Spilling and swirling out of Idaho, crossing Spokane Valley and cascading into downtown, the Spokane River pulses and churns with the rhythm of the region. All along its waters, both local residents and far-flung visitors seek recreation and relief — hiking, biking, fishing and floating the river. Many activities and access points can be found at: spokaneriver.net/watertrail/. The Spokane River defines this city and draws in life to its banks. Get out and enjoy it.
Bowl and Pitcher
Running along a wide bend northwest of the city, the Bowl and Pitcher area of Riverside State Park offers some of the most scenic hiking and impressive basalt rock formations to be found on the Spokane River. With a Discovery Pass, visitors can explore several miles of riverside trail, picnic in day-use barbecue pits or camp overnight.
Paul Delaney, president of the local Northwest Whitewater Association, says few urban rivers offer the rugged beauty and challenging rapids available on the Spokane River. "It takes some skills," he says. "You've got to be careful." Upper waters offer relaxed floating, he says, but lower stretches in Riverside State Park provide some strong whitewater. He says the association invites beginners to take its safety and skill courses before hitting the water alone.
A luxurious tour of the Inland Northwest's beauty, the
Centennial Trail spans more than 37 miles from Riverside State Park east to Idaho, connecting runners, hikers and bikers from remote woodland to urban bustle. Much of the trail follows along or overlooks the Spokane River, offering grand views of scenic waterfront, wildlife and the falls. At the state line, the trail connects to the North Idaho Centennial Trail for a total length of more than 60 miles.
It's not just for college students. The Spokane River Rowing Association brings together rowers of all ages and skill levels for training and racing on local waters. Brandan Borgias, vice president of the SRRA, says the group works closely with Gonzaga University to promote rowing on the Spokane. "The river setting is beautiful," he says, offering flat water and abundant wildlife. Each spring the group hosts a Learn to Row program, introducing beginners to the fundamentals of rowing. More information can be found at spokanerowing.org.
Despite world-class fly-fishing in nearby Idaho, experienced anglers know better than to overlook the Spokane River. Allen Peterson, owner of Swede's Fly Shop, says Spokane has a "very unique" river that rewards those who take time to learn the water. "You have to understand the feeding habits of the fish," he says, adding he's always happy to talk fish with visitors. The shop also hosts monthly classes for beginners.