A park for all seasons
Sprawling parks with nature’s own water features, pocket parks tucked off busy streets, parks for dogs to run free, parks for kids to learn the difference between a pine tree and a fir, parks to lose yourself in and parks to watch wildlife – there more than 100 tamed and untamed spaces celebrating nature within a 20-minute drive of city center. Further out, natural wilderness areas lead to the great wide open, all giving testament to this region’s love of the outdoors and appreciation of green spaces.
In 1907 Spokane’s parks board hired the Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects to improve existing parks and build new ones. The two had stellar credentials as the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. who designed New York’s Central Park.
The Olmsteds’ premier project, Manito Park, showcases their imagination and skill. Located on the South Hill in a leafy neighborhood of Victorian, Craftsmen, Tudor Revival and American Foursquare homes, the 90-acre park includes themed sections that feature roses, lilacs, perennials, formal plantings, a greenhouse, Japanese garden and a duck pond.
Smack dab in the center of Spokane, 100-acre Riverfront Park boasts an antique carousel, children’s splash fountain, a giant red wagon play structure, public art displays and numerous trails. Visitors can walk or drive across one of a dozen bridges over the Spokane River, each offering spectacular views of the second largest urban waterfall in the country.
In the heart of the city, perched on the south bank of the river, is Spokane’s newest gem. A gift to the city from Avista Utilities, Huntington Park was redeveloped to reconnect residents and visitors with the Spokane River. City Plaza includes tiered stoneseating, a grassy area and views of the lower falls so close you can hear the rush of the water and feel the mist on your face. Along the winding paths are interpretive signs, historic displays and statues commemorating the Native American tribes that once gathered plentiful salmon from the waterway.
Only minutes from downtown and in sharp contrast to the beautifully landscaped city parks, nine hiking trails wind through 530-acre Dishman Hills Natural Area offering views of dramatic basalt ravines, pine and fir forests.
A 10-minute drive from downtown, 10-thousand acre Riverside State Park draws hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and birdwatchers to its freshwater marshes, rivers, trails, picnic and swimming areas. Massive basalt rock formations flank the pedestrian bridge across the Spokane River. And 20 minutes west, 18,217-acre Turnbull Wildlife Refuge shelters abundant wildlife in and around marshes, wetlands and lakes.
Liberty Lake’s Pavilion Park and Rocky Hill Park are havens for families, with skateboard ramps, a children’s splash fountain, picnic shelters and trails. Just south of the city, 3,000-acre Liberty Lake County Park boasts a public beach, boat launch and a forested hiking trail that leads to a year-round waterfall.
A half hour from Spokane, Coeur d’Alene City Park and Beach draws sun seekers to its wide, sandy beach while kids swarm the Fort Sherman Playground.