Looking for the best ways to get in the water this summer? From riding the Spokane River to exploring waterfalls in Spokane, here are the top ways to stay cool this 2022 summer.
PADDLE THE LITTLE SPOKANE
Don’t let the name fool you. The Little Spokane River offers as much fun as the main Spokane River it feeds into. The gentler size and flow make it perfect for kayaking. You can rent kayaks through the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department for $49. The rental includes a kayak, paddle, whistle, self-guided tour map, life jacket and shuttle service to the put-in spot at St. George’s. From there, you’ll enjoy a 6-mile, self-guided paddle through a breathtaking wildland area home to deer, moose, osprey, waterfowl, fish and other wild creatures. The rental season runs from July 2 through Sept. 4. Kayaks can be picked up starting at 11 am and are due back by 4 pm. More at spokanerec.org.
RIDE THE SPOKANE RIVER
The Spokane River is iconic. And what better way to get to know the river than to spend an afternoon being tossed around by its whitewater?
Pangaea River Rafting offers guided rafting trips down the Spokane River at $79 for adults and $69 for kids. Wiley E. Waters has a similar guided trip at $69 for adults and $64 for kids. Each trip lasts a couple of hours and climaxes with the Spokane River’s most famous rapids: Bowl and Pitcher and Devil’s Toenail.
The rapids both score a class three on the international scale of river difficulty (six is the highest). Class three rapids generally come with moderate, irregular waves; they’re manageable for beginners but still exciting enough to get your adrenaline pumping. The Bowl and Pitcher rapid is located under the wooden bridge by Riverside State Park. It’s fast-paced and heart-pounding. Devil’s Toenail comes shortly after, with a series of twists and turns guaranteed to get you at least a little bit wet. Visit pangaeariverrafting.com.
If you’re looking for adventure on the other side of the border, try the ROW Adventure Center in Coeur d’Alene. The organization runs an all-day rafting trip on the Moyie River, a little-known gem with class two and three rapids that cut through the rugged pine and cedar forests of North Idaho. Trips are available June 4 through July 5 at $135. More info at rowadventurecenter.com and riverrafting.net.
Fishing Across Spokane
If rafting down whitewater sounds too fast-paced, you can slow things down with the gentlest of aquatic sports — fishing.
When you’re ready to cast a reel, Liberty Lake is a fantastic place to start. The lake is open for fishing from March 1 through Oct. 31. During the warmer summer months, you can find large and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and other prized warm water species. The lake is known for having one of the best brown bullhead fisheries in the area.
If fly-fishing is more your speed, the Spokane River and Grande Ronde River are great places to start. For Idaho, try the St. Joe River or the North Fork of Coeur d’Alene.
Summer Concerts at Lake Coeur d'Alene
There’s something about boats that just makes everything a bit more fun. Sure, you can catch one of the hundreds of concerts on land in the Inland Northwest this summer, but if you’re looking to spice it up, why not catch a show on a boat? Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises has six concerts scheduled for its Bands on Boats Summer Concert Series. Tickets start at $36.50. Spokane-based artist Jerry Lee Raines is headlining on Aug. 25. Visit cdacruises.com/bands-on-boats for details.
Summer Splash Pads for Kids
Kids and families looking to stay cool can check out one of Spokane’s 19 splash pads. The pads are open from 9 am-8 pm daily between May 27 and Sept. 6. They’re located at:
• Audubon Park
• Carlson Park
• Chief Garry Park
• Coeur d’Alene Park
• Franklin Park
• Friendship Park
• Glass Park
• Grandview Park
• Manito Park
• Pacific Park
• Thornton Murphy Park
• Riverfront Park: Ice Age Floods Playground
• Riverfront Park: Rotary Fountain
• Shadle Park
• Underhill Park
Splash pads sporadically close for maintenance. You can call 509-625-6960 to check for hours and closures.
Discover the Waterfalls of Spokane
The 198-foot Palouse Falls is Washington’s official state waterfall. They are stunningly gorgeous — and massive. Go in early summer to experience the full force of the snow runoff. The falls are just off the Snake River, about a two-hour drive from Spokane. If that’s too far, try checking out the Spokane Falls in the heart of the city. Huntington Park is a great place for an up-close view. For an aerial view, try the gondola. Tickets are free for children under 2, $5.75 for children 2-12 and $7.75 for adults. The ride lasts about 15 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the Riverfront Spokane website or on-site.