Anyone will enjoy the scenic drive between Riverside, California, and Spokane, Washington, which is lined with spectacular natural areas, state, and national parks, and wilderness regions that provide excellent camping opportunities. When traveling between Riverside and Spokane, take the more westerly route, which is 1250 miles in length. This route is slightly longer than the most direct route north, taking you through Pomona, Pasadena, Weed, and east along the Columbia River. But it is especially scenic, with excellent activities and sites for families traveling through California, Oregon, and Washington state.
While staying near Riverside, California, camp at the Angeles National Forest which has several campgrounds that accommodate smaller RV units or holiday trailers, or at local KOAs in the region that have more services and amenities and accommodate larger units. Riverside, California is known for its beautiful parks, historic sites, and unique Spanish architecture. Be sure to investigate the cities' attractions before heading north to Spokane.
Your road trip will take you on Route 60 west from Riverside to Pomona, then you will take Route 71 and Route 57 north to Interstate 210 which will head west to Pasadena before turning north. When you reach the junction with Interstate 5, go north to Weed, where you will take Route 97 northeast. When you reach the Columbia River turn east on Interstate 84, also known as Veterans Memorial Highway, and proceed to Intestate 82 which will cross the Columbia River. Travelers can then take Intestate 182 a short distance to Route 395, and take Route 395 to Interstate 90 which will take you northeast to Spokane.
A trip to Spokane is not complete without a visit to Riverfront Park, where numerous attractions abound. A special activity for families visiting the park is the Numerica SkyRide which has been named “One of the Top 12 Scenic Cable Rides in the World” by several travel sites.
This sky ride takes you over the Spokane Falls which are the second-longest urban falls in the US. The 15-minute ride is taken in the comfort of an enclosed cabin, making the SkyRide available in most weather conditions. The ride may be closed when high winds or high temperatures are occurring. During the summer, book an early day trip to ensure that the heat does not hamper your planned ride.
There are 15 cabins that are ADA accessible, and can hold up to six passengers each. You will also get to experience the wonderful downtown area of Spokane which includes features like the art deco City Hall, before dropping 200 feet over the Huntington Park Natural Area, across the Spokane River, under the historic Monroe Street Bridge, and returning back to Riverfront Park. The best viewing is between March and June, when the water is the highest, and the falls are at their peak flow providing a dramatic show. Be sure to take a camera, windows on the cabins open to provide clear shots. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Purchase tickets at Riverfront Park Tickets.
Proceeding up Route 395, though Kennewick, Washington, you will pass right by the unique Banged-Up 9/11 Memorial. This monument was created from scrap metals recovered from the World Trade Center wreckage, including a vertical support column, and was erected in memory of the 2977 people who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks. At 35 feet in height, this dramatic, “battered-looking” memorial, weighs three tons. and was dedicated on September 11, 2011, ten years after the trade center attacks.
The monument is located on the southwest edge of Kennewick, a mile north of exit 113 on Interstate 82, on the east side of Highway 395, just north of the intersection with Hildebrandt Road. There is no admission to view the monument.
If you choose to camp in the Kennewick, Washington area, you can stay at the Pasco/Tri-Cities KOA Journey which accommodates RVs up to 55 feet in length, has 50 amp electric hookups, wi-fi, and cable hookups. Amenities at this campground include a pool, hot tub/sauna, camp kitchen, pavilion, and a dog park.
Enjoy boating, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hiking, and more, at beautiful Mount Hood National Park. The park is situated just east of Portland, Oregon, and day trips to all the Portland attractions can easily be made from local campgrounds at this park.
The park is packed with dense forests and spectacular hiking trails. Mount Hood is an ice-capped stratovolcano that dominates the landscape. The Columbia River Gorge is situated on the north side and the park stretches south to the Mount Jefferson foothills, providing one million acres of wilderness area with plenty of recreational opportunities, and amazing natural scenery.
Enjoy the park in the summer, or the winter, when downhill skiing aficionados will not be disappointed by the many wonderful ski resorts in the region. Mount Hood National Park is one of the most popular national forests in the US, attracting four million visitors annually.
Camp at Trillium campground which has great views of the Mount Hood Volcano, and 52 tent and RV sites. RVs up to 40 feet can be accommodated. There are no hookups, but there are vault toilets and drinking water supplies.
The Lost Lake Campground has views of Mount Hood's glaciers and proximity to the Old Growth Boardwalk. RVs up to 32 feet in length are accommodated at this campground which is open from May to October.
The Spring Drive RV campground offers full hookups and is open from April to September. Self-contained RV units only are permitted, there are no restrooms or communal drinking water supplies, and no tent camping. Eight sites accommodate RVs of up to 50 feet in length. Reservations are recommended at all Mount Hood National Forest campgrounds.
Route 97 will take you north through Bend, Oregon, where the High Desert Museum is situated. Families will find plenty of kid-friendly activities at this interactive desert museum. Experience close-up encounters with wildlife, participate in fun camps, and enjoy hands-on experiences.
You will see river otters play, and discover porcupines and owls, or you can visit the Desertarium where local, native, cold-blooded creatures are on display.
The High Desert Museum is set on a 135-acre property, and exhibits live animals, historical artifacts, and artworks. Guides dressed in historic costumes share tales of the lives of settlers and explorers in “Old West '' Oregon. You can visit an authentic Oregon homestead and sawmill from 1904, and learn about Native American culture and history in the region.
Check out their schedule at High Desert Museum Schedule, for hours, and to see what exciting educational programs are available at the museum during your visit.
As you pass north through Weed, California, a quick detour east to Lava Beds National Monument is in order, to investigate the caves and volcanic formations. From Weed, take Route 161 east, at Ainsworth Corner turn south on Hill Road which becomes the Volcanic Scenic Byway running north from Shasta-Trinity Forest, an alternate route.
The Lava Beds National Monument features over 600 lava tube caves spanning 28 miles, and they are open all year round. The Mushpot cave is lighted, and several caves which are rated as easy and good for families with younger children, are located off the Cave Loop Road. You can also investigate Petroglyph Point which is one of the largest North American Rock Art sites in the U.S.
The visitor center at the park provides bump hats, flashlights, and lanterns which you will need to explore the wonderful lava tube caves. Visitors should wear boots with good traction and support. The Lava Beds sites do not have fuel services or amenities and travelers should ensure they are stocked up before proceeding to these wilderness areas.
Continuing up Interstate 5, north of Reddings, CA, you will pass through the Shasta-Trinity National Forests which are famous for their scenic byway drives. You can take in the park from the comfort of a climate-controlled vehicle as you pass through, or get out and explore!
The park consists of five wilderness areas, which together form the State of California's largest national forest at 2,210,485 acres. The Shasta-Trinity National Forests contain hundreds of small mountain lakes, and miles of streams, and rivers, for boating, fishing, and swimming. Cycling and hiking opportunities are also plentiful in the park which miles of trails to discover. Keep an eye out for wildlife like bears, coyotes, and foxes.
Camp at Antlers Campground, just off Interstate 5, which is situated on a bluff above a lake. This campground has 59 sites on flat and level ground with plenty of shade trees. Sites include a bear box to store food. The campground accommodates RVs up to 30 feet in length and has both flush and vault toilets and drinking water. Reservations are available and recommended.
As you continue north on Interstate 5, take a short detour on the Lincoln Highway, east of Sacramento to the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area for an incredible scenic natural area with plenty of activities and campgrounds. The recreation area is located in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains and boasts views of the mountain range, open grasslands, and the Folsom and Natoma Reservoirs.
The park and campgrounds are only 25 miles from the city of Sacramento, which makes a great day trip with numerous historic sites, parks, shopping, and dining. Folsom Lake State Recreation Area features miles of excellent hiking trails and shorelines for your kids to roam, and you can head out on the reservoir lakes for fishing and boating during your stay.
Be sure to visit the Folsom Powerhouse, which dates back to 1885. View vintage power generating equipment, and learn about the extensive canal system that supplied the generating plant. During the summer months, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat, as it is very hot in the area.
Camp at Beals Point Campground which is situated just north of the town of Folsom and Folsom dam, and is open year-round. This campground has 19 sites accommodating RVs up to 31 feet, with full hookups, restrooms, and showers. The Peninsula Campground at the north end of the lake has 100 sites for RVs up to 31 feet in length.
As you head north and west, you will pass through Santa Clarita, California. Don't leave the area without first visiting the Mountasia Family Fun Center. If you have kids in tow, this will be a special treat.
This center features video games, go-karts, a rock climbing wall, bumper boats, miniature golf, batting cages, laser tag, and a vintage arcade gaming room. Don't forget the ice cream parlor for a special treat before heading out. There are some age and size restrictions for certain attractions, and children under 8 should be supervised by an adult. Check out their web site at Mountasia Fun Center for details on pricing, rules and restrictions, hours, and activities.
If you decide to camp in the Santa Clarita region, you will find excellent RV camping at the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area. The campground here provides dry camping with 60 sites and proximity to the lake. Reservations are required and should be made at least three days prior to your stay.
Once you arrive in Spokane, Washington, the family fun can continue. There is plenty of outdoor recreation, shopping, entertainment, and historical, art, and cultural sites in this hip city. Riverfront Park on the Spokane River features a carousel, sculptures, a children's parks, and a skyride. During the winter, enjoy the skate ribbon, and free open-air entertainment occurs during the summer months.
Camping is available just northwest of the city at Riverside State Park, not to be confused with Riverfront Park! The Bowl and Pitcher Campground here has 16 RV sites with hookups. The Nine Mile Recreation Area Campground has 21 RV sites with hookups, and a shower house, as well as a beach, and is open from May to September. Lake Spokane Campground has RV sites with electric and water hookups and is within close proximity of the lake. Alternatively you can camp east of the city at Liberty Lake Recreation Area, where there is a swim beach ideal for children, and play equipment as well as the 8.3 mile Liberty Lake Loop Trail.