouds and hilltops. We spent the morning at beautiful Crow Butte Park. This small island, connected to the mainland before the damming of the Columbia River, offered us a chance to stretch our legs and explore the sagebrush steppe biome. Iconic plants such as balsamroot and sagebrush cover the ground, none climbing to more than a few feet in height. By trail, we obtained commanding views as we took in the vast, open area of the region. Cruising upriver for the afternoon, the beauty of the landscape rolled by. Jetting up locks at the McNary Dam brought us closer to Wallula Gap, an anticipated highlight in the region. Imagining the Ice Age floods screaming downstream from Lake Lewis at fifty miles per hour is humbling and illustrative of how the channeled scablands were formed. From here, we depart the mighty Columbia and turn towards the next part of our voyage: the Snake River. With increasingly pleasant weather day by day and anticipation in every breath, we settle in for the night to see what tomorrow brings.
National Geographic Sea Bird started its morning by traveling through the Columbia River, heading east, and was met by the sun shining on the hills. The day’s activities began with walks – both a long and a short option – along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Guests were greeted with wonderful views of the river while they wandered through tunnels that were carved to create what was once the most expensive road constructed. Prior to the walk, guests stopped to take photographs and take in the views along Rowena Crest, a wonderful scenic outlook along the river. After a break for lunch, guests had the opportunity to visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and were treated to a presentation about raptors. Guests even got to meet a rehabilitated hawk, a 15-year-old red-tailed hawk named “Killer.” In the evening, guests were treated to sangria on the bow while passing through the Dalles Dam lock, followed by wonderful recapitulations by the field staff.
We had a wet but exciting morning on National Geographic Quest . Stretch class was drippy, but Robin found ways to make us gently pull on muscles and tendons while sitting down on chairs. In the dim morning light, we could see channel markers light up in whites and reds as we cruised past. After more cruising and briefings, we set off for Crag Rat’s for a catered lunch. This building is home to the brave search and rescue team that serves Mt. Hood. Reading about their history was inspiring. We moved on to the Draper Girls’ produce stand within the “Fruit Loop” of the gorge. It’s apple and pear season now. The stand amazed us with the variety of jams and jellies offered. Their goats, colorful pumpkins, and blooming dahlias welcomed us with gusto. Next, we were off to the impressive WAAAM Museum (Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum) with over a hundred working antique vehicles and planes. To finish our activities, we stopped at Multnomah Falls for a quick walk in the light rain. This waterfall is the highest continuous waterfall in Oregon with a picturesque bridge. Tonight, our historian will guide us through the Lewis and Clark historical expedition as we sit warm and cozy in our lounge.
Exploring the Pacific Northwest reveals great natural beauty, and yet it features modern incredible feats of human engineering—an imposing system of locks and large-span bridges. To explore it by ship offers a chance to marvel at both.