The infamous Columbia bar, nicknamed “the graveyard of the Pacific”
…was the ultimate destination of two pivotal and epic expeditions in American history. Based at the mouth of the great Columbia River, Astoria has served as a port of entry for over a century and remains the major trading center for the lower Columbia basin. Call Our Team to Book!
In 1804 the Lewis and Clark “Corps of Discovery” set out to discover a northwest passage and chart lands previously known only to native peoples. Only a few years later in 1810, John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company sent the Astor Expedition on a perilous journey across the country to establish Fort Astoria as its primary fur-trading post in the Northwest, making Astoria the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific coast! Nowadays Astoria’s many museums, bridges, lighthouses, historic forts and growing art scene are all major regional attractions.
On our way into Astoria we will visit the Astoria Column; a tower 125 feet (38 m) high built atop the hill above the town. The column’s circular staircase allows visitors to get a panoramic view of the town, the surrounding lands, and the massive Columbia River flowing into the Pacific. The Astor family built the column in 1926 to commemorate the region’s early history. While the optional climb to the top may leave your legs burning, the view is absolutely worth it!
Next we will visit the Fort Clatsop national monument. Here you can explore of a replica of the fort where in 1805–1806 the Lewis and Clark Expedition endured a torturous winter of rain and cold before heading east after two long years in a foreign land. During the 106 days the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered at Fort Clatsop it rained all but 12 and only 6 days were sunny. As we follow in the footsteps of these great explorers, your guide will bring the landscape alive by telling the stories of brave men and women who paved the way for future pioneers.
Now we head south along the Pacific coast where amazing views abound and where both beaches and surrounding bluffs capture the verve, energy and power of the mighty Pacific surf breaking. Upon arriving in Cannon Beach we encounter the quintessential Oregon Coast experience: with sea-splitting headlands and miles of beaches, this town of 1,600 residents is a blend of incredible scenic beauty, wildlife, upscale inns, funky lodges, fine seafood restaurants, chowder houses, and art galleries galore. Founded in the 1890s but re-named in 1922 when locals came across a cannon that had washed ashore following the 1846 shipwreck of the U.S. Navy schooner Shark.
After a walk through town peeking into art galleries, surf shops and taffy stores, we head towards the beach. Here, in addition to the sea lions frolicking in the surf, your naturalist guide will bring the beach alive on an informative intertidal beach walk through this sensitive habitat and the point out all the little critters that call it home. The towering 235-foot-tall Haystack Rock is a great place to spot for cormorants, tufted puffins, and other shorebirds. Look further out to sea and you will see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, which has been clinging to its unlikely perch since 1880.
Before we begin the scenic drive back to Portland, we make a final stop at the secret Ecola State Park for coastal rain forest interpretive walk, panoramic views, and a short hike down to a small secluded beach where we will enjoy a glass of local Oregon wine. Keep an eye out for elk, peregrine falcons, bald eagles and other sea birds. If you are lucky and come in the spring we will have the chance to spot for gray whales as they cruise by on their way back up to Alaska!