Spokane is one of the largest cities to be found in Washington state, on the west coast of the United States of America.
Located inland, the city lies at a crossroads in the region, with the border of Idaho to the east, Canada less than one hundred miles to the north, and Seattle three hundred miles to the west.
The mighty Spokane River flows through the city itself, and has contributed to the city’s growth through the decades.
As well as being an important center of business and commerce in Washington state, Spokane is perhaps better known to travelers because of its proximity to some of the best natural scenery in the region.
Aside from the raging torrents of the river, the city is just a short drive away from the wild landscapes of Mount Spokane, where in summer you can hike and in winter skiing is very much the favorite pastime.
Across the state border in Idaho, there are vast areas of wilderness which are protected as National Forests awaiting visitors.
It’s the perfect base in Washington state for outdoor lovers and to help inspire your travels, here are the best day trips from Spokane.
1. Mount Spokane
Located just an hour to the north of the Spokane city center, Mount Spokane is one of the best outdoor recreational areas in the region.
Named for the indigenous local tribes that also gave the city and the river their names, this is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It’s also a huge area of wilderness, and the opportunities here are absolutely endless.
There are miles of hiking trails to walk in the summer, with endless views over the mountains and landscapes which make the tough terrain worth every ounce of effort required to traverse it.
Once the snow falls and settles, the area turns into one of Washington state’s best ski resorts, with several ski runs and resorts having been established on the slopes.
Mount Spokane itself is a prominent feature of the landscape, reaching the dizzy height of almost 1800 meters.
2. Little Spokane River Natural Area
Follow the river north from the city center and you reach several areas of beautiful, protected outdoor reserves.
One of these is the Little Spokane River Natural Area, which is just 10 miles away, but a world away from the city.
There are many outstanding hiking trails to be found along the river, or you can take to the water in a kayak or canoe.
The main attraction, though, is the Indian Painted Rocks. This remarkable archaeological find was painted here over 250 years ago by the local Native Indian tribes.
It’s a well-preserved example of a culture that was unfortunately almost lost with European expansion to the west.
3. Riverside State Park
Also found on the banks of the Spokane River is the Riverside State Park.
This area of beautiful hiking and outdoor trails is just 10 miles away from the city center and makes for a great escape from Spokane for the day.
One of the most impressive areas here is known as the Bowl and Pitcher, a spectacular if turbulent stretch of river that’s surrounded by tall forest.
This is a favorite hiking and camping area, and if a day trip isn’t quite enough to leave you refreshed and immersed in nature away from the city, you can always stay the night too.
4. Nine Mile Falls
Nine Mile Falls is a small community that’s found on the Spokane River, between the Little River Natural Area and the Riverside State Park.
Like these two neighboring areas of natural beauty, Nine Mile Falls is in equally stunning surroundings on the banks of the river.
Named for what was once a raging waterfall, due to damming projects upstream the waterfall is no longer the sight it once was, but don’t let that deter you from visiting the rest of the magnificent scenery waiting here.
5. McLellan Conservation Area
The McLellan Conservation Area is located along the Spokane River, around 20 miles northwest of the city.
While the recreation areas close to the city can get busy, particularly in summer, this small piece of land remains a more isolated and peaceful affair throughout the year due to its secluded location.
Surrounded on most sides by the Spokane River, this is a beautiful place to escape the city and its crowds.
6. Dry Falls
Dry Falls was once five times the size of Niagra Falls.
Now, it’s almost completely dry. A long, long time ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, the waterfall would have been an incredible sight of crashing water that stretched for miles.
These days, it’s still an impressive sight to see, despite the lack of water, as you can distinctly make out the enormous size of what would have been the falls.
Located around 100 miles to the west of Spokane, Dry Falls is part of the Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park.
7. Grand Coulee Dam
Also to the west of Spokane, the Grand Coulee Dam is found along the Colombia River.
This huge feat of engineering dates back to the 1930’s, when it was built during the Great Depression to provide both hydroelectric power and jobs.
The huge dam is an impressive structure to see, as is the Roosevelt Reservoir which is created by runoff, but perhaps more interesting is the controversy behind the dam, as when it was built, thousands of local Native Indians had to be relocated.
8. Win Tur Bison Farm
Although Bison once roamed the Great American Plains in their millions, overhunting led to their sharp decline when Europeans began to settle in the west.
Today, there are few left, but the Win Tur Bison Farm is one establishment that is trying to make a difference by breeding these unique animals on their farmland.
Visit the farm to see bison roaming, and to learn more about their near extinction in America.
The farm is around an hour’s drive away to the north-west of Spokane.
9. Colville National Forest
The Colville National Forest is a huge area of preserved wilderness that is waiting for adventurers in the northeast of Washington State.
Just two hours away from Spokane, this is a rugged, wild and beautiful land that will take you back to times before Europeans began to settle here.
The forest is known for its wildlife, and here you can find bears – both grizzly and black – wolves, cougars and any other classic western American animal you might care to imagine.
10. Walla Walla
Walla Walla is a small city that’s located right on the state border with Oregon, to the south of Spokane.
A charming place to visit, Walla Walla is best known for its wine industry, which has become increasingly popular with visitors over the last few years.
In the surrounding countryside, amongst beautiful scenery, you can enjoy some of Washington’s best wine tasting experiences.
Just to the west of Walla Wall is the larger city of Kennewick.
The city is on the route taken by the Lewis and Clarke expedition in the 19th century, which opened the west up to settlement from the eastern states.
It lies on the beautiful banks of the Columbia River and is a wonderful place to spend the day exploring.
12. Post Falls
Just 25 miles to the west of Spokane, but across the border in the state of Idaho, Post Falls is a small town with a big history.
As well as being located amongst beautiful landscapes on the edge of Idaho’s vast forest reserves, Post Falls is where you can find Treaty Rock.
This is where in the 19th century, local Native Indian tribes signed a treaty with incoming settlers, and the agreement was written in paint across huge rocks where it can still be seen to this day.
13. Coeur d’Alene National Forest
Couer d’Alene National Forest is one of the most spectacular areas to visit in nearby Idaho.
Just an hour down the road from Spokane the forest begins, and Couer d’Alene is just one of three extensive National Forest areas that encompass a region known as the Idaho Panhandle.
This is a wild area and it’s home to a huge array of wildlife which makes a marvelous outdoor playground for those looking for a great adventure.
Hike, kayak, bike, whatever takes your fancy, and simply enjoy one of the best National Forests in the United States of America.
You can quite literally spend day after day hiking through this spectacular area, so be prepared to return day after day from Spokane once you have a taste for the beauty that awaits you here.
14. Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
A little closer to Spokane, the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is located just 20 miles to the south of the city center.
This is a truly diverse landscape, with a mixture of wetlands and pristine forest protected within the refuge, alongside a huge array of wildlife.
It’s perfect for hiking and camping.
A three-hour drive away across two state borders, Missoula is the second-largest city in Montana, and it makes for a great day trip for those looking to experience life in Big Sky Country.
The city is surrounded by beautiful forests and is perfect for outdoor lovers looking to get a taste of the landscapes and natural scenery that Montana is so famous for.