Arrow-right Camera

Stay and Play

This summer we’re reviving a popular feature from 2008: road trips around the Inland Northwest. Every week we’ll feature a new destination. Some will be tried and true favorites, and some will be a quirky and different. The destinations will be within a day’s drive, out and back, and featured attractions will be either free or very low cost. E-mail Pia Hallenberg with your ideas for future stories.

Metaline Falls holds yearly Affair on Main Street

The drive from Spokane to Metaline Falls is worth the trip on its own. Highway 20 will take you along the Pend Oreille River, between the mountains rising on both sides as the road twists and turns its way toward Canada. Along the river there are many smaller resorts, some with rooms, some open for camping and RVs.

Gardner Cave draws visitors from all over

If you’re already in Metaline Falls, there’s an underground treat waiting for you just a bit farther north. In Crawford State Park – which is so close to the Canadian border that you can walk there – you’ll find Gardner Cave. “We are kind of in the Siberia of the Washington parks system,” said Julia Mathison, interpretive assistant at the caves. “I don’t have a TV signal, I have no Internet, no cell phones work up here, I barely have radio, but I love it out here.”

Tour the Palouse

It’s harvest time on the Palouse. Almost anywhere you stop amid the rolling, golden wheat fields, you can hear the hum of combines and see the white harvest dust clouds rise on the horizon. Heavy grain trucks rumble by on narrow roads, tractors scramble back and forth, coolers sit in the shade of old trees. But there are many other things going on around the Palouse besides farming. Here’s a “Palouse loop” that includes art, great food, 100-year-old newspapers, a science center and a view that will take your breath away.

Bullfrog: It’s what’s for dinner

In the realm of delicious activities conducted after dark with a fishing rod, one obscure sport is leaps and bounds above the rest. Bullfrogging is a fully sanctioned “green” activity, endorsed by wildlife authorities to curb a non-native bully that’s wreaking havoc on native species in Northwest lakes and ponds.

Just for Kids: Dig up some creativity

There’s a big black guinea pig named King Kong, butterflies and snakes, turtles and fish, a handful of curious rats and a bird named Steve. They’ve all found a home at the Palouse Discovery Science Center in Pullman, some from rescue and one simply by showing up. “I got home one day, and I heard this twittering up in one of my trees,” Victoria Scalise, the center’s executive director, said of the day she met Steve. “And I looked up, and there he was. My son was going to climb up and get him, but when I held out my finger he simply landed on it and that was that.”

Refuge is for the birds, moose …

Charmaine Gural should have a bumper sticker that reads: “Brakes for snakes.” On a morning drive inside Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge south of Cheney, she carefully stopped, got out of her car and encouraged a snake to leave the warm gravel on the road. “They say there aren’t any rattlesnakes out here, but I don’t know,” she said, as she climbed back into her car.

Bus to the beach

When the mercury creeps upward almost as fast as gas prices, it’s pretty miserable to be stuck in the city. Everyone eventually wants to go to “the lake” for a swim, but what’s a person to do without a cabin, a car or an extra $50 for gas? Here’s an idea: Take the bus. It’s cheap, it’s easy to figure out and Spokane-area buses have air-conditioning. The easiest lake to reach is Medical Lake. Get on Route 62 at the downtown plaza, ride west for a good half hour, and it’ll drop you off right at the entrance to Waterfront Park.

Discover forest’s hidden fruits

It’s often said that the Inland Northwest has four distinct seasons. Which overlooks the obvious: Huckleberry season. And it’s on right now.

Rediscover Riverfront Park

There’s no mistaking the excited squeals that echo off the cement walls at the Riverfront Park Pavilion: the rides remain a summer hit. Sure, the park turned 30 years old this weekend, and from an adult’s perspective not much is new. But judging from the hordes of sunscreen-scented kids that run from ride to ride, that really doesn’t matter. Lines still form at the bumper cars, the tiny little train and the scary black Spider.