The beach, whether it’s on a river or one of the superb lakes that dot the Inland Northwest, is one of the most popular places to be when temperatures climb. But there is much more fun to be had in the water than simply swimming. Think outside the beach buoys and discover some fantastic water adventures to diversify your summer.
Stand Up Paddleboarding
Whether you have your own board or rent one from a local shop, paddle boarding is one of the quietest and most enjoyable ways to explore our waterways. Many people paddle out on the lakes, because you don’t have to deal with a current when you’re heading back to shore. If you decide to paddle a river, consider starting upstream first, or park a second vehicle at your landing spot. Otherwise, you’ll discover just how much stamina you do have at the end of the day with the water working against you. For a unique urban river paddling experience, rent a board from Fun Unlimited right downtown Spokane along the Centennial Trail. The new board and boat launch facility provides access to an incredibly scenic and lake-like stretch of the Spokane River just upstream from Riverfront Park.
Rafting and Floating
Our rivers and streams have a wealth of adventure hiding in their waters, from rafting and kayaking to tubing. Try a mellow DIY float on more tame stretches of the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, or Blackfoot Rivers, or hire a guide to take you down a wilder stretch of river. Several local outfitters offer guided trips in Idaho, Washington, and Montana.
This is certainly not a quiet sport, but it is highly enjoyable if you are looking for a natural thrill. There aren’t any local ordinances against cliff jumping in the area, but there are usually restrictions on installing ropes and rope swings on bluffs, and some cliffs are on private property and should be avoided. If you decide to jump, always put safety first. Never jump in an area where the water is shallow, and don’t jump alone. Know where you are going to get out of the water, and have a board, life jacket, or other floating device readily available.
Here are a few places that have moderately elevated rock faces where you can jump into the water: Loon Lake, Long Lake, Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene, and Green Bay Campground on Lake Pend Oreille. Locals may also recommend a few spots, if they’re willing to give up their secret spots.
Somewhere in between swimming and scuba diving, snorkeling is an inexpensive way to explore shallow waters, like beaches, streams, bays, and docks. Aside from the stuff that people tend to just drop into the water, you might catch sight of some of the fascinating aquatic life that lives in our waterways.
Scuba diving is a captivating pastime that requires awareness, training, and certification. According to Jake Powlison of Jake’s Scuba Adventures in Coeur d’Alene, scuba diving is a healthy hobby. “It lets us get away from the world as we know it and gets us down into the depths of our own world and environment.”
Jake’s Scuba Adventures is one of several dive shops in Spokane and North Idaho that offer scuba diving instruction, certification, and diving opportunities. Diving in open waters is no small matter, and joining a group dive not only increases safety, but is also a great way to meet new people who are into the sport.
Diving to shipwrecks and other ruins in Lake Coeur d’Alene and Lake Pend Oreille is a popular diving activity. After Lake Coeur d’Alene’s steamship era ended, many of the old boats were stripped, used to launch fireworks, and then sunk. The lake is a veritable steamboat graveyard. Lake Pend Oreille has a wider variety of wrecks and rubble on its bottom, some of which are legendary. Many sites are inaccessible because of the lakes extreme depth in places. YouTube has an abundance of videos of shipwreck dives in North Idaho, but one of the best resources for diving information is the Inland Northwest Divers organization. You can find videos, discussion, and contact info on the group’s Facebook page.
Whatever water recreation you decide to pursue this summer, do it safely and have fun! //
Michal Bennett wrote about advocates Art Manley and Scott Reed in the April issue. Read more of her writing at www.shortandtasty.blogspot.com.