DescriptionExtending from the Canadian border to the Goat Rocks Wilderness area south of White Pass, and from North Cascades National Park and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area to the Yakama Nation Reservation, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest covers 3,906,000 acres. Smaller sections are east of Oroville and Tonasket. Farther to the north is Pasayten Wilderness, encompassing 529,607 acres. The Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness covers 145,667 acres.
The main access routes from the north and south are US 2 and US 97, and from the east and west by the North Cascades Highway (SR 20), the forest's outstanding scenic drive. The highway connects Winthrop and Marblemount and is open late April through early November (weather permitting). The Washington Pass Scenic Overlook, 32 miles west of Winthrop, offers a short loop trail to an overlook at an elevation of 5,500 feet, where there are picnic sites as well as a visitor information center.
A narrow gravel road leads to Slate Peak, 19 miles northwest of Mazama. Reaching an elevation of 7,400 feet, the road offers a panorama of the North Cascades. The road, leading to the highest elevation in the state accessible by automobile, is open from July until the first snowfall; it is not suitable for trailers.
Recreational activities include winter sports, hunting, fishing and rockhounding. Trails include 200 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, which runs from the Canadian border to the forest's southern border. The trail is generally free of snow August through September. Also on the North Cascades Highway is the Rainy Lake Trail at Rainy Pass. This paved 1-mile trail is open July through September.
Parts of eight wilderness areas lie within the forest: Pasayten in the north; Alpine Lakes, Glacier Peak, Henry M. Jackson and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth in the central portion; and Goat Rocks, Norse Peak and William O. Douglas in the south. Overnight permits are required in the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
The Summit at Snoqualmie consists of a cluster of four ski areas off I-90 on both sides of Snoqualmie Pass. Mission Ridge Ski Area is 13 miles southwest of Wenatchee; White Pass ski area, off US 12, is 50 miles west of Yakima. This vast region is traversed by some 2,500 miles of trails suitable for hiking, horseback riding and bicycling. Popular recreation areas include Lake Chelan, north of Wenatchee via US 97A; Lake Wenatchee, about 20 miles north of Leavenworth via CR 62; and lakes Cle Elum, Kachess and Keechelus, near I-90 west of Cle Elum.
Access to the park is free. A Northwest Forest Pass, available at ranger stations, is required for parking at most trailheads in the forest. Day passes cost $5 per vehicle; an annual pass costs $30 per vehicle. Ranger stations are at Chelan, Cle Elum, Entiat, Leavenworth, Naches, Okanogan, Tonasket, Wenatchee and Winthrop. Information about any of the forest's areas can be obtained by writing the Okanogan Valley Office, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, 1240 Second Ave. S., Okanogan, WA 98840; phone (509) 826-3275 or (509) 664-9200.