Columbia River

The Columbia River begins far north in British Columbia and winds for over 1,200 miles (1931 km) until it reaches the Pacific Ocean near Astoria. It is the largest river in Oregon and the second largest in the United States after the Mississippi River. The river widens substantially as it reaches the Pacific Coast, developing in places into a rich estuary as wide as five miles (8 km) across near its mouth. For thousands of years, the Columbia River and its tributaries have played a central role to the human settlement and development of Oregon. Today, the river provides transportation, irrigation and energy sources for people living in both Oregon and Washington State. What’s more, the meandering waterway is habitat for countless species of plants and animals and plays a central role in the larger biosphere of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Discovery of the Hidden River

    Category: General Article

    The story of how an American sea captain discovered the fourth largest river in North America by following the trail of muddy water.

  • The Columbia River Bar

    Category: General Article

    There’s no greater (or treacherous) a bar on the Oregon Coast than at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River. Learn why this area is called "The Graveyard of the Pacific."

  • Columbia River Gorge

    Category: General Article

    This 80-mile stretch of canyon marks the border between Oregon and Washington state.

  • Cataclysm! Floods That Swallowed the Land

    Category: General Article

    In prehistoric times, monster floods drowned the Pacific Northwest no less than forty times!

  • Time Traveling Through The Columbia River Gorge

    Category: General Article

    Studying different types and strata of rock is key to geology – and the Columbia River Gorge is a perfect spot for this activity!

  • Going, Going, Gone... The Missing Animals of the Columbia River Gorge

    Category: General Article

    The Columbia River Gorge has seen plenty of species come and go over the millennia. Here is a short list of species you WON'T see when you visit there today.

  • Lewis and Clark Expedition

    Category: Science Tool

    This legendary overland expedition not only lead to the discovery of new places and species, but helped pave the way for American expansion across the continent to the Pacific Ocean.

  • Lifesaving Services on the Oregon Coast

    Category: General Article

    The combination of current, stormy weather and geography has made the Oregon Coast one of the most hazardous places of shipping in North America. Learn how fearless men and women have battled the elements to save lives through the Lifesaving Service and modern US Coast Guard.

  • The Oregon Coast Trail

    Category: Exploring Nature Item

    This trail is a 387-mile long hiking route, stretching from the California state line to the Columbia River. Most of the trail utilizes the same travel corridor historically used by Oregonians – the beaches!

  • Cape Disappointment State Park

    Category: General Article

    Part of the Washington State Parks system, Cape Disappointment State Park covers 1,800+ acres which include camping facilities, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and two historic lighthouses.

  • Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment

    Category: General Article

    This museum, located at Cape Disappointment, interprets the 1803-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition, a journey of scientific discovery which helped the United States establish its claim to the Pacific Northwest.

  • Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

    Category: General Article

    Established to help protect lives along the Columbia River bar, the Cape Disappointment light is an example of early lifesaving services in the Pacific Northwest.

  • North Head Lighthouse

    Category: General Article

    For decades, this historic lighthouse was the primary navigational tool for vessels attempting to cross the Columbia River bar.

  • Eating My Way Through the Fruit Loop

    Category: General Article

    The Hood River County Fruit Loop is just one of many driving tours in Oregon that help promote and educate about sustainable agriculture.

  • Endangered Oregon: Hope for an Ancient Fish

    Category: General Article

    Often considered a "trash fish" in the Pacific Northwest, Native American tribes and their partners are working to change the ill-deserved reputation of the Pacific lamprey.