Welcome to the scenic Okanogan Valley. Head east or west out of Oroville, WA from Hwy 97 and you will find yourself on scenic back roads, curvy for the motorcyclists, little-traveled for the bicyclists and near Okanogan hiking trails that will take you all the way from Kalispell to Seattle. This bio-diverse region is teaming with wildlife and is also a favorite destination for birders. It is a land of lakes, popular for water sports, and rivers where the fish are usually jumpin.’
If you bring your passport, there’s even more to see and do in this region of plenty. Where Washington’s Okanogan Valley ends, British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley begin. The international border is just four miles north of Oroville.
Okanogan motorcycle tours travel through our region. The largest rally takes place in May when Oroville welcomes riders from north and south of the border for its Rally at the Border Blues Fest. Bikers come here to avoid the crowded roads elsewhere and to enjoy curves and pristine scenery. We’ve mapped several Northern Okanogan motorcycle routes to help them find the best and most scenic of our roads. For motorcycle routes, click here.
Okanogan mountain biking is blissful for the same reasons. Though shoulders are narrow in spots, the traffic-free roads and plentiful small camping areas that dot our shorelines make for a memorable experience in this Okanogan mountain biking region still being discovered.
Word of Northern Okanogan trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding is spreading too. Here you’ll find the 7-mile Similkameen Trail west of Oroville and a segment of the Pacific Northwest Trail that extends from Hwy 20 past Lake Bonaparte into Oroville picked up at the Whistler Canyon trailhead south of town. The Okanogan Highlands are filled with day-hike routes and further east, the multi-use Ferry County Rail Trail Corridor stretches 28 miles, including 24.8 miles north from Republic to Danville and south from Republic along the Golden Tiger Pathway for three miles.
The Sporting Life
The region welcomes sports enthusiasts year-round. Oroville is located just north of the confluence of the Similkameen and Okanogan rivers and surrounded by lakes on all sides. If you like to water ski, jet-ski, fish, kayak or just paddle around, you will find water to your liking. Hunters flock here for a range of species including deer and elk. We have plenty of trails for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and a family-size ski hill. And for golfers, we have a beautiful 9-hole course in Oroville and several 18-hole courses in British Columbia all within a few miles.
Though not as well mapped as the State’s other Washington birding routes, species are plentiful, found both near civilization and up in the meadows and forests of the Okanogan Highlands. Spring, summer and fall, groups of eager, quiet visitors may be found huddled behind mammoth camera lenses and binoculars looking for species common and rare. Big horn sheep, mule and white-tailed deer are common and you may encounter elk or a more elusive moose, bear or cougar.
Okanogan Regional History
History buffs find much to explore in the Okanogan. Many of the region’s homesteading buildings still stand in the Okanogan Highlands, preserved by the region’s dry climate. Buildings and towns abandoned when gold rush prospectors moved on may be seen, and since they didn’t find it all, there is still some left, should you decide to try panning. Some of the historic ghost towns Washington is known for are here including tiny hill town cemeteries to explore.
The Okanogan outdoors is a memory-making setting for a family vacation. With lakes for swimming and boating, rivers to fish, horses to ride, rodeos, ghost towns like Molson and so many places to explore and camp, kids of all ages love Northern Okanogan family vacations.
Wineries and Micro Breweries
A small but growing wine region on our side of the border and Canada’s major wine region just four miles north of Oroville, WA make the Northern Okanogan/Southern Okanagan a travel destination for increasing numbers of foodies. Between Omak and Oroville you’ll find four Okanogan wineries and across the border dozens more, some with restaurants and lodgings, within the 14 miles between Osoyoos and Oliver. Oroville is also home to one of Washington’s oldest craft breweries and another is located in Oliver, BC. All offer tastings and regular events.
Knowing the ins and outs of crossing the Washington state and Canada border before traveling to the Northern Okanogan avoids glitches.
Learn more about border crossing United States Canada between Washington and British Columbia.
To schedule your Okanogan travel, here is what’s coming up at the Pastime as well as the region.
The Pastime Bar and Grill would like to thank Ruby Ragsdale
for the use of her beautiful Okanogan scenery photos