Spokane River: An Introduction
The Spokane River is a prominent part of the Inland Northwest, flowing approximately 111 miles through eastern Washington state and northern Idaho. It is home to rich wildlife and is vital to our communities’ aquifers. It is also known for its great outdoor recreation abilities and complex, rich history. First, let us get into the possible adventure.
Enjoyable Throughout The Seasons
The Spokane River offers diverse recreational opportunities throughout the seasons, making it a clear draw for any outdoor enthusiast. As the snow melts and the river swells with fresh water in the spring, kayakers and rafters eagerly navigate its exhilarating rapids, providing an adrenaline-packed experience. The riverbanks come alive with a fresh landscape of wildflowers and grasses. Anglers, a type of fisher, also delight in the spring, casting their lines into the clear waters in search of rainbow trout, pikeminnow, and other species found in the river. Whether you prefer the thrill of water sports, the tranquility of a riverside bike ride or walk, or the joy of a leisurely day out on the beach with the family, the Spokane River provides a playground for recreation every season. Here are a few of our top recommendations!
Water-Based River Recreating
It is important to remember that some parts are extremely dangerous and utterly off-limits to human activity on the water. The Spokane River has six dams and many dangerous rapids throughout the early season. Exercise extreme caution, and consider hiring a local expert in water-based outdoor recreation to help with any watersports!
As summer arrives, revel in the refreshing coolness of the water. Q’emiln Park in Post Falls, Idaho, gains popularity as the community gathers for barbecues amongst the pine trees, a big open beach, and sunbathing on the water without a lick of shade to stand in your way. This area is popular as it offers additional outdoor recreation, such as rock climbing and hiking trails. Other swimming spots exist along the river and more within the Spokane Region. While some swimming is available closer to downtown Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho College Beach, I’d recommend checking out the Coeur d’Alene City Park & Beach as an alternative for swimming. While swimming is an excellent summer activity, North Idaho is not known for sandy beaches.
Water-based recreation on the Spokane River can offer a thrilling or relaxing experience, from kayaking to whitewater rafting in its rapids to leisurely tubing and swimming in its calm stretches – the Spokane River can be an incredibly special place to recreate on the water.
There are many boat launches throughout the river. Visitors seeking a quick tour of the river from the side of the Idaho border can consider a Spokane River Cruise from Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises, which runs about 3 hours. Many Coeur d’Alene-based rental companies, such as KJ Marine, are also found throughout the region and offer pontoon boats, jet skis, and other water-based recreation equipment rentals. The Spokane River has six dams, so boating across the entire river is impossible. However, a few boat docks are publically available throughout Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River to the Post Falls dams. Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene both offer public boat launches. Public and private boat slips are also available throughout the area, such as Riverstone for a quick bite or The Cedars restaurant – the area’s floating restaurant with boater accommodation.
Stick to land with one of the area’s many public parks. You can find the river easy to appreciate from the ground at any time of year. Here are a few local recommendations to get you started on your journey.
4. Falls Park
Falls Park in Post Falls is a picturesque riverside park featuring a scenic dam and great views of the Spokane River, with the addition of walking trails and picnic areas, a playground, a wide-open public park space, and a recent addition of a concrete amphitheater near the river.
3. Riverfront Park
In neighboring Spokane, WA, Riverfront Park offers numerous beautiful river views. You can even consider taking the local SkyRide, which takes you on a scenic pass over the rushing flow of the river in downtown Spokane. It takes about 15 minutes round-trip and is an all-weather experience, which allows some of the best views at many times of the year. The official Spokane city website is a reliable source of up-to-date SkyRide information.
2. People’s Park
Off W Riverside Ave in Spokane is People’s Park, public access to the river. This is a great spot for fishing or spending quality time with the river. It’s close to many parks, including the adjacent Centennial Trail Park, a generous bike trail that connects Spokane with Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
1. The Islands Centennial Trailhead
The North Idaho Centennial Trail, combined with the Spokane River Centennial Trail, is a beautiful bike and walking trail that connects Spokane with Coeur d’Alene through a combined 61 miles of non-motorized trail, to be exact. In Spokane, The Islands Centennial Trailhead has excellent parking and is a perfect starting point for your new adventure on bike and by foot.
Is The Spokane River Safe?
The river has a rich history in this country and our state. According to Spokane River Wikipedia, David Thompson was the first European to cross the Rocky Mountains and explore the area. The Coeur d’Alene and Spokane Native Americans and other Salish peoples used to live and travel along the banks. Today, the river isn’t without its health problems or wildlife concerns due to human improvement. Fish habitats have previously been drastically reduced to none and virtually wiped out. In 1910, the river’s salmon populations disappeared completely due to the development of the Little Falls Hydroelectric Powerplant dam, built by 1910. Additionally, the river has had a stacking history with human waste reaching the waterways from the city of Spokane, WA, and currently suffers from chemical pollutants such as PCBs leaching into groundwater from industrial sites. Spokane River Keepers, a non-profit organization, services to protect and monitor the river’s health. So this may leave you wondering, is the Spokane River safe? There are several dams and previously heavily polluted areas, and certain times of the year can be downright dangerous to enjoy the river. Today, hard-working community activists and government employees have worked to clean up the presence of lead, arsenic, and other metals found in populated areas of the river. Increased implementation of advanced technologies across many government programs and grassroots organizations allows for increased monitoring and general safety amongst river safety. Consuming fish from the river is still not recommended, but recreation is generally considered safe throughout parts of the river and the Coeur d’Alene-Spokane area.
No matter the season, the Spokane River is inviting. We want to take a moment to remind our friends to pack it in and pack it out! The river should always be enjoyed responsibly. Don’t litter and leave what you find and nothing more; remember to respect the natural wildlife around you. It’s never too late to care for Mother Earth and our world. Happy Adventuring!