The bulk carrier
Global Explorer braves the bar. Thanks to Columbia River Bar Pilot
Capt. Robert Johonson for this photo.
The Lower Columbia River has some prime ship watching spots. Most are
easily accessible by car or on foot, a few only by boat. Thanks to Ship
Report listeners and bloggers who contributed to this list. Happy Ship
Watching! - Joanne
Ship Watching Spots - bring
and patience (ship arrival times can vary because of many
factors, such as weather and current)
Many Thanks to Ship Report
listeners Geo and Joe SixPack for their contributions to this list. If
you know a good ship watching spot, let us know at shipreport@earthlink/.net.
Or post on the Ship Report
Blog. Hope to hear from you!
Bridges: Astoria Megler and New Youngs Bay
Access is limited because of moving traffic and no place to pull over,
but you can get some great glimpses as you drive by. No
pedestrians permitted on the Astoria Megler Bridge (except once a year
during the annual bridge walk).
- Neahkanie Mt parking lot at the
roadside viewing area south of Seaside
Itís about 40 miles
to the horizon from there. Also good for whale
watching with binocs.
- Observation deck, South Jetty, Fort
Stevens State Park
Good view of the
Columbia River bar.
- 14th St. Dock in downtown Astoria
Anywhere downtown can be a good spot to shipwatch. But this small dock
and observation area is right next to the Columbia River Pilots Astoria
HQ. A prime spot to watch the Pilot Launch Arrow 2 heading out to
passing ships -- you'll see Columbia River Bar and River Pilots
transferring to and from ships as they pass downtown.
- Astoria Column
On land or from the
top of the tower, the panoramic view is unbeatable.
- Jim Crow Point on the Columbia River
On the Washington side of
the river. Good view from the beach to the Astoria Megler Bridge.
Accessible only by boat (kayak).
- Lewis and Clark Bridge in Longview
of traffic here too, but you can park at the end of the bridge and
walk out on it. Great view of bulk carriers loading and unloading at
the docks (logs and steel)
- Kelly Point
At the confluence of the confluence
Columbia and Willamette rivers. Possible auto access, & a
favorite kayaking spot
- Swan Island, Portland
Shipyard there has a drydock, you can see huge ships out of the water
for repairs. A view of this one may be accessible only by boat
- Cape Disappointment State Park, Ilwaco
The Visitor Center at the park has the most amazing wall of windows in
the main room that overlooks the Columbia River Bar. A great dry, warm
place to watch vessels brave rough weather. They even have spotting
scopes and binocs on hand for visitors. If that's too tame for you, you
can hike out to the lighthouse on the Cape. You'll be safely above
dangerous surf, but it can be an exciting spot to weather and
shipwatch. It's the spot where the Coast Guard observes conditions on
the bar for their ongoing bar reports.
Point in Warrenton/Hammond
Ships turn here to
make the run to
the Astoria Megler Bridge. Car carriers lean in the wind here. Can be
interesting to watch the ships negotiate the turn.
Riverwalk in downtown Astoria
especially toward the West End of town where the channel seems to be
closer to the shore.
Safeway Parking Lot in Astoria
Buy groceries AND get great
ship views...what more could a ship fan want? You can also hear sea
lions and see great looking fishing boats at the nearby East Mooring
- East Mooring Basin
A good place to sometimes
see anchored ships up close.
- Seamenís Memorial behind the River
Theater in Astoria
A great place to remember those who have given their lives at sea. Also
you get a great view of vessels passing under the Astoria Megler
Bridge. When the current is strong you can see the buoy there get
pulled way over and even under by the force of the water.
- Jones Beach
West of Clatskanie
off highway 30 (turn north at the
Korean Restaurant). Follow the winding road to sandy beach with close
proximity to the shipping
channel. Great place for a close-up look at ships as they go by.
- County Line Park
This park is located on Hwy 4 between Longview and Cathlamet,
Washington. A listener recommended this spot: "The river is fairly
narrow at that point and outbound ships pass very close to the bank."