Spokane Falls

Spokane, Washington, USA

About Spokane Falls


Hiking Distance: 1 mile round trip (upper and lower falls)
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2017-08-04
Date last visited: 2017-08-04

Waterfall Latitude: 47.66304
Waterfall Longitude: -117.42551

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Spokane Falls was a waterfall that had quite a bit going for it despite its urban downtown surroundings and main-modified characteristics (supporting a pair of hydroelectric diversion dams).

We also had to contend with some nasty thick smoke from the British Columbia wildfires that happened to blow towards Eastern Washington during our visit in August 2017.

In any case, the waterfall consisted of two main sections – the Lower Spokane Falls and the Upper Spokane Falls.

Spokane_Falls_050_08042017 - Spokane Falls
Spokane Falls

The Lower Falls appeared to be where the Spokane River channeled into a narrower rocky chute tumbling over a few cascading tiers.

The uppermost drop of the falls was modified to support the Monroe Street Dam.

The Upper Falls was a wide two-segment drop split by Canada Island. The Upper Falls Dam took in water from the south channel (right side as you face it).

Thus, its volume was affected though we didn’t find it that noticeable during our visit.

Similarities and Differences with Willamette Falls in Oregon City

Unlike the Willamette Falls in Oregon, there was quite a bit of infrastructure already set up to allow the public to enjoy this falls.

In fact, it ran pretty much ran through the heart of downtown Spokane (though Oregon City is working to open up access to Willamette Falls in the future).

Spokane_Falls_075_08042017 - Spokane Falls was only a few minutes walk from the River Park Square Shopping Mall so it really felt like the waterfall was gracefully integrated with the downtown area
Spokane Falls was only a few minutes walk from the River Park Square Shopping Mall so it really felt like the waterfall was gracefully integrated with the downtown area

In addition to the waterfalls, there was also the Riverfront Park, some greenspace trails across Canada Island, the River Park Square Shopping Mall, and the heart of downtown Spokane a block or two further to the south.

Indeed, there was still a lot going on here even though the Riverfront Park (which featured some exhibits, walking trails, and even carnival-like rides) was closed for construction.

It definitely contrasted with the Oregon City experience.

In fact, it made us wonder if the restoration going on over there intends to pattern itself after what the city of Spokane had been enjoying here since the city’s re-birth from the early 2000s.

Our Lower Spokane Falls Experience

Spokane_Falls_031_08042017 - Direct look at the Lower Spokane Falls from the lookout at the foot of the Monroe Street Bridge
Direct look at the Lower Spokane Falls from the lookout at the foot of the Monroe Street Bridge

In our visit, we walked from the River Park Square Shopping Mall onto North Post Street.

Then, we went down some steps to our left descending between some cable car pylons (apparently belonging to the Skyride gondola), Spokane City Hall, and the Mobius Science Center.

The path continued down towards the Monroe Street Dam, where we could look upstream towards part of the Upper Spokane Falls beneath the North Post Street Bridge.

The steps continued down along the banks of the Spokane River towards a lookout area almost directly beneath the pillars of the Monroe Street Bridge. This lookout yielded our closest views of the Lower Spokane Falls.

One of my regrets about this visit was not seeing the Lower Falls from the Monroe Street Bridge.

Spokane_Falls_017_08042017 - Looking down over the bottom of the Lower Spokane Falls towards the Monroe Street Bridge
Looking down over the bottom of the Lower Spokane Falls towards the Monroe Street Bridge

However, that would require backtracking to West Spokane Falls Blvd then walking along North Monroe Street to the middle of the road bridge.

There was no direct access from the Lower Spokane Falls Lookouts to get up to the Monroe Street Bridge.

Our Upper Spokane Falls Experience

After having our fill of the lower lookout, we then walked back up the steps before Julie and Tahia returned to the mall while I checked out the Upper Spokane Falls.

There was a narrow corridor sandwiched between the Spokane River and Huntington Park, and that was where I went up a few more flights of stairs before regaining North Post Street.

From there, I checked out the falls from a gazebo overlooking the Upper Spokane Falls as well as the North Post Street Bridge itself. The photo you see at the top of this page came from this lookout.

Spokane_Falls_061_08042017 - Looking at the left part of the Upper Spokane Falls
Looking at the left part of the Upper Spokane Falls

This was about the extent of my waterfall experience here because I had to limit my exposure to the thick smoke from the British Columbia Fires to the north.

Nonetheless, I very easily could have extended my visit by going on the trails traversing the Spokane River via Canada Island upstream from the falls.

I also could have explored some of the trails on the north bank on the Spokane River for a different perspective of both the Upper and Lower Falls.

Overall, I spent about 45 minutes or so. However, we could have easily extended our visit to a half-day or longer, depending on how many of the activities here you wanted to do.

Authorities

Spokane Falls resides in the city of Spokane, Washington. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit the Spokane Tourism Board website.

Spokane_Falls_002_08042017 - Walking past the ramp leading up to the parking structure for the River Park Square Shopping Mall
Spokane_Falls_001_08042017 - Looking towards the Riverfront Park, which was closed during our August 2017 visit
Spokane_Falls_004_08042017 - Julie and Tahia walking down the steps towards the Lower Spokane Falls
Spokane_Falls_005_08042017 - The day we visited Spokane Falls was in the mid 90s and it was thick with smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia. This photo shows the sun against a cable car pylon that I believe belonged to the Skyride gondola
Spokane_Falls_007_08042017 - Julie and Tahia walking towards the Monroe Street Dam behind the Huntington Park building
Spokane_Falls_012_08042017 - Looking upstream along the Spokane River beneath the North Post Street Bridge towards part of the Upper Spokane Falls
Spokane_Falls_015_08042017 - Walking down the steps alongside the Spokane River and Falls with the Monroe Street Bridge looming high up above
Spokane_Falls_020_08042017 - Angled look across the Lower Spokane Falls as I was walking down towards the lookout
Spokane_Falls_024_08042017 - Looking ahead at the Lower Spokane Falls lookout at the foot of the Monroe Street Bridge
Spokane_Falls_032_08042017 - Context of some metal sculpture or statue of a Native American on horseback and the Lower Spokane Falls
Spokane_Falls_036_08042017 - Julie and Tahia walking back up the steps past some hydroelectric turbine relic
Spokane_Falls_039_08042017 - Approaching a narrow corridor that took me behind the Huntington Park building towards the North Post Street Bridge
Spokane_Falls_043_08042017 - Looking downstream over the brink of the Lower Spokane Falls with the eerie red glow from the smoke-obscured sun shining in the Spokane River
Spokane_Falls_045_08042017 - About to go up the steps taking me up to the North Post Street Bridge
Spokane_Falls_053_08042017 - This was the gazeebo with a partial look at the Upper Spokane Falls
Spokane_Falls_056_08042017 - Broad look at the Upper Spokane Falls from the North Post Street Bridge
Spokane_Falls_058_08042017 - Zoomed in and focused on the right segment of the Upper Spokane Falls
Spokane_Falls_062_08042017 - From the North Post Street Bridge, I noticed this interesting-looking tower amidst the smoke looking further to the north of the city

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Spokane Falls was pretty much in the downtown Spokane area. We’ll describe the driving directions as if you were headed east on the I-90 going into the city.

So driving east on the I-90, we took exit 281 for Division St (also for US2 east and US395 north). We kept left at the fork to go north on Division St. After about a half-mile, we turned left onto East Spokane Falls Road. Then, we continued going west on Spokane Falls Rd for about 0.6 miles before encountering N Post St. We actually opted to park in the River Park Square Shopping Mall on the left (they charged about $1.25 per half-hour during our visit) though there was some metered street parking along North Post Street on the right.

To give you some geographical context, Spokane was 10 miles (15 minutes drive) west of Spokane Valley, 279 miles (about 4.5 hours drive) east of Seattle, 151 miles (about 3 hours drive) north of Walla Walla, 34 miles (about 45 minutes drive) west of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and 197 miles (over 3 hours drive) west of Missoula, Montana.

Back and forth sweep of part of the Upper Spokane Falls from an overlook at the Huntington Park


Comprehensive long video following along the Lower Spokane Falls


Back and forth sweep covering the Upper Spokane Falls from a lightly-used road bridge

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