Spokane is known for being a lot of things: the fourth-largest city in the Northwest, a city full of lilacs and the birthplace of Father’s Day, just to name a few.
It’s also renowned for its outdoor amenities — lakes, rivers, mountains, you name it. Lucky for residents and visitors, many of these amenities are at their peak during the winter months. From skating and skiing to snowshoeing and hiking, Spokane’s got a little bit of everything for staying active this winter.
Spokane is just a snowball’s throw from some prime downhill skiing areas. Just 28 miles from downtown, Mount Spokane’s ski and snowboard park has 45 runs — 16 for night skiing — a mile-long terrain park, Nordic trails and a multi-lane tubing hill. Forty-two miles north is 49° North Mountain Resort, which offers 82 marked trails over 2,325 acres, as well as 10 miles of Nordic trails.
Spokane proper is home to two different ice rinks for skating, hockey and even curling. The Eagles Ice Arena offers public skating, figure skating and hockey. The city’s Riverfront Park Ice Palace is a unique seasonal outdoor rink for skating, hockey and the Lilac City Curling Club. Twenty minutes outside of Spokane in Cheney, Wash., Eastern Washington University’s recreation center has a rink open to the public, and the Frontier Ice Arena is just about a half an hour away in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The hiking’s good around Spokane all year long, with several popular trails accessible in almost any season. The 5-mile roundtrip Iller Creek loop takes you to the Rocks of Sharon, a fantastic rock climbing area, and offers expansive views of the Palouse and the Selkirk Mountains. The incredible Palouse Falls look even more so in the winter and can be accessed by a short 2-mile jaunt; and Towell Falls, which gush out in the middle of the desert, make for a unique and scenic reward on this 6-mile roundtrip hike.
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
In addition to its Nordic skiing options, Mount Spokane has six different snowshoe trails, two that head up to a warming cabin and one that goes up to the very top of the hill. A hundred miles north of Spokane, the Kettle Range is full of quiet trails for snowshoers and skiers, and the snowshoe or ski to Lake Gillette is a classic winter trip. Spokane Parks and Recreation also offers guided snowshoe and ski outings.
Yes, you read that right. It might be a little chilly, but Spokane is known for being close to a host of lake and river opportunities for year-round paddling. Several runs on the Spokane River are popular with paddlers, and advanced whitewater enthusiasts are all about the “winter surf season” at spots such as Zoo Wave, Sullivan Hole and Trailer Park Wave.