Okanogan County Forest Facts
The 1,706,000-acreOkanogan National Forest, located in northern Washington, includes the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness. Vegetation in the forest varies with grass and shrubs in the lowest elevations near the Columbia River, to the beautiful ponderosa pine at mid-elevations, to the Douglas-fir in the Cascade Mountains, and the subalpine and alpine zones at elevations above 6000 feet. The highest peak is North Gardner Mountain at 8974 feet, with many other peaks above 7000 feet. Moderate daytime temperatures and cool nights characterize the climate during the summer; during the winter, sub-zero night-time temperatures are not unusual, but days are frequently sunny.
The Okanogan National Forest has many small campgrounds and approximately 1,600 miles of mountain trails. The area is famous for its mule deer herds, sports fisheries in the various lakes and streams, and acres and acres of backcounty to traverse.
Okanogan county has become a major cross-country skiing and snowmobiling center. Over 150 km of ski trails in the Methow Valley have been developed and are maintained as a partnership with the Methow Valley Sport Trail Association. Over 300 miles of forest roads become snowmobile tracks in winter with grooming costs paid by Washington State snowmobile registration fees. The Loup Loup Ski Bowl, off State Route 20, west of Okanogan, attracts many alpine and cross-country skiers. A small Alpine ski facility, Sitzmark, is outside the national forest near Tonasket, Washington. Nordic and Alpine heli-skiing is also available in the Methow Valley.
The Washington Pass Scenic Overlook along the North Cascades Scenic Highway 20 gives a spectacular view of massive Liberty Bell Mountain (7790 elevation) and Early Winters Spires. Interpretive information is available at a small visitor centers during the summer months. There are picnic tables, restroom facilities, and a paved trail, all designed for wheelchair use. The highway is usually open from late April through early November; the overlook is accessible from June to October.
The western boundary of the forest borders the North Cascades National Park, and the Ross Lake National Recreation Area. To the south is the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area and the Wenatchee National Forest. To the north, in the Canadian Province of British Columbia, are Cathedral and Manning provincial parks. Both immediately adjacent to the Pasayten Wilderness. Permits are necessary in the North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake Recreational Area if you stay overnight.
Due east of the national forest some 45 miles, via State Highway 155, is Grand Coulee Dam. This world-famous attraction has a visitor center and tours operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Information about the Okanogan National Forest is also provide there.
The Okanogan Highlands Museum and Old Molson are located in the former boomtown of Molson in the Okanogan Highlands 15 miles (by highway) east of Oroville.
This outstanding county museum is located in the county seat of Okanogan, WA., on Business Alternate Hwy. 97 connecting the downtown districts of Okanogan and Omak.
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