Few US cities can boast of a hidden wilderness within their urban area. Spokane is blessed by the Spokane River Gorge, a stunning and scenic landscape which truly sets the city apart.
Most people only see the Spokane River as it flows by the opera house, through Riverfront Park and over the dramatic Spokane Falls. But, just another half mile downstream, the river begins a meandering eight mile journey through a canyon of mostly undeveloped land, including Riverside State Park. The most spectacular section of this journey takes you through the dramatic rock formations of the Bowl & Pitcher. As you gaze upon towering Ponderosa pines, huge formations of basalt cliffs and watch Osprey and eagles soar overhead, it's hard to believe that you're within minutes of downtown.
Later in the summer, when the whitewater section gets too low to raft, our lower Spokane River gentle float provides boaters with an easy float where you can experience nature and beautiful scenery. There are plenty of "pools" between the mellow rapids and riffles that allow you to enjoy the warm Spokane River and jump out of your raft or sit on top kayak for a dip! We float from the Peaceful Valley about four miles downstream to the TJ Menach Bridge where it spans the Spokane River near Spokane Falls Community College.
We encourage groups and families to come on our rafting trips in Spokane too! Contact us at 208-770-2517 or 866-836-9340, and one of our Adventure Consultants will be happy to arrange something for your group!
Summer of 2020 Update:
As of June 29, 2020 we are operating under Washington State Phase 2 rules for outdoor recreation as well as the June 26th Statewide requirement for facial coverings. This rule says that "...individuals may remove face coverings under certain circumstances, including...while outdoors in public areas, provided that a distance of six feet is maintained from people who are not members of their household." This means that we cannot take more than one household in a raft and also, in order to maintain six feet between our guide and the household party in the raft, we can take no more than four people in a raft. However, we do have sit-on-top kayaks and for our float trips, these are perfect for maintaining physical distancing as only one person goes in each kayak. In addition, relative to Phase 2 rules, on each trip we currently operate on the Spokane River, we can take "a maximum of eight households and a maximum of 12 individuals in a group."
To avoid group transport we are meeting guests at the put-in at Glover Field by the river in downtown Spokane where you will park your car. The first 4 people to sign up can ride in our van back to the put-in. If we have only 6-8 on a trip everyone can ride in our van. If we have 9-12 on the trip, then we will provide transportation to the first 4-6 people that signed up plus 1-2 drivers of any other party back to Glover Field where they will retrieve their car and then return to the take out point to get their passengers. On float trips this is a 10-15 minute drive. On our whitewater rafting trips it is about 25 minutes. All passengers in our vans must wear face masks. COVID-19 operations demand new thinking and flexibility and we appreciate your understanding.
The Spokane River is located in northern Idaho and eastern Washington and flows approximately 111 miles. Beginning in Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, the Spokane River empties into the low, mountainous area east of the Columbia River. From Lake Coeur d'Alene, the Spokane River flows west into east-central Washington towards the city of Spokane, Washington. After passing through Spokane, it continues to flow west along the southern edge of the Selkirk Mountains, forming the southeastern boundary of the Spokane Indian Reservation. Next, the Spokane River is impounded by Little Falls Dam and forms the 15 mile Long Lake. Long Lake joins Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, which is the Columbia River impounded by the Grand Coulee Dam. For this reason, the lower 29 miles of the Spokane River is known as the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt.
The Spokane River has three major tributaries. The first two, the Little Spokane River and Hangman Creek, are both located in the Spokane area (both are near the location of our Spokane River whitewater rafting trips). The third, Chamokane Creek, joins the Spokane River in the lower part of the Spokane River Basin, just after Long Lake.
There are seven dams on the Spokane River, from Post Falls Dam at the outlet from Lake Coeur d'Alene to Little Falls Dam at river mile 29. All seven dams have hydroelectric generators. Upriver Dam is owned and operated by the City of Spokane Water Department and the other six are owned by Avista Corporation, an electric and natural gas company based in Spokane, Washington. All seven dams were built between 1890 and 1922. Our Spokane rafting trips end near Long Lake Dam.
Before Little Falls Dam was completed, the Indian fishery in that area may have been the most important on the river, attracting more than 1,000 people and yielding as many as 800 fish per day. Indians from other tribes, including the Coeur d'Alenes and Colvilles, also participated in the fishery. There were 11 primary Indian fishing sites along the Spokane River, the Little Falls site being one of them, before the construction of the dams. The Spokane River spawned enormous Salmon. It was not uncommon for the summer Chinooks (kings) to weigh in at 50 to 80 pounds.
The completion of Little Falls Dam in 1911 stopped fish from returning farther upstream. The dam was built with a fish ladder, but it did not work well. The much larger Long Lake Dam, completed in 1915 five miles upstream, had no fish ladder. Salmon continued to spawn downriver from Little Falls Dam into the late 1930s, when Grand Coulee Dam, then under construction, blocked all Salmon and Steelhead from the upper Columbia River Basin.
Today, the Spokane River supports populations of Rainbow Trout, Northern Pikeminnow, and Bridegelip Suckers, as well as several non-native species. We provide fly fishing trips throughout Idaho, but not on the Spokane River. It supported several species of Salmon, but only before the construction of Long Lake Dam in 1915 blocked upstream passage.
For the Spokane Tribe, the Spokane River has been "a pathway of life for many, many generations." The Tribe was the first "rafters" of this river. The river has served as a source of nourishment, in addition to being used for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Spokane Falls was a place for tribal members to gather with family and friends. The Spokane River and the Spokane Falls are in the heart of the ancestral homelands of the Tribe. Our rafting trips on the Spokane River respect and nurtures these traditions and our interpretive guides bring people closer to the nature and history of the Spokane River.
Today, the Spokane Tribe works to protect and improve water quality and fisheries for tribal and non-tribal benefit. ROW Adventures is also part of many organizations that help preserve the Spokane River and keep it clean. During Spokane rafting trips with ROW Adventures, guests not only enjoy a day of whitewater rafting but also learn about the Spokane River, the wildlife that calls the Spokane River home and the importance that the Spokane River has in our region.
The Spokane River Centennial Trail is situated along the course of the Spokane River. It begins at the Idaho state line and ends at Nine Mile Falls, Washington. The path of the Centennial Trail includes a metropolitan center section in the heart of downtown Spokane with more rural east and west endpoints. ROW Adventures offers daily biking tours of the Centennial Trail. In 2008, there were more than 2 million users on the Centennial Trail. Whether users are walking, running, skating, or biking, the Spokane River Centennial Trail offers the peace and quiet of nature, abundant wildlife, and the chance to enjoy the gentle flow of the Spokane River.