Phoenix to Spokane Road Trip Guide

Introduction

Phoenix, AZ, is a place of warmth and sunshine, both literally and figuratively. The city has loads to offer to its visitors, especially those who love art. From natural landscapes and outdoor activities to museums and indoor fun, Phoenix has pretty much got it all covered.

Phoenix is a desert city, which makes it perfect for RV road trippers as the land is flat and the roads are wide with plenty of parking spots. Explore the city on foot and experience desert trails, exquisite food, baseball training, and sunny skies.

If you find yourself in Phoenix with some free time on your hands, we suggest visiting the First Fridays Monthly Art Walk, Desert Botanical Garden, Tovrea Castle, Roosevelt Row, and Phoenix Comic Fest to set the tone for the rest of the journey.

Fortunately, there are several routes that you can choose from when heading to Spokane on a week-long RV road trip. The time of the year makes a huge difference in your choice of route as most roadways are blocked during the winters or cut off due to extreme weather conditions.

Spokane, WA, is far different from Phoenix, AZ, when it comes to landscape and topography but quite similar when it comes to celebrating finer arts. It’s a perfect end to a memorable road trip where you get to douse yourself in everything artistic and historic.

The city also offers numerous outdoor recreations with its vibrant river gorge and places such as Manito Park and Riverfront Park.

This weeklong road trip adventure will take you from the south of the USA to its northern borders and includes abundant attractions, parks, lakes, rivers and historic cities along the way.

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Details

60'
Max RV length
60'
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

Umatilla National Forest

Umatilla National Forest is located in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. The National Forest is spread over 1.4 million acres of distinct landscapes and flora communities.

In addition to mountains, the forest is also home to numerous v-shaped valleys situated between grassland ridges and plateaus. The scenic and beautiful view of the forest is completed by the bold basalt outcroppings and grassland benches.

The Umatilla National Forest also boasts two designated winding and scenic rivers so that the visitors can enjoy floating, fishing, and hiking activities. The area is also home to a large number of wildlife species.

When you’re camping here in your RVs, you’re sure to come across several animals in their natural habitat. You can easily stay here for a day or two and still won’t be able to see all that this place has to offer.

Some of the highlights of Umatilla National Forest include Ray Ridge Viewpoint, Whitman Route Interpretive Site, Olive Lake Campground, and Fremont Power House Interpretive Site.


Nampa

On your RV road trip to Spokane, you’ll come across the largest city of Canyon County, Idaho. That certainly asks for a stopover. In Nampa, make sure you visit in the morning so you can have the entire day to explore the beautiful city and sleep at night at one of the many camping spots available within city limits.

Your first stop in the city should be the Warhawk Air Museum that exhibits the historical memorabilia and personal memories of people who made sacrifices for the freedom of the country.

Another must-visit destination at Nampa is the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Lowell. It’s a beautiful and scenic place for birdwatching and hunting.

Here you can take a break, relax and enjoy the presence of hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds around you. By the end of fall and winter, ducks and geese flock here in large numbers making for quite a spectacle.


Black Rock Desert

The best week-long RV road trip features every landscape possible and fortunately, this road trip from Phoenix to Spokane does just that. It covers mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and even desserts.
If you are in Northern Nevada, then you have to visit the Black Rock Desert Wilderness, no questions asked. This is the same desert that hostsBurning Man in summer, so you can have double the fun if this road trip takes place around the same time.
Regardless of the time of the year, you must visit the Black Rock Playa, which is an ancient bed of the Pleistocene Lake Lahontan. What makes it a landmark in that it is one of the flattest surfaces on the planet. This place is especially popular with land sailors and rocket enthusiasts and a place where land speed records are set and broken.


Fourth Ward School Museum

This is a long RV road trip and you might be pressed for time, which is why you might not be able to stop at Virginia City for long, but you can spare an hour or two and stop for a quick historical visit to the Fourth Ward School Museum.

You can take this tour guided or unguided. Either way, you’ll find yourself in awe of this last standing multi-story wooden school building. This is the only one remaining in the USA. You can actually walk inside the old classrooms and sit in the original wooden school desks; once occupied by real students hundreds of years ago.

The school turned museum also exhibits the preserved family heritages of those that once walked these historic hallways and classrooms.


Lake Tahoe

After three more hours of driving, we suggest you take a break and camp at Lake Tahoe. You can park your RVs and relax on the beach to enjoy scenic views of the majestic landscape.

However, if you are more of an always-on-the-go person then you can trade your car for paddleboards and kayaks at Sand Harbor State Park and enjoy the spellbinding beauty of Lake Tahoe and its calm waters.

If you are really lucky, you might find yourself at Lake Tahoe just for the time of August Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Sit on the sand, under the sparkle of the stars and listen to the magical words of Shakespeare as the lake laps gently nearby.

If you are a very private person who’s seeking some solitude, then head straight to Secret Cove, which is a short bike from the main road and boasts turquoise coves with natural rocks serving as a great sunning spot and a place for enjoying solitude and privacy.


Mammoth Mountain

If driving to Spokane via the California route, you can also stop over at Mammoth Mountain which is less than two hours away from Manzanar and is undoubtedly one of the best Alpine Skiing Mountains, worldwide.

This mountain has an 11,053-foot summit and receives an average of 400 inches of snow every year. As a result, every winter there is more than 3500 acres of land open for winter enthusiasts and skiers to enjoy.

The landscape here is so diverse that everyone from a beginner skier to an expert skier would have a thrilling time. You can choose from amongst wide-open bowls, steep chutes, bumps, gullies, tree skiing, and well-groomed trails.

Even if your road trip is not planned around winters, there’s no reason to miss this heavenly stopover, because adventures abound year-round and there’s a lot more to Mammoth Mountains than just skiing.

Mammoth Mountain receives visitors in huge amounts throughout the year for its historic significance. Spring marks the opening of the fishing season and then summer opens the road to Devils Postpile National Monument.


Manzanar

After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, America retaliated by sending 120,000 Japanese living in America to be detained in remote, military-style camps. One of these camps was the Manzanar War Relocation Center, in California.

It didn’t matter that a huge number of Japanese-Americans were serving in the US Army at the time or the fact that these thousands of Japanese-Americans were just regular people with families, women, and children. President Roosevelt's reasoning behind the act was the fear of sabotage and espionage.

This is a great place to stop and to remind the kids about the history of the country. You can take ranger-led programs and guided in-depth tours of the place where you can learn about each part of the camp and its role in history. Manzanar National Historic Site also exhibits collections, each of which tells a painful story from the time of WWII.


Trona Pinnacle

Trona Pinnacle receives thousands of visitors every year because of its uber unique and unusual geological features. No words can do justice to the beauty of this place unless seen with your own eyes.

Located in the middle of nowhere, Trona Pinnacle is home to numerous huge rock structures in the middle of an otherwise barren and desolate landscape.

These rock formations were once referred to as “Cathedral City” because they resemble the shape of towers, tombstones, cones, and ridges. The place is so popular amongst road trippers that primitive camping is exclusively allowed here.

You can park your RV at a nice spot and even spend a few hours here, as long as you leave no traces of your presence behind. If you have brought your hiking boots then you can also enjoy the vast network of hiking trails in the area.

It’s a good change from the city life of Phoenix and allows you to reconnect with nature and witness some strange yet fascinating rock formations.


Summary

Spokane is one of the most beautiful cities of Washington and you’ll find yourself wide-eyed and fascinated by the natural and man-made beauty this city proudly celebrates. You can lose yourself in the wilderness even within the heart of the city visiting places such as Palisades Park, Mt Spokane State Park, Palouse Falls, and Riverside State Park for camping, hiking, kayaking, rafting, skiing, and enjoying nature in general.

The city is also home to numerous art galleries, museums, and performing art venues such as the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Jundt Art Museum, Spokane Symphony, and the Blue Door Theatre.

Spokane has plenty to offer for both outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers who also love history, culture, and art-making. It's the perfect city to end a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable RV road trip.

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