The Dalles, Oregon
The Dalles, located about 75 miles east of Portland, was established in the 1850s as a transfer point between the western end of the Oregon Trail and the Columbia River. Today, the small city of 14,000 is a popular stop for river cruises along the Columbia and Snake rivers.
What We Love
Artistic Endeavors: Just upriver, the Maryhill Museum of Art sits in splendid isolation above the Columbia River Valley. The impressive collection includes American and European art with an entire gallery devoted to Auguste Rodin. Other exhibits are dedicated to Native American art, and the museum also houses an eclectic European collection donated by Queen Marie of Romania.
The Dalles Dam: Built in 1957, The Dalles Dam complex includes locks to allow ships and barges to pass, while a fish ladder aids salmon coming in from the Pacific to reach spawning grounds upstream. Head to the observation room where windows give an underwater vista of the salmon running.
Best Known For
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum: This museum covers the long history of the area, starting with the ice age mammals such as the Columbian mammoth that once lived here. There are also exhibits on local Native American life as well the fur trappers, settlers, missionaries, and cavalry who passed through here. A highlight is the interactive exhibit covering the journey of Lewis and Clark, including recreations of the expedition's camps and supplies.
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Who It's Best For
Those Who Like to Learn: Trips from The Dalles are all about getting a better sense of the history of the area, and the intrepid explorers that came here when it was a great unknown.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Everybody on the Bus: All the excursions from The Dalles port involve bus rides, which are mercifully short and scenic.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.