The Clearwater and Snake River Valleys merge to form a powerful union at the confluence of the rivers with the Snake River separating Clarkston, Washington on one side and Lewiston, Idaho on the other. In spring, the rivers are powerfully rushing downstream, draining water from winter snows and spring storms.
Guest began their voyage down the Snake and Columbia Rivers by visiting Hells Canyon. After breakfast, they jumped into powerful, 22-foot jet boats, thundering up the river over 50 miles deep into Hells Canyon. The canyons showed off their wonderfully twisted basalt flows from over 15 million years ago, towering several thousand feet above the river, a river teeming with wildlife. We saw white pelicans, bald and golden eagles, peregrine falcons, ospreys, bufflehead and merganser ducks, Canadian geese, blackbirds, ravens, and tree swallows. Bighorn sheep majestically occupied the high cliffs along the steep canyon walls.
The boats brought us to Garden Creek Ranch for a homecooked lunch of pork and beans. Garden Creek Ranch is perched along the Idaho side and dotted with fruit trees and rustic cabins. After lunch, the boats roared upstream past the Salmon River confluence and Imnaha River, before returning and stopping at Cash Creek for a short visit to admire the intersection of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
Returning to the ship, guests enjoyed riveting talks by Nez Perce storyteller JR Spenser and local wine producer and owner Coco Umiker from Clearwater Canyon Cellars. Following these wonderful stories, guests dined and drank local wine as National Geographic Sea Lion pulled anchor and set off downriver on its journey into Lewis and Clark country.