That tiny town nestled in a mountain valley on the sunny side of Washington's
North Cascades, bounded by two lakes, and embraced by state and national forests. It is a unique community in the heart of Okanogan County.
This fairly remote and picturesque little town used to be the county seat.
Its Indian name actually means beautiful land of the bunch grass flats.
The blue lake surrounded by mountains is the main attraction. In the winter, this is a prime destination for snowmobile enthusiasts.
In spring and fall, it’s a pristine retreat where fishing is prime and the sun skips off the lake onto the evergreen hillsides.
A Four Season Destination
located just miles from U.S.
Highway 97. There is a lot of old west history here. Historical frontier towns, and old mining camps.
You can even pan for gold yourself! A short drive through the nearby hills may bring you to an abandoned mine or the "China Wall,"
the foundation for what was to have been an ore processing facility during the mining boom.
The Okanogan features four seasons of fun for the outdoor enthusiast. Long a mecca for lovers of the outdoors,
the Okanogan is also cherished by photographers and other artists who are inspired by the scenery and wildlife.
In the winter you can enjoy the snow covered peaks and rolling hills. Explore the area's snow parks, downhill and cross country skiing,
snow shoeing, ice-fishing, hunting, trapping, hiking, sledding and more.
In the summertime, the hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams tempt boaters, rafters, kayakers, campers, hikers and fishermen.
With over 300+ sunny days annually, you can experience rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, back packing,
and camping are available from March through October.
Destinations such as Grand Coulee Dam, Lake Chelan, the North Cascades and southern British Columbia all offer easy day trips.
Hikes, Drives and things
- Ruby Loop Conconully, WA (Off-Highway Drives)
The foothills east of the Cascade Range occupy a transition zone, where dry, rolling, nearly treeless steppes meet the vast conifer forests of the well-watered western side of the state. The silver mines that spawned the late 19th-century boomtown of Ruby have long been idle, but the rugged landscape remains a mix of high ridges, steep canyons, grassy meadows, and stands of aspen that promise late-summer or early-autumn color. Rubble piles, water-filled pits, and rocky little roads that are quite different from the logging roads one finds elsewhere in the state are about all that remain of the region’s mining legacy. Easy, with some steep, narrow and rocky segments that will require high clearance if not 4WD. Note: Old mine sites are dangerous; use caution.
- Beaver Lake Trail Mowich Illahee, WA (Hiking)
Enjoy an easy hike to a pretty little lake in the little-known Loup Loup region of the Okanogan. The only sizeable body of water in the 28,000-acre Granite Mountain Roadless Area, Beaver sits in a small forested bowl a mile above sea level. Here on the eastern extremes of the North Cascades, the sun shines long and hard. Beaver Lake invites foot and full-body soaking, a nice reprieve from the summer heat.
- Golden Stairway Trail Conconully, WA (Hiking)
Hike an old sheep drive high into the roadless Granite Mountain hinterlands. Along the way traverse lonely meadows bursting with wildflowers. Take in views of the Okanogan Highlands and some of the least-known and hiked peaks in the state. The Conconully Reservoir sparkles below, set against rolling golden hills on the eastern edge of the North Cascades.
- Buck Mountain Loop Conconully, WA (Off-Highway Drives)
This short but immensely rewarding side trip off S.R. 20 takes you to a 6,135-foot peak on the eastern slope of the Cascade Range. The views of the region where Washington’s dry eastern expanse meets the forested mountains is outstanding. But of course, as with all lookout sites, the best views are from the summit, where the state maintains a 20-foot-tall lookout for emergency use. Unfortunately, access to the tower, built in 1961, is restricted to Washington Department of Natural Resources personnel. This is an easy-to-moderate 4WD route, although it becomes fairly rough, steep and narrow along the final 1.5 miles or so. I recommend using low-range 4WD. There is one tight switchback that you may have to take in two moves.
- Baldy Pass Conconully, WA (Off-Highway Drives)
You will travel along the Chewuch River, where salmon can be seen spawning in August, then climb into rugged mountains for spectacular vistas from Baldy Pass (6,515 feet) and the lookout on First Butte (5,491 feet). Easy, on a mix of single-lane dirt-and-gravel and asphalt roads. Watch for logging trucks. The road is usually open May-October.
- Sinlahekin Wildlife Area Tonasket, WA (Birding)
You have to work to get to the Sinlahekin River Valley, but the variety of habitats and tranquil, panoramic views of quaking aspen, water birch, and ponderosa pine against craggy ancient cliffs will reward you for your efforts. The narrow valley may be one of the best-kept birding secrets in the state, since it is an under-birded site for all that it has to offer. Several lakes, some bounded by wetlands and emergent vegetation and some with rocky shores and deep centers, host nesting and migrating waterfowl; the forested habitat along the creek and the thickets along the shores of the lakes attract passerines; and the grasslands separating the other habitats draw hawks, Golden Eagles, and falcons. Ample stocks of game birds bring hunters to the area each fall. Habitats: Mixed forest, cliffs, prairie, riparian, lakes. Specialty birds: Common Loon; Tundra Swan; Greater Scaup; Barrow’s Goldeneye; Golden and Bald Eagles; Northern Goshawk; Swainson’s Hawk; Gyrfalcon; Chukar; Sandhill Crane; Long-billed Curlew; Short-eared and Northern Pygmy-Owls; Vaux’s Swift; Blackchinned, Calliope, and Rufous Hummingbirds; Lewis’s and Pileated Woodpeckers; Williamson’s and Red-naped Sapsuckers; Hammond’s, Dusky, and Pacific-slope Flycatchers; Cassin’s Vireo; Pygmy Nuthatch; Western Bluebird; Bohemian Waxwing; Common Redpoll.