Carved more than 15,000 years ago by cataclysmic glaciers and floods, the Columbia River Gorge cleanly divides the states of Oregon and Washington. Between the dramatic waterfalls and vertical mountain walls, this national scenic area is one of the great outdoor treasures of the Pacific Northwest. Admiring these lush landscapes, as well as enjoying the abundance of over-water experiences that await, make this one of the best boating opportunities on the entire West Coast. From the comfortable starting point of downtown Portland, this intimate experience on the water discovering the beauty and charm of the Columbia River Gorge makes for the perfect day trip with family or friends.
Jeanneau Leader 8.5
Cruising in Oregon brings on a very different challenge than many places, but it’s well worth it considering the pristine beauty and ample opportunity for all kinds of boating. Although the state’s climate tends to be a little sunnier and warmer than its neighbors to the north, there can be particularly strong winds due to the cut of sandstone that acts as huge wind tunnels. Considering the unique challenges and environments of Oregon, the Jeanneau Leader 8.5 stands out as the boat of choice for the scenic cruise from downtown Portland up the Columbia River Gorge. Sporty with a family-friendly attitude, the Leader 8.5 combines an attractive design, luxurious comfort and excellent performance for the perfect companion on a day trip. Perfectly suited for coastal cruising and taking in the breathtaking landscapes of the Columbia River Gorge, you’ll also be doing so in style thanks to the dynamically fluid design that exudes elegance and innocence.
Downtown Portland to Government Island
Located just minutes away from downtown Portland and the city airport, the M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp provides a convenient public launch onto the Columbia River. Once you’re set and ready to cruise, set sail for your first stop, Government Island. Accessible only by boat, this famous destination is actually a string of five islands, all best enjoyed the way Lewis and Clark did when they first stopped here in 1805, as a boater’s picnic spot. There are two docks and a floating tie-up on the north side of the main island. With 15 miles of shoreline, this park is also popular with anglers, hikers, windsurfers and campers. Head to the south side of the island and you’ll see boats mooring for picnic spots and E-Z Ups set up on the waterfront. If you’ve brought toys and tenders, Government Island is the perfect place for water tubing and skiing, or you can simply enjoy the free show.
Lunch on the River
After a morning spent enjoying some over-water fun, head west for some of the best dining option along the Columbia River Gorge. Gently resting among the sailboats and floating homes of McCuddy’s Marina on Hayden Island, Island Cafe is the perfect place to enjoy a laid-back lunch with beautiful on-the-water scenery. Choose from a delicious menu that offers everything from classic sandwiches and healthy salads to fresh seafood selections, complemented nicely with a glass of wine or cocktail. For those looking for the gourmet experience, look no further than the nearby 3 Sheets. Featuring an intimate atmosphere, lovely décor and attentive service, this is the place to be pampered with a high-quality meal and expertly-mixed drinks. On the other side in Vancouver Landing, Washington, Twigs is the waterfront bistro immersed in the beautiful sights and sounds of the bustling river park. This establishment offers wonderful indoor and outdoor seating with an elegant menu of eats, signature cocktails and local craft beer. Elsewhere, Wildfin on Vancouver Landing is another American classic that offers an outstanding menu of freshly-caught northwestern seafood and meat entrees in a casual yet stylish setting.
Cruising Along the River
After you’ve finished, it’s time to head up the river about 35 miles to Beacon Rock State Park, which should be around a 45-minute journey. When it comes to performance, the Jeanneau Leader 8.5 comes either single 350hp or twin 225cw engined and it will blow you away with its stability and power that’s well-suited for the Columbia River Gorge. Not only is the hull extremely pleasing on the eye, but its also V-shaped and tapered to ensure excellent seakeeping and exceptionally secure handling that’s ideal for family cruising.
Beacon Rock State Park
Centered around the core of an ancient volcano and prominent outdoor area, Beacon Rock State Park offers everything from hiking and mountain biking to horse riding to satisfy all your adrenaline needs. The dizzying mile-long switchback trail takes you up 848-foot Beacon Rock for a wonderful birds-eye view of the landscapes below. That’s not the only vantage point to enjoy, however, as breathtaking views are common here and often overlook their own section of the Columbia River Gorge. Throughout the park, there is the opportunity to observe the unique wildlife native to the Pacific Northwest, as well as quaint spots for picnics, camping and river access. When you’ve finished exploring Beacon Rock State Park, head back to the Leader 8.5 and get ready for your final destination.
Elsewhere, the Jeanneau Leader 8.5 is also equipped with 2 separate saloons, sunbathing platform, 2 births and 3-person leaning post for the ultimate comfort onboard. This means that you can kick back and relax, while you take in the unspoiled natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, and share precious moments with family or friends. The well-designed layout and thoughtful spacial organization will delight those who appreciate full comfort, without sacrificing any performance. To top it off, the uncluttered cockpit, convenient storage options and sumptuous seating make for a wonderful afternoon on the water.
One of the largest New Deal projects of the Depression era, Bonneville Dam was the first major dam on the Columbia River. Surrounded by the scenic sights and lush vegetation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains Bonneville Lock and Dam for hydropower production, fish and wildlife protection, recreation and navigation. Here you can experience firsthand the operation of two hydroelectric powerhouses and watch migrating fish traveling upstream at the underwater viewing rooms next to the fish ladders.