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Another goal for 2022: visit 92 Spokane parks and 10 conservation areas by October.

Shouldn’t be too difficult, right? We’re already 11 parks in and we’ve only had this goal for two days.

What’s the deal? Bella and I are participating in the Great Spokane Parks Challenge. Sponsored by Spokane Parks Foundation and Spokane City Credit Union, the challenge aims to get us out visiting all the incredible parks our county has to offer.

And no, I had no idea there were so many!

beach volleyball courts at Browns Park in Spokane Valley
Cool beach volleyball courts at Browns Park in Spokane Valley

When you register for the challenge, you get a dashboard on the SCCU website that allows you to check in to each park you visit, uploading a photo (selfie or general location) and comments about your visit.

And pssssst … the first 70 people who visit 24 parks before the challenge concludes on October 6 receive a day pack full of stuff. What I didn’t know is that this challenge has been going since October 7, 2021, and only 12 people have completed the prize-winning task so far.

I’m game!

Touring 11 Spokane parks in two days

Don’t be too impressed that we visited that many parks in two days.

We covered all the Spokane Valley parks first, getting a huge chunk out of the way. We — and by “we,” I mean me because I haven’t taught Bella to drive yet — drove about 20 miles in total, which really isn’t that much, and did in about three and a half hours over two days.

graffiti rocks at Valley Mission Park in Spokane Valley
Graffiti rocks at Valley Mission Park

The ultimate goal, of course, is to find new locations for dog photography sessions. Of the 11 parks we visited yesterday, two are solid options.

One is an old standby.

Here’s all 11 that we’ve visited so far for the Great Spokane Parks Challenge:

  1. Mirabeau Point Park
  2. Discovery Park
  3. Sullivan Park
  4. Terrace View Park
  5. Browns Park
  6. Balfour Park
  7. Castle Park
  8. Edgecliff Park
  9. Park Road Pool
  10. Valley Mission
  11. Valley Mission Dog Park

Most of these are great places to take the family for a picnic. They have large greenspaces, picnic shelters and playgrounds. Most are dog-friendly parks; only the Discovery Playground is canina non grata.

A couple, like Valley Mission and Terrace View, have huge grassy and wooded areas but they just don’t have the diversity of backgrounds that I like for your professional dog photos.

Valley Mission, by the way, is one of the best darn spots I’ve ever seen for winter sledding. Look at the hill behind Bella:

Valley Mission Park sledding hill
Valley Mission Park

The two finalists of the 11 parks we visited this week are:

1. Sullivan Park

I was happily surprised by Sullivan Park. In full transparency, we’d visited this area before — can’t remember whether it was last year or 2020 — and I left with great hesitation to ever take a client there.

The park is adjacent to the Hank Perry RC park and the Western Dance Center. The wooded area behind the dance center when I last visited was occupied by a homeless encampment.

Bella at Sullivan Park for the Great Spokane Parks Challenge
Sullivan Park woods

As Bella and I wandered around the trail, a few members of the encampment were out and about. One appeared disoriented and edgy. I felt unsafe, especially carrying my camera gear.

We didn’t stick around.

Our visit on Wednesday was much different. The encampment is gone and the park appeared to be cleaned up.

Bella on a rock at Sullivan Park in Spokane Valley
On a rock at Sullivan Park

It’s a lovely spot with rocks to up-up on for a good Power Pose and trails that wind through the woods and down to the Spokane River for a little water play.

I’d happily book a session at Sullivan Park.

2. Mirabeau Point Park

If you’re a regular to this blog, you know this is a big fat duh. Bella and I are at Mirabeau Point Park almost as often as we’re at Dishman Hills Conservancy Area.

Not too long ago, I even wrote about why Mirabeau Point Park is a great place for dog portrait sessions.

Maremma sheepdog on Spokane Valley rocks
#dogsonrocks at Mirabeau Park

Aaaaaand I’m holding a day of mini sessions there on Saturday, April 16, as part of my Paws of the Inland Northwest book project. The 30-minute sessions are only $100 and part of your session becomes a donation to the Spokane Humane Society.

There will be dogs with a beautiful green background, dogs on rocks, dogs in Power Poses, dogs playing in the Spokane River and dogs with that one epic piece of scenery.

It’s going to be a blast. Don’t miss your chance to be involved in this unique project and immortalize your dog in the pages of a gorgeous coffeetable book.

Next on the checklist

You know I’m a bit of a keener, right?

(Keener: Canadianism for “nerd that needs to be at the top of the class, a teacher’s pet)

I’ve divided the map of Spokane parks listed in the challenge into areas. The parks in Spokane Valley were easy-peasy, since that’s our home base.

Caveat: We haven’t gotten to Myrna Park, which is a bit of a hoof away from the rest of the parks in the Valley, but we will get there.

Our next stop on the map is the South Hill, which includes another old favorite, Manito Park.

We’ll be attempting to visit 19 Spokane parks in one day. Yep, I said nineteen.

I know. I’m nuts.

Especially with the price of gas these days.

All around the circle

For this week’s blog circle, my fellow pet photographers are highlighting a park that’s new or special to them for their portrait sessions.

I only learned of the Great Spokane Parks Challenge earlier this week and I knew it was a great topic for “a” park that’s new to me. Why not visit 11 parks in two days and see if I can’t find something new?

And I did. Ish.

Now let’s jump into the circle and see some dog-friendly parks around the United States. My friend Courtney takes a walk at Three Chimneys in Cumming, GA, photographing two Tibetan Mastiffs and a rescue dog during this spring dog photography session.

Tibetan Mastiffs! Oh my dog, what beautiful beasts!

When you get to the bottom of Courtney’s post, click the next link in the circle and then keep going to magical places like Boston, Tampa and Vegas until you find yourself back here to our Great Spokane Parks Challenge.

That’s when you know you’re home.

Right where you belong. 

And don’t forget to book your Paws of the Inland Northwest session!


Dogs. Adventure. Outdoors. These words set Angela's heart afire. Angela Schneider, an award-winning writer and dog photographer, documents the story of you and your dog and the adventures you take together. Your portraits will be a statement piece in your home, art that will make your friends and family beg to hear its story.

4 thoughts on “Spokane parks: Why we’re visiting 102 parks by October”

  1. How fun! I suspect a lot more people are going to know about the challenge after this post, but good luck being in the first group of 24! I’m sure you’re going to find lots of new locations as a result of the project too; win/win!

  2. What a fun challenges! AND prizes? Amazing! Beautiful images of Bella. I know she must be excited for the challenge, too! Good luck with the sessions on the 16th and have fun!

  3. Good start! Good luck! We have a ‘hiking spree’ during the “winter” here in Hillsborough County….and I found out there are a lot of parks here too! But, I never managed to finish the challenge and they do it every year. So – I’m sending you good vibes, luck, whatever it takes for you to complete your journey!

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