Difficulty II-III+
Length 6.5 Miles
Flow Range 2000 - 30000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 22 minutes ago 1230 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 06/26/2019 10:02 pm

River Description

Although it is in the city limits, the Spokane River has a feel of wilderness as the majority of the run goes through Riverside State Park, a 14,000 acre park along the shores of the river. The river cascades over the dramatic Upper and Lower Spokane Falls in the center of downtown Spokane.

The first access downstream of the falls in Peaceful Valley is the start of a four mile float with a few riffles and swift current down to T.J. Menach Bridge. The area around the Sandifur pedestrian bridge, has been considered as the site for a whitewater park. Use caution as you approach the bridge abutments which have resulted in wrapped boats of inattentive paddlers.

From the put-in for the T.J. Menach Bridge, which is the standard put-in for the whitewater run, it is a leisurely float for 1.5 miles. The first small set of waves occurs just around the first left turn. Depending on flows, paddlers will find occasional catch-on-the run playwaves. At the bottom of the rapids, a unique little playhole known to locals as the "poop-hole" serves up some fun. It draws its name from its proximity to the water treatment plant (no poop here!). This can be a fun little warm-up when the level is right (~11,000).

More slow water flows past the treatment plant. A utility bridge overhead has a sign indicating "dangerous rapids ahead - take-out 300 yards." This marks the entry to the campground area of Riverside State park. The take out here is quite far from the first major rapid the "Bowl and Pitcher." An access trail on river right can be used either as a take out or to scout the Bowl and Pitcher. You are much better off scouting Bowl and Pitcher on the shuttle by entering the campground and going to the suspension walk bridge which puts you right in the middle of the Bowl and Pitcher. There are numerous viewpoints around the park to get a feel for this drop. Pay particular attention to river left below the bridge as a nasty "room of doom" can be lethal at certain flows.

From the overhead utility bridge, paddlers encounter more slow-moving water entering the Bowl and Pitcher area. When the water picks up speed, you'll enter a 200 yard wavetrain that at around 6,000 - 9,500 cfs produces a great little surfwave locals call the Ledge Wave. It is on river left about half way through this rapid. A small eddy just above a large basalt outcropping can be used to enter the ledge. Beware that as you enter this eddy, the basalt wall is slightly undercut and the currents difficult to judge.

After this you will flow around a slow right turn and be able to see the suspension bridge. Numerous waves and occasional holes mark the entry, so plan ahead at higher flows to work towards the center or river right to avoid the previously mentioned hazard on river left. At flows above 7500, the bridge wave begins to appear and gets to be quite a large and super fast surf at higher flows. A recovery eddy below the bridge on river right is available. Below the viewpoint lookout above you, a nice playhole comes in depending on flow.

The river then makes a sharp right turn and enters slower moving water for 1/4 mile. The next left turn you'll come to features another wavetrain that is straight forward, yielding an occasional surf wave also caught on the run. Halfway through this rapid, another red warning sign indicates a significant rapid. The current slows on its approach to the next major rapid, the "Devil's Toenail." This can also be scouted on the shuttle by using the pullout 1 mile below the campground. The run is typically on the right, but can be run middle or left depending on skill and flows. Beware of the large hole that takes up the river left above 15000cfs!

After a slight break, more waves and holes again provide great fun depending on flows and continue for the next 1/3 mile. At flows above 20,000 cfs, beware of what locals call "CYCLOPS"! This nasty hole is barely discernable from above if you are leisurely floating the middle of the river. A small deceptive pillow wave before it is the subtle indication of the point where the river drops into this horrendous reversal. At normal flows (<10,000cfs), "Cyclops" is a large basalt island that sits 6-8 feet out of the water and provides a fun squirtin' spot in its eddies. See the photo of "Cyclops". However, at certain higher flows, this hole becomes one super large, relatively surfable wave/hole (see pics). Sadly, no eddy service is available for this feature; it may take 1/4 mile to find a suitable exit and the hike/put-in requires some effort.

From here to the rifle club is slow water followed by a set of small waves below the rifle club. From here to the takeout, sit back and enjoy the wildlife. Eagles, osprey, blue heron, beaver, and deer can be seen if you're lucky. The takeout is on river right 2 miles below the “Toenail.”


There are several access points for this run from sites in downtown Spokane all the way to Nine Mile Dam. The standard run is T.J. Menach Bridge to Plese Flats but here are the access points from upstream to downstream.

Peaceful Valley: In downtown Spokane the first access downstream of the dramatic Spokane Falls is Peaceful Valley Park under the Maple Street Bridge. Drive to the end of West Water Avenue where you will find good low beach access to the river. Don't block the gate.

T.J. Menach Bridge: A recently developed parking area with river access just downstream of the T.J.Menach bridge on river right. This is a gated lot that is opened by the Spokane Parks department and was a cooperative effort by the city and the boating community.

Disc Golf Course: This access point is used by kayakers as a put-in closer to the start of the best whitewater. Park at the pull-out at the start of the Aubrey L. White Parkway and walk down to the river.

Poop Plant Access: Access at the downstream end of the sewage treatment plant has a rough ramp. This access serves as a take-out for those who just want a class II float or a put-in for those who want a short run that includes the two class III rapids.

Bowl and Pitcher: River access is not available in Riverside State Park's Bowl and Pitcher Area but you can park in the day use area and hike across the suspension bridge to scout the rapids.

Plese Flats: The Plese Flats Day Use Area in Riverside State Park is the standard take-out where the slackwater of the reservoir begins. In addition to river access, it is a picnic area and there are restrooms. Be mindful of closing time when park staff shut the gate. To reach this site you drive along the north side of the river on the Aubrey L. White Parkway in Riverside State Park past the campground and rifle club.

Nine Mile Dam: A new access at Nine Mile Dam on the south side of the reservoir near the dam was recently constructed to provide an option for flatwater paddlers who want to boat from Plese Flats down to the dam.

Rapid Descriptions

Spokane Falls

Class - N/A Mile - -74

Dramatic waterfall in downtown Spokane harnessed for hydropower. No access at the base of the falls so you will need to use one of the access points downstream.

Peaceful Valley Access

Class - N/A Mile - -73.2

This is an alternate put-in and the furthest upstream in downtown Spokane under the Maple Street Bridge.

Disc Golf Course Access

Class - N/A Mile - -68.1
This is a good intermediate access used by kayakers that gives you a couple class II rapids before you approach the poop plant.

Poop Plant Access

Class - N/A Mile - -67.1

This access serves as a take-out for those who just want a class II float or a put-in for those who want a short run that includes the two class III rapids.

Bowl and Pitcher

Class - III Mile - -66.2

Stay to the right and avoid the stuff on far river left.

Devil's Toenail

Class - III Mile - -65.2

The conservative line is river right but watch out for holes. Additional slots between the boulders depending on flows and wood hazards. Some fun playboating can be found in this rapid.

Ninemile Dam

Class - N/A Mile - -58

Ninemile Dam, constrcuted in 1908, backs up a reservoir that extends upstream to Plese Flat which is the take-out for the whitewater run. Flatwater paddling is an option from the standard take-out down the reservoir to the dam.


default user thumbnail
Samuel Schneider
7 years ago

Ran this on 5/12/13, river was around 17-18,000. Put in at the end of W. Water Ave., just west of Glover Field. 14' raft with 4 adults and 4 kids. Fast and fun with lots of big pushy water in the rapids. Great family trip, although next time I'd restrict it to 8yrs and older, at least at this water level. Bowl and Pitcher and Devil's Toenail were both fun and easy taking the conservative river right line. Ran it a couple days later in a IK. Also fun and pushy. Next time I'll drive harder into the big waves for more excitement.

Gage Descriptions

The levels listed are suitable for catarafts, rafts, canoes and kayaks. This section runs all year long from as low as 400 cfs to above 30,000. At low flows expect exposed basalt and narrow drops. At high flows most all rapids are washed out and what is left is fast and HUGE.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2020-06-23 High Fatality Cold Water Read More
2019-07-02 n/a Fatality Solo Paddling Read More
2018-07-03 n/a Fatality Cold Water Read More
2008-04-17 High Fatality High Water Read More
2005-06-05 Medium Fatality One Boat Trip Read More



article main photo

Appeals court sides with Spokane River advocates!

Thomas O'Keefe

Late in the day Wednesday, June 26th, the Washington State Court of Appeals Division II ruled in favor of Spokane River advocates, finding that the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) failed to protect summertime flows needed by the river, and thousands of boaters, fishers, anglers, and businesses. The court, in rejecting Ecology’s Spokane River rule, underscored that the agency arbitrarily disregarded thousands of public comments, boater surveys, an analysis comparing the aesthetics of different flows, and testimony of river-dependent businesses.

article main photo

Protecting Spokane River Summer Flows Goes to Court (WA)

Megan Hooker

The beloved Spokane River flows through the second largest city in Washington state and includes spectacular waterfalls and a deep gorge. In most summers, enough water flows in the River to support fishing, river rafting, and other outdoor recreation. River advocates are asking the Court to hold the Department of Ecology to its duty to protect fish and wildlife, scenic, aesthetic and recreational values, and navigation, when establishing the minimum summer flows allowable for the Spokane River.

article main photo

Governor Appeal to Protect Spokane River (WA) Flows

Thomas O'Keefe

Advocates for the Spokane River are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to grant their petition for protecting all instream values of the Spokane River, including recreational boating opportunities. This is the next step in the citizens’ quest to protect Spokane River flows. A petition was filed in February with the Washington Department of Ecology, and rejected by the agency in April.

article main photo

Spokane River Advocates Petition State to Increase Summertime Water Flow (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater joined in petitioning the Washington Department of Ecology to amend its inadequate flow rule for the Spokane River. In setting the rule, the state agency ignored all public comments in support of protecting the Spokane River, and adopted a flow rule of 850cfs, a flow that is too low and jeopardizes the health of the Spokane River and public uses that include whitewater recreation. We are seeking a minimum summertime flow of 1,800 – 2800cfs to support fisheries and recreation, and protect higher flows for recreation when available.

article main photo

Agency’s new Flow Rule threatens Spokane River (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

Today river advocates criticized the Washington Department of Ecology for adopting a flow rule for the Spokane River that allows further dewatering of the popular urban river. The state rule sets flows for the Spokane River, including summertime low flows at 850 cubic feet per second. A recreational flow survey by American Whitewater found that all boaters prefer flows higher than 1000 cfs and most prefer flows in the range of 5000 cfs.

article main photo

Lower Spokane Flow Survey (WA)

Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater needs your help to define flows that support the full range of whitewater boating opportunities for the Lower Spokane River in Washington. This survey is designed so individuals can evaluate flows, which will then help American Whitewater and our conservation partners describe how flows affect recreation quality. We are seeking responses by Thursday November 6th.

article main photo

Spokane Dams Get New FERC License

Kevin Colburn

On June 18th the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new 50 year license for several dams on the Spokane River, near Spokane Washington and Post Falls Idaho.  The license is based on several years of intense negotiations between the power company, tribes, agencies, and non-governmental organizations. Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, Northwest Whitewater Association, and American Whitewater were involved on behalf of paddlers.  The results of the new license are significant, and paddlers will certainly notice some positive changes in the not too distant future. 


article main photo

Spokane Whitewater Park (WA) campaign goal reached

Thomas O'Keefe

The Friends of the Falls Association has completed its campaign to raise $225,000 for the design, permitting and construction of the Spokane Whitewater Park.

Thomas O'Keefe


Michael French


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1206558 06/04/16 Thomas O'Keefe access point descriptions
1192028 05/27/08 Michael French n/a
1200261 06/08/11 Michael French rapid edits
1206557 06/04/16 Thomas O'Keefe access points mapped
1212263 05/09/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1213097 06/26/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1209629 05/18/18 Michael French