The Ponderosa Region spans the northeast corner of Washington state and is home to millions of acres of protected forests, as well as Spokane, the second biggest city in the state. The Columbia, the Kettle, the Colville, and the Pend Oreille rivers rush through both National Forest and the Colville Confederated Reservation. A truly wild part of our state, sites of historical significance are around every turn, with unique small communities scattered sparingly. Don’t miss the ghost towns, old mining claims, and remnants of the original homesteads to be spotted throughout the countryside.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt created some of these protected lands in a move sometimes referred to as the “Midnight Forests.” Minutes before Congress’s legislation prohibited the president from creating more preserves, he designated 21 new forests and enlarged 11 existing ones. Sixteen million acres then went on to be added to these protected National Forests, conserving natural resources for generations to come and enjoy years later.
One of the unique things in the region you might see are the old log flumes pressed against the rocky hillsides. Early logging operations used these flumes to float logs down to the river valleys as a more convenient mode of transportation. One of these log flume heritage sites is near Sherman Creek Campground; it is wheelchair accessible and complete with Interpretive signage.
A big attraction in this region are the ski areas, including Mount Spokane, 49° North, and Badger Mountain. Mount Spokane is a great place to visit all year long, with 100 miles of trails throughout its 12,293 acres. Within an hour’s drive from the city of Spokane, hikes to the peaks of Kit Carson, Day Mountain, and Mount Spokane offer spectacular views of the Spokane Valley, Idaho Panhandle, and north into Canada.
Exploring this region will put you in touch with all sorts of smaller local businesses, significant natural attractions, tons of recreation, opportunities to see diverse wildlife from caribou to mountain goats to moose, breathtaking vistas, photography destinations, and memories like none other. Add Northeast Washington to your next road trip checklist, the scenic byways and pit stops may make you want to extend your stay forever.