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The Mature Traveler

Rivers of Scenic Returns

August 13, 1995|HANK KOVELL

Travelers can set eyes on some of the same landscapes that Lewis and Clark saw while relaxing on two ships from Cruise West that ply the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Idaho. The Spirit of Columbia and the Spirit of '98 leave from Portland to Hells Canyon on Idaho's Snake River on a weeklong round-trip cruise.

The Spirit of Columbia, which carries 80 passengers, leaves each Saturday through Nov. 18. The Spirit of '98 (101 passengers) offers departures only in September and October.

The vessels traverse a series of locks and dams on the Columbia River and are lifted 738 feet between the mouth of the Columbia and Lewiston, Ida. Daily escorted shore tours include:

* Bonneville Dam to see the power plant, the salmon ladder and the internal workings of the dam.

* Maryhill Museum and Stonehenge, where visitors see a private art collection in a mansion perched high above the Columbia River. There are sculptures, a collection of chess sets and 19th-Century European oil paintings. The Stonehenge replica is fashioned after the original in England.

* Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America, to take a jet boat ride into it. A river-side stop includes a barbecue.

* Ft. Walla Walla and the Whitman Mission, site of a massacre by Native Americans in 1847.

* Washington's wine country in the Yakima Valley to see vineyards, taste wine and take a tour of the Columbia Crest winery.

* Hood River, where windsurfers race, plus a 22-mile ride on the Mt. Hood Scenic Railroad, built in 1906. Stops are made at apple and pear orchards, and Parkdale for a picnic lunch and a museum tour.

* Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River to visit Ft. Clatsop National Historic Park, where Lewis and Clark wintered at the end of their journey west in 1805.

Price for cruises aboard the Spirit of Columbia vary with cabin and time of year. They begin at $1,395 per person, double occupancy, including all meals and shore excursions. Prices for the Spirit of '98 begin at $1,595 per person.

Cruise West also offers trips to Canada's Inside Passage along the waterways of British Columbia's coast, Sacramento River cruises originating in San Francisco, and tours ranging from four to 16 nights along the coast of Alaska via combinations of air, rail, motor coach and yacht.

For descriptions of vessels and departure dates, contact a travel agent or write to Cruise West, Dept. MT, Fourth and Battery Building, Suite 700, Seattle, WA 98121; telephone (206) 441-8687.

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