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: -117.4231

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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.

Spokane_Falls_050_08042017 - Spokane Falls
Spokane Falls

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

Spokane_Falls_031_08042017 - Looking up at the man-modified Lower Spokane Falls
Looking up at the man-modified Lower Spokane Falls

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).

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.

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

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 during our visit in August 2017.

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

In our August 2017 visit, we walked from the River Park Square Shopping Mall onto North Post Street.

Spokane_Falls_005_08042017 - Julie and Tahia making their way down to the Lower Spokane Falls under a blanket of thick smoke coming from the wildfires in British Columbia during our August 2017 visit
Julie and Tahia making their way down to the Lower Spokane Falls under a blanket of thick smoke coming from the wildfires in British Columbia during our August 2017 visit

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.

Spokane_Falls_015_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

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

Spokane_Falls_053_08042017 - Looking towards the gazeebo overlooking the Upper Spokane Falls
Looking towards the gazeebo overlooking 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.

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.

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

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 and county of Spokane, Washington. It is administered by the City of Spokane. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit the Spokane Tourism Board website.

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. On the day of our visit, the temperature was in the mid 90s and it was thick with smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia. So the air quality was very bad and we tried to keep our visit to Spokane Falls short
Spokane_Falls_007_08042017 - Julie and Tahia walking towards the Monroe Street Dam behind the Huntington Park building en route to the Lower Spokane Falls
Spokane_Falls_008_08042017 - Looking across the park by the Lower Spokane Falls towards the Monroe Street Bridge
Spokane_Falls_012_08042017 - Looking upstream along the Spokane River beneath the North Post Street Bridge towards part of the Upper Spokane Falls way in the background
Spokane_Falls_017_08042017 - Looking across the base of the Lower Spokane Falls towards the Monroe Street Bridge with a red globe sun piercing through the thick smoke that engulfed Eastern Washington
Spokane_Falls_020_08042017 - Angled look across the Lower Spokane Falls as I was walking down towards the lookout at the bottom of the steps
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 after having their fill of the Lower Spokane Falls
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 as I pursued the Upper Spokane Falls
Spokane_Falls_047_08042017 - Looking back down the steps towards the smoke-obscured red globe sun across the Spokane River while I pursued 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 of Spokane

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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.

Spokane_Falls_002_08042017 - The ramp leading into the River Park Square Parking structure though we learned later that we also could have parked on the meter spots along the street closer to Spokane Falls
The ramp leading into the River Park Square Parking structure though we learned later that we also could have parked on the meter spots along the street closer to Spokane Falls

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 in August 2017).

However, 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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Tagged with: spokane, washington, spokane valley, eastern washington, spokane county, waterfall



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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