Okanogan County is Cowboy Country
Reminders of the old west surround you when you make your way north on and around Route 97 through Okanogan County. Take a road trip and drive along trade routes once travelled by Native Americans, cattlemen and gold prospectors. Cattle ranches and historic sites alternate with fruit stands and the northern wineries of the Columbia Cascade wine region. At the town of Oroville, near the Canada/USA border, drive south east and explore the Many Lakes Loop. Like ghost towns and rodeos? The Historic Highlands Loop is a picturesque drive that takes you back through history. Travel Route 97 on the Three County Corridor between Wenatchee and Oroville for dynamic geographic diversity.
Camera Worthy Natural Habitats
Okanogan County is deep in the great Pacific Flyaway. It’s one of the best regions to bird watch, particularly during spring and fall migrations. Watch the Osprey fishing area rivers and lakes. Look up and marvel at the majesty of the great American Bald Eagle as it soars overhead. Keep your eyes peeled for Blue Grouse, Mountain Bluebirds, and the orange and yellow plumage of the Western Tanager. Birds, mule deer, black bears, and Bighorn sheep can be spied throughout the region. You’ll find most of them at the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area and Conconully State Park.
Follow the sloping shoulders of Columbia Plateau as it shrugs skyward toward the jagged peaks of the North Cascade Mountains to the west. Blue skies feel wide open here. Route 97 meanders beside the Okanogan River from Omak until it flows into Lake Pateros and the Columbia River. At Pateros, there’s more to discover where the Columbia and Methow rivers meet.
Omak Stampede and Indian Encampment
Travel through Tonasket, the Colville Indian Reservation, and Omak, home of the legendary Omak Stampede and Suicide Race. Cowboy up is a phrase you’ll often hear in horse country. In August in Okanogan County, those two words mean one thing. It’s time for the Omak Stampede and Colville Confederated Tribes Indian Encampment and Pow Wow! Make time in your schedule (and make campsite or hotel reservations in advance) for the annual event and its colourful, cultural pageantry.
Find Your Trail
Over 4,800 km (3,000 mi) of trails zig and zag through Okanogan County. There are 200 km (120 mi) in the Methow Valley that create the nation’s largest Nordic trail system. Trails that once led prospectors with golden dreams north to the Cariboo Gold Rush still offer rich rewards. Spend days or weeks exploring the forests and valleys of the North Cascades.
These trails are accessible in all seasons. You can hike, mountain bike, ride horseback, go cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Up on Sun Mountain, 1,000 feet above the valley floor, you’ll find more than 60 km (45 mi) of trails.
Ride Like the Wind
Watch the ever-shifting landscape unfold from behind your handlebars. Okanogan County is a favorite destination for bikers of all kinds: mountain, road or motorcycle. Low humidity, technical terrain, and scenic routes spur off from Route 97. You’ll find winding flat top and gravel back roads. Explore single track trails in the alpine. Finding your perfect ride is as easy as swapping out your car keys for a bike helmet and asking the locals where to ride.
Follow SR20 west on your touring bike or motorcycle. Breathe in the fresh, clean air infused with the scent of alfalfa and hay meadows. Spin past sprawling ranches where corralled horses whinny in welcome as you pass by. This route ribbons through the Methow Valley where scenic views beg you to take their picture.
If your idea of the best bike ride involves dirt trails crisscrossing through quiet forests and alpine fields of wildflowers and grasses, you’re in luck. Ride serene, riverside trails with the family, or saddle up and climb. Logging roads deliver you to the alpine. Once there, the terrain and views vie for your attention.
Explore by RV, car, truck, horseback, bike, or snowmobile. There are plenty of back roads and trails to explore once you pull off Route 97. Let your curiosity fuel you on a side trip down the road less travelled. Short road trips in this area are plentiful. One may lead you to Nighthawk, a ghost town beneath the Canadian border. Another will take you east to the Grand Coulee Dam and its summer laser light show. Head west into the Methow Valley and visit the old west town of Winthrop.
The green pastures and fruit trees throughout the valley floor contrast with the rugged cliffs and glacial features. Explore vineyards and orchards and discover wineries, craft breweries, and cider houses. There are three road trips off Route 97 in Okanogan County: Many Lakes road trip, Historic Highlands road trip, and the Colville Tribes road trip.
Need to Know:
|Distance Pateros to Oroville:||126km/78mi|
|Duration to drive:||Minimum two to three hours|
|Best time to drive:||Year round|
Brewster Chamber of Commerce
Colville Confederated Tribes
Conconully Chamber of Commerce
Elmer City Visitor Center
505 Seaton Ave
Elmer City, WA
Methow Valley Community Visitor Information Center
Omak Chamber of Commerce
Molson Museum (Oroville)
915 Nine Mile Road
Phone: (not available)
Oroville Chamber of Commerce
Pateros City Hall
Republic Regional Visitors & Convention Bureau
Riverside Visitor Information Center
102 Main Street
Shafer Museum (Winthrop)
Tonasket Visitor & Business Resource Center
Twisp Chamber of Commerce
Winthrop Visitor Center
Winthrop Forest Service
24 Chewuch Road