1. Clarkston, Washington
Clarkston is our top pick because of its beautiful location and mild climate. And Clarkston, Washington has a twin city, Lewiston, Idaho, which lies across the Snake River.
Believe it or not, Clarkston was named after William Clark, of Lewis and Clark, and Lewiston was named after Meriwether Lewis, also of Lewis and Clark. Both cities lie close to the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. And Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in the continental United States.
Compared with our other ports, Clarkston is a veritable baby. It wasn’t incorporated until the 20th Century, 1902 to be exact. The port of Clarkston transports produce from farms, mostly grains, and lumber related products. Its inland location moves these commodities to the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, British Columbia.
As you pull into port, go out on deck and take a look at the gorgeous scenery as the river winds away from you. Do not miss this opportunity to venture forth – Clarkston/Lewiston offer many opportunities for getting to know the countryside by foot or by vehicle.
The First Territorial Capital Interpretive Center is a great place to begin an excursion. The Center is located the river in Lewiston, Idaho (named after Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark.) At the Center you will see a replica of the Idaho First Territorial Capitol Building, built to scale and using traditional construction methods. You will also have the opportunity to learn about the history of the area and its early inhabitants. The exhibit also contains artifacts and historical documents which provide an inkling of what life was like in the early settlements of the Snake River Valley.
If you really want to know this region, head for the Nez Perce National Historical Park. The Visitor Center will quickly acquaint you with the Nez Perce people and their customs through its exhibits and live demonstrations. The park contains story sites and many collections designed to help visitors understand the culture of the Nez Perce. You will also have the opportunity to observe the beauty of the regional flora and fauna. You may even come to understand the abiding love the Nez Perce have for their land.
If you visit Clarkston in the fall, you may have the opportunity to attend the Annual Foundation Fall Festival. Proceeds from the Festival go towards the Asotin County Library Foundation. Billed as a wine and beer tasting, it also includes silent auctions, live auctions, food and a quilt raffle.
Back across the river in Lewiston, sits the Lewis and Clark State College Center for Arts and History. The Center building began as a department store, was occupied as a bank for several years and finally became the Center for Arts and History in 1991. The Center has changing exhibits, so check the website to see what is happening during your visit. It also sponsors competitions and children’s camps. Check out “In the Vineyard” Plein Air Competition and Exhibit!
Spring, summer and fall cruises to Clarkston are all fabulous!
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So the next time you see those ads on TV for the European river cruises, remember, the US has plenty of ports of call and gorgeous rivers of its own. We’ve only touched on a few of the areas visited by cruise ships. There are many more in all regions of the country. And you don’t need a passport! Only a camera!