Hidden Gems Around Eastern Washington
Hidden Gems Around Eastern Washington
For many, the decision of where to put down roots is determined by more than just cost of living and job opportunity. Any outdoor adventurer or nature enthusiast will tell you the importance of living in an environment that supports your hobbies and passions. While there seems to be a mecca in the United States for nearly every outdoor activity, Eastern Washington’s diverse natural landscape attracts people nationwide. With its roaring rivers, abundant hiking trails, pristine golf courses, and vibrant nightlife, Spokane has plenty to offer to anyone who lives there. While the locals of Spokane are still undecided on their proper residential title (Spokanian? Spokanite? Spokanoid?), they can all agree on one thing: Spokane is a place they are proud to call home.
For a day engulfed in Washington’s natural beauty, residents of Spokane have to look no further than the Spokane River. This 111 mile long tributary of the Columbia River passes over three Spokane Dams and creates the majestic Spokane Falls, located in the central business district of downtown Spokane. With stretches of both white and crystal clear water, paddlers of all levels are able to enjoy a day on the river.
While white water rafting tours are offered in abundance, one can also have a more low-key, self-guided experience with the rentals available throughout Spokane. Kayaks and paddle boards are offered with a mini lesson and provide the perfect opportunity to admire the wildlife that lives in this region. Blue heron, beaver, marmots, ducks, and osprey are all commonly sighted while paddling on the Spokane River.
Paddlers are not the only ones who flock to the Spokane River. Fly fisherman can be found wading in the shallows just off-shore through the month of March. Season begins again when the Caddis hatches are at their peak, typically around June 1st. The Spokane River is ideal for fly anglers because of its varied water and convenient location. Fisherman commonly reel in wild redband rainbow trout as well as brown and cutthroat trout, some fish measuring 18” or longer, but averaging 14-16”.
Another local must-do for a day on the water is grabbing a beer at No-Li Brewhouse, Spokane’s largest brewpub, located right on Spokane River’s edge. Founded in 1993, No-Li, originally called Northern Lights, is known for their local sourcing and production, innovation, and delicious craft brews. No-Li has received recognition from celebrities such as Blake Shelton, won gold medals, and been named “Top Brewery to Watch” by Draft Magazine.
Hiking and Biking
On their days off from work, many Spokane residents take advantage of their natural surroundings by waking early, taking their coffee in a thermos, and hitting local hiking trails. From relaxing, walking paths to rugged, mountainous terrain, there are options for casual hikers and enthusiasts alike.
For a more strenuous experience, consider Iller Creek Trail, located in the Dishman Hills Conservation Area. This area’s diverse landscape includes the Rocks of Sharon, a cluster of granite rocks ideal for bouldering and climbing. Along with its breathtaking scenery, Iller Creek is renowned for its wildlife. Early morning hikers are known to spot deer, turkeys, bald eagles, and, on occasion, moose.
For a more relaxed stroll, Spokane’s Riverside State Park offers over 100 miles of trails that are suitable for all ages and abilities. Covering 14,000 acres, Riverside is the largest park in the state of Washington and offers biking, fishing, boating, camping, horseback riding, ATV riding, and wildlife viewing.
In addition to its extensive hiking trail system, Spokane is known to be a paradise for mountain bikers as well. The conveniently located Beacon Hill Mountain Bike Park offers the city’s largest system of trails that vary from jump lines to cross country flows. For bikers looking to get out of town, the Kettle Crest area is just north of Spokane and offers over 110 miles of singletrack biking trails.
There is no shortage of picturesque tent camping sites in Spokane. Riverside State Park offers 16 standard sites, two boat ramps, freshwater fishing, a 120-ft dock, and an abundance of biking and hiking trails. Located on the Spokane River, campers enjoy swimming on hot summer days and having campfires on cold nights.
Open each year in May, the Mount Spokane State Park features eight camping sites at an elevation of 5,883 feet. Due to its vantage point, this park boasts spectacular views along with 100 miles of trails featuring old-growth timber and granite outcroppings. These campsites book quickly so a reservation is often necessary.
60 miles north of Spokane lies the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. This first-come, first-served boaters paradise offers 27 campsites and is situated around Lake Roosevelt, a 130-mile lake created in 1941 due to the Grand Coulee Dam. With 22 boat launches, 10 beaches, and a pet friendly environment, many residents of Spokane consider these campgrounds to be worth the drive.