Vancouver USA is located between the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. On the north bank of the Columbia River, the Port of Vancouver offers beautiful natural scenery and recreational opportunities, captivating shops, great dining, and down-home hospitality to visitors. In the middle of a growing wine region, visitors to the Port of Vancouver USA will find a wide range of affordable attractions.
The Port of Vancouver has a dry-summer subtropical climate. The nearby Cascade Mountains can cause cold winds moving down the Columbia River Gorge, and the Port of Vancouver has had relatively colder temperatures and freezing rain that can paralyze the region. Temperatures in the Port of Vancouver range from an average high of 24°C (75°F) in July to an average low of 0.2°C (32.4°F) in January. Precipitation is heaviest in the winter, peaking in December at 16.2 centimeters (6.4 inches) and falling to as low as 0.8 centimeters (20 inches) in July. Snow comes to the Port of Vancouver from November through March, peaking in January at 8 centimeters (3.2 inches). Humidity levels in the Port of Vancouver are lowest in July (82%) and highest in October (90%).
The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is one of the most popular attractions in the Port of Vancouver. Historic Fort Vancouver was the site of the Hudson's Bay Company fur trading post in the early 1800s. Located near downtown, it is adjacent to the Pearson Air Field and Museum. On the 4th of July, there is a magnificent fireworks show at the National Historic Site which is open in the summer (mid-March through early November) from 9am until 5pm and in winter from 9am until 4pm. Admission to the site is $3 per person or $5 per family. Visitors to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will enjoy learning about the cultures that have lived and worked here, following the many trails along the Columbia River, participating in costumed programs and living history events, or viewing a world-class collection of archaeological artifacts.
The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site includes the Visitor Center (open from 9am to 5pm Monday through Saturday, opening at 10am on Sunday, the Reconstructed Fort (9am to 5pm Monday through Saturday, opening at noon on Sunday), the Pearson Air Museum (10am to 5pm Wednesday through Saturday), and the McLoughlin House (10am to 4pm on Friday and Saturday).
There are impressive archaeological features at the Vancouver National Historic Reserve where the remains of the original sites and inhabitants are displayed. The Public Archaeology Program includes special tours, lectures, and educational opportunities.
Fort Vancouver tours and programs vary according to the visitor's interests. A free guided Audio Tour is available, as are self-guided tours of the fort and the McLoughlin House. Self-guided tour booklets are available at the Visitor Center and the Contact Station at the fort. Guided tours are available at the McLoughlin House, and public talks are offered by staff each day at Fort Vancouver. Large groups can arrange for tours and events that fall within the established park guidelines.
The Fort Vancouver portion of the Site includes several buildings open to visitors. The Bake House includes demonstrations of historic bakery techniques for "sea bisquits." The Blacksmith Shop includes demonstrations of the art. The Carpentry Shop displays historic carpentry tools. Cooking was performed in the Kitchen, where meals were prepared.
Canadian-born Dr. John McLoughlin has been recognized by the State legislature as the "Father of Oregon." He was the superintendent of the British Hudson's Bay Company Fort Vancouver trading post that brought white settlers into the Port of Vancouver area. At the time, dress hats made of beaver fur were popular around the world, and fur trappers and traders swarmed the Port of Vancouver area to get the valuable pelt. American pioneers travelling the Oregon Trail looked to McLoughlin for supplies that would help them survive their first winter. His kindness cost him his job, and the family moved into their new home in 1846 when he was forced to retire. Dr. McLoughlin died in the home in 1857. He and his wife, Marguerite, are buried next to the house. In 1909, McLoughlin House was saved from demolition and moved to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
Located adjacent to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is Pearson Field, the oldest operating airfield in the United States. It dates back to the 1905 landing of the dirigible Gelatine on the polo grounds of the Vancouver Barracks. Used mainly for general aviation, its only runway is located beneath the final approach to the Portland International Airport. The Pearson Air Museum displays include aircraft constructed before and during World War II and the second oldest wooden aircraft hangar in the United States.
The Port of Vancouver's Water Resources Education Center offers exhibits that teach us how to wisely use this precious resource. Open Monday through Saturday from 9am until 5pm, the Water Resources Education Center's Exhibit Hall offers hands-on interactive displays and activities. From the balconies, visitors can take in breathtaking views of the Columbia River. The Marine Park Overlook affords wonderful views of the 50-acre wetlands and connects to the Port of Vancouver's waterfront Renaissance Trail.
The Water Resource Education Center's Exhibit Hall displays illustrate how drinking water gets to your faucet and where waste water goes when you flush the toilet. Interactive displays show visitors how to protect and sustain community water sources. The Backyard Wildlife Garden demonstrates how people can stop using synthetic pesticides, conserve water resources, and provide wildlife habitat in their own yards. Puddles Place, designed for children from one to five, has places where kids can play, explore, and view aquaria with fish, frogs, and invertebrates.
The White Surgeon Gallery presents the work of Northwest artists in many media that include photography, carvings, paintings, fiber arts, and ceramic related to the Pacific Northwest environment.
The Water Resources Education Center in the Port of Vancouver is also the caretaker for one of the Columbia River's few remaining natural riparian areas. The wetlands are a natural classroom for learning about ecosystem restoration and protection.