Spokane is the county seat of Spokane County and is located on the Spokane River in eastern Washington. It borders the Selkirk Mountains, west of the Rocky Mountain foothills and 92 miles south of the Canadian border. Known locally as the birthplace of Father's Day, it has been nicknamed "Lilac City". However, due to hosting the Spokane Hoopfest annually, it has the regional nickname "Hooptown USA". As of the 2010 census, Spokane had a population of 208,916, making it the second largest city in the state.
The region's original inhabitants were members of the Spokane tribe, which means "children of the sun" in Salishan. David Thompson founded the North West Company's Spokane House in 1810. This site was the first long-term European settlement in the region. Then the completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881 brought more settlers.
Gold and silver were discovered in the late 19th century and accelerated development. The city's economy was dependent on mining, timber and agriculture until the 1980s. Nevertheless, the city has experienced an upswing in the 21st century. After the Great Fire of 1889, architect Kirtland Kelsey Cutter redesigned many of downtown Spokane's Romanesque-style buildings. Still in transition to a more service-oriented economy, Spokane is developing the medical field. The opening of River Park Square in 1999 acted as a catalyst for downtown's rebirth and led to the expansion of the Spokane Convention Center.
Today the city is home to Riverfront and Manito parks, as well as the Fox and Bing Crosby theaters. During your visit, you might also want to take the time to see the world-renowned Davenport Hotel and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.
Campgrounds near Spokane, Washington
North Spokane RV Campground is the closest RV park to downtown and just minutes from downtown. In addition, it is central to many local amenities and attractions. The park offers full hookups, back-in and pull-through sites, as well as on-site pools and hot tubs.
The Willow Bay RV Resort & Marina is farther from downtown, but it's still only a 30-minute drive. It's on a lake which makes it great if you want to escape. Travelers report that the sites are grass but equipped with electricity and water hookups. Also, there is great fishing and the toilet is large with clean showers.
Alderwood RV Express is only 14 minutes from Spokane International Airport. Daily rates at this RV campground start at $70, and the park resembles a self-contained neighborhood. The facility has a total of 108 locations and offers both 30 amp and 50 amp hookups. This campground is a great getaway from the high desert of eastern Washington.
National Parks near Spokane, Washington
Glacier National Park is 272 miles east of Spokane via I-90. It has earned the nickname "Crown of the Continent" and covers over a million hectares of land. Within the park boundaries are over 130 named lakes, 1,000 species of plants and animals, and 734 miles of hiking trails. The park reaches elevations of up to 10,000 feet above sea level and is home to a tremendous diversity of ecosystems and microclimates. During one expedition bighorn sheep, moose, bats, mountain lions and grizzly bears could be seen. Access to many of the park's features is handicapped in the winter, but daytime temperatures remain in the 60s and 70s in the summer.
Located 379 miles northwest of Spokane, North Cascades National Park is one of the most remote parks in the United States. It lies on the US-Canadian border and is home to the snow-capped Cascade Mountains. Visiting families can look forward to turquoise lakes, glaciers and fields of wildflowers. Nearly a third of all glaciers in the continental US are within the park, but you need a backcountry permit to approach them. Visitors can hike, kayak, camp, and fish in the park.
Located 269 miles southwest of Spokane, Mount Rainier National Park is home to the most glaciated peak in the country. The summit of Mount Rainier is 14,410 feet and the lower slopes are filled with old growth forest and meadows. In total, the park covers 236,000 hectares and is visited by almost one and a half million visitors every year. The park is open year-round, and average highs range from 21 F to 65 F. The lowest slopes melt by late spring, but the summit is always covered in snow.
State Parks near Spokane, Washington
Riverside State Park is just 14 miles northwest of Spokane via N Old Trails Rd. The park covers 9,194 hectares and is packed with activities for nature lovers. Visitors can kayak, horseback ride, and freshwater fish. The park originally started as a fur trading post and was also an important cultural site for Native Americans. Summer temperatures range from 45 F to 75 F, dropping to 24 F to 34 F in winter.
Heyburn State Park is 44.8 miles southeast of Spokane via WA-27. It is located right where Lakes Benewah, Charcolet and Hidden meet the St. Joe River. This area is also the oldest state park in the Northwest and encompasses 8,000 acres of pristine wilderness. Originally, the Coeur d'Alene Indians inhabited the area and fished in well-stocked lakes. Today's visitors can participate in recreational activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, swimming, and bird watching throughout the year.
Located 53 miles northeast of Spokane, Farragut State Park sits on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille in the Coeur d'Alene Mountains. The park includes five 18-hole disc golf courses, miles of hiking trails, and a beautiful lake for swimming. An on-site museum also explores the site's history as the second largest naval training station in the world. If you wish, you can view the park from horseback and there is a boat launch to launch your gear.
National Sites near Spokane, Washington
Located 95 miles northwest of Spokane via US-395, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area is an area created by the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam. Families traveling can take a guided tour of the dam to learn how it works, and in summer laser lights are projected onto its walls. The Colville Tribal Museum also offers a look at Native American beadwork, basketry, tools and clothing. Finally, you can tour the Fort Spokane Visitor Center & Museum, which showcases the region's history in a disused fort.
Located 173 miles south of Spokane, Whitman Mission National Historic Site is the site of an ancient murder mystery. It lies at the confluence of the Columbia and Walla Walla rivers and at the end of the original Oregon Trail. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were murdered at this location in 1847, starting a chain of events that led to the creation of the Oregon Territory. You can explore the Fort Walla Walla Museum and experience Indian culture, 17 pioneer buildings and a military installation.
Nez Perce National Historical Park is 111 miles south of Spokane and includes 38 sites in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of Nez Perce habitation in these lands over 1,000 years ago. In the historical park there are informative exhibits detailing the 1,200-mile flight of the Nez Perce people. You can learn more about their fate as they fled and tried to evade capture by US Army forces in the late 19th century.
National Forests near Spokane, Washington
Colville National Forest is 82 miles north of Spokane in the extreme northeast corner of Washington. Because it's more remote, it doesn't get the same attention as the Cascades or the Olympic National Forest. Hence, the smaller crowds make it easy for visitors to enjoy the natural wonders in solitude. The Flume Creek Trail winds through the forest and offers an eight-mile round-trip adventure. Located in the Abercrombie-Hooknose Roadless Area, it takes you into the hills. If you have a mountain to climb, the Abercrombie Mountain Trail is on the way.
A group of forests known collectively as the Idaho Panhandle National Forests is located 118 miles east of Spokane via the 1-90. This area includes the Coeur d'Alene, Kaniksu and St. Joe forests which are jointly managed. Elevations range from a low of 2,100 feet to a high of 7,600 feet. Adventure seekers can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.
Lolo National Forest is 106 miles east of Spokane via I-90. Established in 1906, it covers two million acres of land and includes four wilderness areas. There are over 700 trails in the woods and the park is open all year round. Take the Babcock Mountain Trail to see bighorn sheep grazing, and there's a good chance you'll spot some migratory birds along the way.