Cascade Indians and other Chinookan-speaking peoples once lived in cedar plank homes and tepees in small villages along the Columbia River, all the way from the mouth of the river and upstream to The Dalles. More than a decade before Lewis and Clark visited these villages, a smallpox epidemic hit the Chinook people. Later, in 1856, the U.S. Army wrestled away control of the region from the Cascade Indians, and today’s descendants of the various Chinook people are members of the Warm Springs, Yakama, Grand Ronde and other regional tribes.
Visitors to the Fort Raines area can purchase fresh salmon from tribal fishers, who fish the Columbia River the same way as their ancestors once did. In addition, visitors to this section of the Columbia River can enjoy a 1.5-mile hiking trail that passes a Cascade village site and one of three nearby military forts. Upstream, the Great Cascades was once a prime fishing area featuring a series of spectacular rapids later flooded by the Bonneville Dam in 1937.
Several miles east, Cathlakaheckit, another Cascade village, was excavated then destroyed in 1979 to make way for the Bonneville Dam’s second powerhouse. Excavated items are displayed at the Washington Shore Visitor Complex. Underwater salmon viewing is also featured at the same facility. Fort Cascades is about five miles west of the Bridge of the Gods on Highway 14.
To get to this location from Vancouver, Washington, take Highway 14 east toward the Bonneville Dam. Travel past the Bonneville Dam Visitor Center to the Fort Raines fishing access site, about one mile west of the Bridge of the Gods.
For more information about buying fresh Indian-caught salmon in season, visit the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) website at www.critfc.org.
The CRITFC mission is to ensure a unified voice in the overall management of the fishery resources, and as managers, to protect reserved treaty rights through the exercise of the inherent sovereign powers of the tribes. The organization includes the Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Nez Perce tribes.
- In most years, the public can purchase fresh premium chinook and steelhead from mid-June through early October
- Best availability is 10 a.m. to dusk (dependent upon supply and weather). Days, times and locations may vary with vendors
- Each fisher is independent; prices are set by fishers. Most sales are cash only
- Most sales locations are easy drive-up