The Okanogan National Forest (o-ka-na'-gun), of the Okanogan and
Wenatchee National Forests, is located in northern Washington and
is comprised of 1,499,870 acres. It touches Canada on the north,
North Cascades National Park on the west and Colville National Forest
on the east. There are 39 developed campgrounds of which 18 meet the selection criteria.
Between the gentle profile of the ancient mountains of eastern
Washington and the rugged towering peaks of the newer Cascade
mountains near the Pacific Ocean, are the Okanogan and Methow
valleys. The Okanogan National Forest (NF), lining these
valleys, offers lots of recreation, particularly trails and back
country opportunities, with nearby developed
campgrounds for extended stays. One feature of the Okanogan NF,
perhaps known best to the locals, is the amount of sun it
receives. While winters are bright, with crisp temperatures,
summer is also sunny but dry and can be very warm. Such weather
is a pleasant reward for visitors from the cool, foggy Pacific
As temperatures rise, campers head for the delights of the "Five
Lakes" in the Okanogan Highlands area and Lost Lake and Bonaparte
Lake campgrounds. It might be hard to believe, while driving
through the rolling golden hills of this section of Route 20, but
between Republic and Tonasket, there are pockets of magnificent
forests a short drive a way. The 80-acre Bonaparte Lake, surrounded
by towering pines, also offers a variety of fish and a pleasant campground.
It is Bonaparte campground where most campers stop but for a delightful
forest experience, visitors should drive a little further to Lost Lake
campground. Near a 50-acre lake, this campground features a
variety of hiking and mountain bike trails, the adjacent Big Tree
Botanical area, and a tranquil feel.
Out of Twisp, WA is the pretty Twisp River Valley leading to the
Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Valley Wilderness. Along the way are some
great views, challenging hikes, and some delightful campgrounds.
They say the long narrow Twisp River Valley is the "best kept
secret" in the forest but more and more visitors are discovering
the delights of this peaceful place.
War Creek, the closest campground to Twisp, is the first one up
the Twisp River Valley; it has a well-used and often visited
feel. At the opposite end of the Valley with fewer visitors and a
more rustic appearance, is Twisp River Horse Camp. Many of the
Okanogan NF's 800 miles of horse trails and the wonders of the
Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, can be accessed from Twisp River
Horse Camp. Between these two campgrounds is the little Poplar
Flat campground. Not as rustic as the horse camp nor as tired
looking as War Creek campground, Poplar Flat offers campers easy
access to Twisp River and a quiet forest experience.
Winthrop, WA, a primary community in the Methow Valley, provides
access to both the Chewuch River Valley and the North Cascade
Scenic Highway section of Rt 20. The North Cascade Scenic
Highway is one of the most spectacular drives in the United
States and the Okanogan NF maintains several sweet little
campgrounds along the way for travelers. These campgrounds
are good for overnight stays but also function as a base camp
for those who want to explore the areas many trails and sights
Heading west along Rt 20, Early Winters campground is the first
and at the lowest elevation of these NF campgrounds. Campers who
stop at this campground can enjoy a basic forest camping
experience as well as hiking or mountain biking along one of
several community-maintained trails. (Contact Methow Valley
Sports Trail Association at www.mvsta.com for more information.)
Next comes Klipchuck campground. Largest of the campgrounds
along Rt 20, Klipchuck is known for its birdwatching
opportunities, fearless deer, and a couple of delightful trails.
Lone Fir is the closest campground to the North Cascade National
Park, most densely wooded of the three campgrounds and offers
campers a peaceful atmosphere to enjoy their time in the Okanogan
The Chewuck River Valley may be one of the least visited
developed areas in the forest. With old pine forests, good
wildlife viewing, and nearby Pasayten Wilderness, the area awaits
discovery. Flat, stretching along Eight Mile Creek, is a lovely
little campground that provides an area for tent and car campers
away from those recreation vehicle (RV) campers. Farther up the
Valley is the delightful Chewuch campground. Right next to the
Chewuch River, this campground also features a separate camping
areas for RV, car and tent campers. While Flat campground has a
tight, cozy feel to it, Chewuch campground has an airy, spacious
appearance with towering Jeffrey pines providing ample shade.
The Okanogan National Forest thinks it is "one of the nicest
surprises in the Pacific Northwest." Hiding in the mountains
surrounding the Okanogan and Methow valleys and away from the
more urban developed areas, people will be surprised by its
craggy peaks, rolling meadows, old growth forests, and new stands
of Ponderosa pine. State Route 20 provides an easy way to travel
through the Forest. But it's the campgrounds and many trails
that provide visitors an up-close-and-personal view of this
little Forest most have never heard of and fewer have discovered.
There is so much to see and do in Okanogan NF. You are invited
to come and see if you agree.
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, Washington 98801
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
24 West Chewuch Rd.
Winthrop, Washington 98862
Okanogan Valley Office
1240 South Second Ave.
Okanogan, Washington 98840
1 West Winesap
Tonasket, Washington 98855