The Snake River

The river's path

The Snake River connects with the Columbia River near Pasco, Washington. The Snake originates in western Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park and is roughly 1,087 miles long. It is the largest tributary of the Columbia River.


Our Working Snake River

By transporting goods up and down the Snake River we keep over 330,000 trucks off our Northwest highways. Barging is the safest, lowest-cost and most environmentally friendly mode of transportation for trade. A typical barge tow consists of a towboat and four barges and moves the same amount of cargo as 140 rail cars or 538 semi-trucks. The tow-boat pushes the barges up and down the river, stopping at one of the eight ports areas along the Snake River. 

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Barge Truck

Because of this efficiency and proximity to Pacific Rim customers, farmers in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington use the ports on the Snake River to send their wheat to deep draft ports on the Columbia River. From there, grain is loaded onto ocean-going ships to feed consumers around the world. In 2014 over four million tons of cargo moved on the Snake. Below is a photo of Lewis-Clark Grain Terminal in Lewiston, Idaho.

Grainport Lewiston

The Snake River is vital to farmers in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, more than 10% of U.S. wheat exports move via the Snake River each year. This video from the television show Washington Grown explains how grain travels from one of the 27 grain elevators along the inland Columbia and Snake rivers to the lower river ports.

Have you ever wondered how wheat moves from farm to market? The wheat farmers of Washington put together this video to illustrate the journey of wheat from the research phase to the end product, including how it travels down the Snake and Columbia rivers.

American Pride Docked

Cruise industry

River cruises are growing in popularity as more people travel between Vancouver and Clarkston on cruise boats. These cruises allow visitors the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Columbia and Snake river scenery directly from the water. They also get the opportunity to visit communities along the rivers and enjoy the many recreational opportunities they have to offer. The number of cruise ships continues to grow and in 2017 over 18,000 passengers toured the river and spent over $15 million during their visits.

Rivermap Ports Snake2

Snake River ports

There are eight port areas on the Snake River and they are vital to the economies of Washington and Idaho. They serve as important grain handling facilities, which give farmers affordable access to the export facilities on the Lower Columbia River. These ports also serve as important drivers for economic growth in their communities. They offer industrial parks to help nurture the growth of small business. They also are supporting high speed bandwidth to rural communities, providing reliable internet access to underserved areas.

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Columbia River

The Columbia River is a vital trade corridor to the nation

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Willamette River

Rising from southern Oregon this river is teeming with activity.

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Our Uses

We depend on the rivers in many ways, for many purposes.