Park rangers hoping to limit cars at local sites to combat overflow

SPOKANE, Wash. — More people are getting outside during the pandemic, and Spokane parks are seeing the impact. 

Park Ranger Patti Wong says they’ve seen a 40 to 60 percent increase in cars coming to Riverside State Park. That includes the Little Spokane River natural area. 

“This morning, it was real busy,” said Brandon Bowen, who came with his son to the park to kayak. “We got here at like 9 o’clock, and the parking lot was full when we got out here.” 

Dalynn Streicher noticed the same thing. 

“The last few times we’ve been out here hiking, there’s been like two or three cars, we don’t see anybody on the trails, so this was crazy when we pulled up,” said Streicher. 

For the Indian Painted Rocks Trailhead parking, there can only be around 20 to 25 cars parked there.

“If we run out of parking stalls, we can’t have people park illegally, like on the side of the road,” said Wong. 

That’s county jurisdiction, so Wong doesn’t have the authority to tell people they can’t park there. With too many cars in places where they shouldn’t be, it’s possible there could be an obstruction if an emergency were to occur.

She says people are speeding down the road, too, making it dangerous for families trying to cross. 

Wong’s job is to educate people and enforce the rules, like reminding people tubes aren’t allowed in the Little Spokane River. 

“They can’t get through because there are 7 or 8 people in a very narrow river it’s not the Spokane River where it’s 23-30 feet wide, you’re looking at a 10 or 15 foot wide river,” said Wong. 

She’s hoping the message will spread to keep people safe, especially with how busy it’s been. Wong reiterates that they are only limiting cars, not the amount of people accessing the park. However, people should still maintain social distancing when out recreating.

READ: Spokane Parks and Rec. now limiting park capacity at Liberty Lake Park to slow COVID-19 spread