U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Okanogan National Forest


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Forest Information

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 coast.

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 more closely.

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 NF.

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.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 215 Melody Lane Wenatchee, Washington 98801 509-664-9200 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Methow Valley 24 West Chewuch Rd. Winthrop, Washington 98862 509-996-4003 Okanogan Valley Office 1240 South Second Ave. Okanogan, Washington 98840 509-826-3275 Tonasket 1 West Winesap Tonasket, Washington 98855 509-486-2186

Fred and Suzi Dow