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Whitewater Rafting in Spokane, Washington

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The Spokane River in Spokane, Washington
The Spokane River in Spokane, Washington

One of Spokane, Washington’s proudest features is the Spokane River, which wends its way along the edge of the city. Recently revamped Riverside Park sits on either side of it (that includes the historic Looff Carousel, outdoor yoga classes, a bike and pedestrian trail and the brand new skate ribbon), the 1974 World’s Fair Pavillion and striking clocktower looks down on it, and the city’s hydro-electric plant utilizes its untamable power. That’s all well and good, but when you’ve had enough lolling on the boardwalk or cooling down in the spray of the waterfall, it’s time for some real fun: it’s time for whitewater rafting in Spokane!

It’s been a while since I’ve been proper white water rafting (I hardly think class II rapids in an inflatable funyak on the Deerfield River in Western Massachusetts counts), and Josh has never been, so you can imagine our excitement when we got the chance to go whitewater rafting in Spokane on a recent trip to Washington State.

whitewater rafting in spokane washington
Geared up in our wetsuits and spray jackets before hitting the rapids on the Spokane River.

It was the very beginning of June and we had just arrived in Washington’s second largest city. Temps in Austin when we left were in the upper 90’s. Temps in Spokane were in the upper 50’s. I freaked. You’ve seen photos of me; I’m not built for anything under 70 degrees. That’s why I moved to places like Florida and Texas; I just can’t handle the cold. So naturally, I was very nervous about rafting in this kind of cool, overcast weather.

Fortunately, when we met the folks from Wiley E. Waters down at the launch point, there was a stack of wetsuits waiting for us. I may have audibly cheered. Indeed, a wetsuit and splash jacket are a wonderful thing when rafting in the Pacific Northwest. We suited up and hit the river.

White Water Rafting in Spokane, Washington.
White Water Rafting in Spokane, Washington. That’s us, the two in front on the bottom row. Photo Credit: Wiley E. Waters

Most of the river is pretty calm on this section, though it can vary depending on water levels at the time. Most of the section resided in the class I-II department with two brief runs through Bowl & Pitcher and Devil’s Toenail, class III portions. They were legit. I thought we were going to lose Josh at one point as he was one of the adventurers in the very front, which offers slightly less security in the way of places to wedge your feet and knees. He definitely came out of his seat a few times.

We spent about 2 hours white water rafting in Spokane and had a great time the whole way. The guides were good at what they do, chatty and sarcastic (my favorite people always are), the company was enjoyable, the vistas were pleasing, and by the end of the run, only my toes (in socks and Chacos) were frozen. Huzzah! I think this video captures our excitement fairly tolerably:

If you’re planning on whitewater rafting in Spokane, do it with Wiley E. Waters. And tell Josh Flanagan we sent you.

Have a fave whitewater spot? Share it in the comments! Wander on!

Is whitewater rafting safe?

With an experienced guide, whitewater rafting is as safe as any other adventurous outdoor pursuit, but like most adrenaline-pumping activities, there are risks involved.

Do I need any experience to go whitewater rafting?

Generally speaking, no. But if you have never been before, let your guide know. You likely will not be put on a trip with the highest class of rapids if this is your first time.

Is whitewater rafting good for families with children?

That largely depends on your children, their abilities, their age, and the restrictions set by guides and rafting companies. But generally speaking, teens and pre-teens are often welcome to participate and many rafting companies offer less intense float trips for the younger crowd.

What time of year can I go river rafting?

That depends on where in the world you are. Warmer climates often offer experiences year-round, while more northern regions that experience cold winters only offer trips in the spring, summer and early fall.