Description - The 1,706,000 acre Okanogan National Forest 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 1,706,000 acre Okanogan National Forest includes the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness. The highest peak is North Gardner Mountain at 8974 feet, with many other peaks above 7000 feet.
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. The highway is closed during the winter months.
Recreation - Winter or summer, the Okanogan National Forest offers a variety of recreation activities. In winter the Forest is famous for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. In the summer, the mountains and rivers provide pleasant places to hike, bike, river raft, camp, and fish.
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 backcountry 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. 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.
Climate - Precipitation, which comes mainly as snow, varies from approximately 80 inches per year along the Cascade Crest to a low of 10 inches along the Okanogan Valley. Scattered lightening storms pass frequently over the forest from mid-July to early September. Sunny, clear weather is typical during the summer and fall, with high temperatures in Okanogan Valley usually in the high 80's, and night time temperatures cooling to high 50's In the elevations above 5,000 feet, the August temperatures run from highs in the mid 70's to the lows in the high 40's. Winter storms usually close NF system roads above elevations of 4,500 feet by mid December. Winter snow depths range from 10-12 feet near Cascade Crest, to several feet in the lower Okanogan Valley.
The Okanogan is located in the North Cascades of Washington State. The Forest is headquartered in the town of Okanagan, Washington. The Okanagan Valley and US Highway 97 divide the east and west portions of the Forest. State Highway 20 runs east to west through the Forest.
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. Due east of the national forest some 45 miles, via State Highway 155, is the famous Grand Coulee Dam.