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Pacific Northwest Trip: The Dammed Columbia with Brodie Cass Talbott & Candace Larson

On this exciting, 4-day van trip, we go beyond just birds and explore the natural and human history of the Columbia River, investigating its contentious role as a major supplier of “green energy” while also imperiling endangered fish and indigenous fishing grounds.

We’ll start our trip with a visit to the Wanapum Heritage Center to gain deeper historical context before visiting the nearby Priest Rapids Dam where we’ll search for grebes, loons, and waterfowl. November is a fascinating time to search for migrating waterbirds along the Columbia, and we’ll be watching for winter songbirds and raptors as well. We’ll spend our first night along the river in Richland. 

On our second day, we’ll journey up the Snake River, visiting Ice Harbor Dam, one of the lower Snake dams currently being considered for removal. Continuing downstream, we’ll visit the McNary National Wildlife Refuge and McNary Dam, where rare gulls are often found in fall migration. 

After a night in Umatilla, we’ll start our day with a visit to the wildlife-rich Cold Springs and Umatilla National Wildlife Refuges, before visiting John Day Dam, the construction of which spurred the creation of Umatilla NWR. 

On our last day, we’ll visit the two lower Columbia River dams, as we enter the Columbia River Gorge. In The Dalles, we’ll keep an eye out for Red-breasted Mergansers and Red-necked Grebes, as well as any returning Bald Eagles, which typically roost at the Dalles Dam in large numbers later in winter. Near Bonneville Dam we’ll end our trip with American Dippers and our first look at an undammed Columbia River, making it back to Portland around dusk.


Distance: Multiple short walks of less than 1 mile.
Elevation changes: Minimal.
Trail: A variety of trails, but mostly wide gravel, bark chip, or paved trails.
Pacing: Slow
Rest Stops: We will have multiple stops, including a lunch stop, each day.
Sun Exposure: Full sun exposure for most of the day.
Amenities: Regular restroom breaks throughout the day. Please note that some hotel rooms might be on the second story with no elevator. Please let your guide know if a first floor room would be preferred.
Public transit: Gateway Fred Meyer can be reached by Max or Tri-met


Explore the legacy and impacts of dams in the Pacific Northwest!

Join Brodie Cass Talbott and Candace Larson to explore the landscapes, history, and environmental impacts of the dams that define the Pacific Northwest, as well as the rich mosaic of National Wildlife Refuges that were established to mitigate those impacts.


Trip Details

  • Trip Leaders: Brodie Cass Talbott and Candace Larson
  • Fee: $945 members / $1045 non-members
  • Single Supplement Rooming Fee: TBD
  • When: November 9-12, 2023
  • Group size: Limited to 14 participants
  • What is included: Meals, lodging, transporation, and the services of your experienced Portland Audubon leaders
  • Not included: Dinner and alcoholic beverages


November 9
November 12
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Tara Lemezis