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Pacific Northwest and the Columbia River Cruise

Bonneville Dam Columbia River Columbia River Portland Astoria Deck Plan The Dalles

Travel the storied pioneer route from Chicago to Vancouver, Washington by train for a Pacific Northwest adventure that continues through Oregon and Washington, following the Columbia and Snake Rivers aboard the American Empress steamboat.

11 days    $3,750

About the Tour

Embark on a rail and river cruise adventure following the path taken by explorers Lewis and Clark in 1805. Beginning in Chicago, board Amtrak's Empire Builder train for the storied 2-night journey across the northern prairies into Big Sky Country, ending in Vancouver, Washington. Explore Vancouver and nearby Portland during a short city stay before boarding the American Empress, your floating boutique hotel for the journey into the heart of Washington's wine country. our a millionaire's Victorian home in Astoria, Oregon and marvel at the engineering achievement of the Bonneville Dam. Whether you choose to take in the scenery from Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge nestled among the pines or climb a lighthouse to view the expansive Pacific, a voyage on the Columbia and Snake Rivers will show you the world from a new perspective.


  • Transportation aboard Amtrak (2 nights on train)
  • Hotel accommodations for 1 night
  • All meals aboard the ship
  • 7-night river cruise aboard the American Empress
  • Complimentary wine and beer with dinner and complimentary cappuccino, espresso, specialty coffees, bottled water and soft drinks throughout the river cruise
  • Ports of call:
    - Astoria, OR
    - The Dalles, OR
    - Stevenson, WA
    - Tri-Cities (Richland), WA
    - Clarkston, WA
View Dates & Pricing

Call to Book 1-877-929-7245


  • Day 1 - Empire Builder to Vancouver, WA

    Arrive at Chicago’s historic Union Station and board the famed Empire Builder in preparation of your afternoon departure northwest, following a storied pioneer trail. As the train makes its way into Wisconsin and across the Mississippi River into Minnesota, take time to get acquainted with the Empire Builder’s many features including the glass walled Sightseer Lounge, offering fantastic views of the scenery through which you’re traveling. Overnight train. (D Sleeping Car passengers only)

  • Day 2 - Aboard the Empire Builder

    When you awake this morning, the Empire Builder is making its way across the prairies of North Dakota, traveling into Big Sky Country. Around dinner time today, the train passes by Glacier National Park, one of the country’s best loved national parks and a high point along this rail route. Overnight train. (B, L, D Sleeping Car passengers only)

  • Day 3 – Arrive in Vancouver, WA

    Early this morning, the Empire Builder passes into Washington and continues southwest to the city of Vancouver, located on the banks of the Columbia River. Transfer on your own to your hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. Nestled between Mount St. Helens, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Pacific Coast, Vancouver, WA boasts an array of activities, scenic landscapes, and historic attractions to entice any traveler. Or, you may choose to take a taxi to the nearby city of Portland, OR, just on the other side of the river. Overnight Vancouver, WA. (B Sleeping Car passengers only)

    his morning, the Empire Builder passes into Washington and continues southwest to Portland, Oregon. You’re scheduled to arrive in Portland at 10:10 am. Transfer on your own to your hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. You may wish to stroll through one of Portland’s beautiful parks- there are more than 200- or visit the International Rose Tests Garden to see thousands of spectacular blooms. Shop for souvenirs-tax free, no less- or enjoy a bite to eat at one of the city’s restaurants and enjoy the relaxing, laid back feel of this vibrant city. Overnight Vancouver, WA. (B Sleeping Car passengers only)

  • Day 4 - Board the American Empress

    Take the morning to explore Portland's coffee shops, parks and museums. This afternoon, board the American Empress and prepare to depart Portland for your Pacific Northwest river cruise along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Overnight vessel. (B, D)

  • Day 5 - Astoria, OR

    Your first port of call is Astoria. Explore this historic pioneer city situated near the mouth of the Columbia River on a Hop-on/hop-off sightseeing tour. Begin with a stop at the Riverwalk, a 4-mile paved walkway overlooking the beautiful Columbia River offering remarkable views. Next, stop at the Flavel House and Carriage House Museum. The Flavel House is a perfectly preserved example of Queen Anne architecture and was once the home of Captain George Flavel, one of Astoria's most influential citizens in the late 1800s. Guests can tour this 11,000 square foot elegant mansion as well as the detached Carriage House Museum and Visitor's Center. If you are seeking the perfect vantage point to view the majestic valley and the mouth of the Columbia River, the next stop will end your search. The peak of the Astoria Column sits 600 feet above sea level and boasts an incredible 365-degree view. Guests who are up to the challenge can climb the 164-step spiral staircase to the top of this spire for a majestic observation point, or remain on the ground to examine the ornate murals depicting 14 significant events from Oregon's history. The last stop on your tour is the Heritage Museum, showcasing the history and culture of Oregon through their exhibit galleries that beautifully capsulate the exciting history and culture of Oregon and the Columbia River. Located within Astoria's Old City Hall building, this neoclassical structure pays tribute to the hunters, loggers, and fishermen that forged this new territory and depicted the history of this frontier town. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)

  • Day 6 - The Dalles, OR

    Welcome to The Dalles, Oregon, known as the end of the Oregon Trail! Upon arrival, set off to experience everything that The Dalles has to offer on a Hop-on/hop-off tour. The first stop is the Original Courthouse Museum. This historic building was built in 1859 and is known as the first courthouse of the Rocky Mountains. Next, stop at the Fort Dalles Museum and Interpretive Center, an original military base built in the 1800's. See unique collections of military and pioneer artifacts as well as the historic wagons that brought early settlers to the Oregon Trail's last stop. Before exploring the shops of the Downtown Shopping area, you may wish to stop at the Sunshine Mills Winery, originally a 130-year-old abandoned wheat mill and now a state-of-the-art Quenett boutique winery and home of Copa Di Vino, a unique invention by entrepreneur and wine enthusiast, James Martin. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)

  • Day 7 - Stevenson, WA

    Today finds us in Stevenson, where a Hop-on/hop-off tour of the city provides an excellent overview. Begin in Downtown Stevenson to enjoy the various local specialty shops and boutiques. Then, we'll stop at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center. Located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, the Interpretive Center shares the local story of the geography and culture of the region. Finally, experience an incredible man-made engineering feat at the Bonneville Dam. Completed in 1938, the Dam is an electrical power generator for the local area using Hydropower. Learn about its progression and improvements over time, the exhausting build project that encountered numerous obstacles due to the unique geology of the area and the unique way the dam assists spawning salmon pass through the dam on a self-guided tour. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)

  • Day 8 – Scenic River Cruise

    Behold the beauty of nature as you enjoy a day of scenic river cruising. Picturesque canyon walls and fascinating volcanic formations will keep you guessing as to what lies around the next bend. As you wind through the dramatic mountains and forested ridges of the great Pacific Northwest, join our Riverlorian on-deck for insightful and entertaining narration. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)

  • Day 9– Tri-Cities (Richland), WA.

    Home to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's first national monument, Richland is a city dedicated to preserving its unique history, culture and landscape. During our day in port, you can embark on two included tours: Sacajawea State Park and Franklin County Historical Society and Museum. The Sacajawea State Park marks a significant point in American History. Guests can explore the Interpretive Center on the Park grounds which feature the history of Lewis and Clark. The on-site exhibits and a knowledgeable presentation at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm will highlight the history on this site and focuses on the Core of Discovery's voyage from modern-day Illinois to these grounds with the helpful guidance of their Native American interpreter, Sacajawea.

    The Franklin County Historical Society and Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the country’s past. The Museum was originally constructed in 1910 as part of Andrew Carnegie’s comprehensive library construction program. The high ceilings and dark wood trim create an authentic period atmosphere for this collection of historic artifacts and information. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)

  • Day 10 - Clarkston, WA

    A full day of sightseeing awaits when we dock in Clarkston. This morning, experience the history and culture of the Nez Perce people as we travel to the Nez Perce National Historical Park. Learn about the historic and present-day way of life of these Native American's whose name is derived from the French “Pierced Nose.” The Nez Perce people are well known for their involvement and assistance with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and guests can learn first-hand how they were trusted by the Corps of Discovery through an exclusive presentation by the staff of Nez Perce National Historical Park.

    This afternoon, travel to Clarkston's brother city, Lewiston, Idaho. Nestled in the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, this town was ironically never a stop on the Lewis and Clark trail, but both boast the early American explorers' names. Discover this historical town first settled in 1862. Guests can visit the Nez Perce County Historical Society and Museum that strives to preserve and interpret the history of the local region and culture. With rotating exhibits that chronicle the early history of the town and the surrounding area. After discovering the history of the town, guests can enjoy free time in the downtown region for shopping and independent exploring or hop on the trolley for a ride around town. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)

  • Day 11 - Disembark in Clarkston, WA

    Disembark the American Empress and make your way home from your authentic Pacific Northwest Experience. Transfers are available to Spokane Airport for an additional charge. (B)


Deluxe hotel accommodations will be provided in Vancouver, WA

Amtrak accommodations are available in Roomette and Bedroom. Roomette accommodations include a private cabin that features two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, which converts to an upper and lower berth at night. Bedroom accommodations feature a sofa and chair by day and upper and lower berth by night. Bedroom accommodations also include a sink and self-enclosed toilet and shower.

Accommodations onboard the American Empress range from Inside Cabins featuring single beds and bathroom with shower, Outside Staterooms with bay window or veranda, to Luxury Suites featuring a private veranda.

Hotel accommodations are based on availability; substitutes will be similar in quality and amenities.

Know before you go
Please be aware Amtrak may experience occasional schedule changes and service disruptions.  Vacations By Rail recommends visiting the Amtrak web site prior to your departure for the latest information.


It is your responsibility to check and fulfill the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.


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Prices are land-only, per person. Prices are correct at the time this web page is published; however, are subject to change. Port taxes are not included and will be confirmed at time of booking. Single outside cabin pricing is available. Please contact a rail specialist for details. Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.
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