Riverfront Park Spokane

When you are standing in the 100-acres of beauty that makes Riverfront Park an urban oasis, it's hard to imagine just 50-years ago it was an old railyard. The area was not only cleaned up but turned into the site of the 1974 World's Fair. Now, Riverfront Park is the jewel of downtown Spokane. The Spokane River winds through and cascades over basalt rock and two dams to create the largest urban waterfall in the country. Allow plenty of time to explore Riverfront Spokane's rich history, many attractions, and natural beauty.

Map of Riverfront Park

Bloomsday Sculptures

Riverfront Park is accessible from many points, but we’re going to take you on a journey through the entirety of the park, beginning with a local favorite. The Joy of Running Together is a series of steel sculptures that represent Spokane’s Bloomsday Run. For over 40 years, tens of thousands of runners have come from far and wide to try the 12-kilometer road race. The steel sculptures provide an excellent photo opportunity for the entire family. Pose as a runner among the steel runners for the perfect photo.

Skate Ribbon

Should you find yourself visiting Riverfront Park in the winter, you’ll be treated to an extra attraction. The Numerica Skate Ribbon is a 16-foot-wide and 650-foot-long ribbon of ice that is open from November through February. You can rent a pair of ice skates or sit beside the nearby fire pits and enjoy a warm drink while you watch families skate about in winter bliss.

Laughing at those who fall is entirely optional and comes at no additional charge. During the summer months, one can enjoy the same location on wheels. Visitors can skateboard, scooter, or rollerblade around the Skate Ribbon in the summer, making it a year-round attraction.

SkyRide above the Falls

The Numerica SkyRide provides the best views of Spokane Falls. As you descend over 200 feet across the river, you pass under the historic Monroe Street Bridge and over the wonder and beauty of the falls. Conde Nast Traveler has named the SkyRide one of the top 12 scenic cable rides in the world. You could take this trip at the start of your Riverfront Park experience, but we recommend enjoying it in the end as it makes the perfect capstone to a day’s adventure.

Visitor Information Center

While Riverfront Park is the jewel of downtown Spokane, the city has a lot to offer. Before heading over to the Rotary Fountain, stop by the Visitor Information Center. Here you find local maps, visitor guides, brochures, and professional help from local travel counselors. If you are new to Spokane, this offers the perfect orientation to our little part of the world.

Riverfront Rotary Fountain

Just outside the front doors of the Visitor Information Center, you’ll come upon the Rotary Fountain. With five stainless steel columns shooting 24 feet into the sky combined with 40 overhead jets, the fountain creates a dome-like waterfall at the center along while eight geysers shoot water into the sky. Kids and adults of all ages can run through the fountain, but keep in mind that the fountain is only open from May to September.

The Looff Carrousel

Whether you managed to stay dry from the fountains or not, your next stop is a ride that has been history in the making. The Looff Carrousel was hand-carved in 1909 and maintained a place on the National Register of Historic Places. With 54 horses, 2 Chinese dragons, one giraffe, and a tiger, there is bound to be a special animal for every member of the family. The ride is also wheelchair accessible.

The carousel boasts a ring dispenser that allows riders to grab a ring on each pass. You’ll then get to test your aim as you toss the ring at a clown target as you pass. The Looff is also a great place for a restroom pit stop and a trip to the gift shop for a Spokane souvenir.

The Garbage Goat

As you circle from the carousel, you’ll come across a peculiar attraction. There is no better way to describe The Garbage Goat other than to say it is a steel goat that eats garbage. Designed for the 1974 World’s Fair Expo as an environmental statement, this goat will eat small pieces of garbage with the aid of its vacuum digestive system.

Press the button on the right, hold up a piece of paper, and voila. It might sound simple, but you’ll find yourself scrounging through your pockets, purse, and hopefully the park for every loose paper you can find to feed it.

The Childhood Express

As you follow the trail towards the river, you will come to a fork in the road. You’ll feel a temptation to cross the bridge over to Havermale Island but hold off for just a moment. Off to your right, you’ll find a childhood favorite. A 12-foot-high, 12-foot-wide, and 27-foot-long Radio Flyer is waiting for you and the family. With the inscription that it is “dedicated to Spokane’s children, as a reflection of the past, created in the present, to last into the future,” this is the perfect pit stop for the family. Parents can take a seat and watch the children slide down the wagon handle or even take a slide down yourself. You’ll enjoy the beautiful river scenery while children experience the joy of play.

HAVERMALE ISLAND & THE CLOCKTOWER

Now it’s time to cross the bridge over the Spokane River to Havermale Island. If you are unsure where to go, look for the clocktower and head in that direction. The Clocktower was part of the Great Northern Railroad Depot, which resided on the island before the 1974 Expo. Finished in 1902, the clock tower still operates the good old-fashioned way.

An individual climbs five stories to crank the clock 99 times every week. During an 1877 battle with the Nez Perce Indians, the island served as a refuge to the citizens of Spokane due to its natural barriers. It offered refuge once again during Spokane’s Great Fire of 1889, which devastated the rest of downtown Spokane.

Open-Air Entertainment

Heading to your right from the clocktower, you may be lucky enough to squeeze in a concert, a movie, or other entertainment at the Lilac Bowl. This open-air Amphitheatre hosts a variety of events throughout the year that are worth the trip to Riverfront Park alone. Should you be fortunate enough to stumble across one during your trip, consider it a bonus. If there is not an event going on at the Lilac Bowl, then you can enjoy the cool breeze coming off the Spokane River. Heading north from the Lilac Bowl, you’ll come across a large open-air structure known as the Forestry Shelter. The shelter is perfect for a pit stop and bathroom break before heading on to the rest of the island.

The Pavilion

The Pavilion adorns the center of Havermale Island and, since its inception in 1974, has served a variety of functions. Originally covered in a large white canvas, the newly renovated Pavilion reopened in 2019 equipped with state-of-the-art lighting that creates mesmerizing light shows that you can enjoy in the evening. You’ll also be able to take in breathtaking views of the river from an elevated platform at the Pavilion.

SNXW MENE ISLAND

Yes, there is another island in the middle of the Spokane River, and it is also worth the trip. Heading west from the Pavilion, you will come to a footbridge that will take you over the Upper Falls to the island known as Snxw Mene (sin-HOO-men-huh). Over the years, the island has gone by many names such as Canada Island, Crystal Island, and Cannon Island.

The City recently renamed it in honor of its tribal significance. If you happen to catch the island in the spring as the winter snows feed the river, you will experience its sheer power and force. This is not some man-made attraction. This is nature at its finest.

THE LOWER FALLS & HUNTINGTON PARK

Heading south from the island, you’ll soon find yourself right back where you started. If you did not take the Sky Ride over the falls at the beginning of the trip, then now is the time to do so. However, this is not your only opportunity to see the falls up close and personal.

Without any cost to you, a visitor can head west towards the historic Monroe Street Bridge and down to Huntington Park. Here you can see the lower falls in all its glory and even taste the cold spray of the falls as it mists through the air.

Nature’s Finest in an Urban Setting

Every day, thousands of individuals and families drive through Spokane on their way to the big city bustle of Seattle or the open ranges of Montana. Most are unaware of the natural wonders they are passing by, and those who make an intentional pit stop in Spokane for Riverfront Park will be rewarded. The park was once home to native fishing grounds of local tribes, and industry once claimed it as a local railroad depot. Thanks to the 1974 World’s Fair, the park has been reclaimed for future generations to enjoy. Mother Nature herself has gifted this natural landmark to Spokane, and we are here to share it with the world.