There’s still time to squeeze in a few more summer adventures before the snow flies.
The sun is glorious, the skies are huge, and summer is nearly over. But there’s still time to squeeze in a few more adventures. These quintessential Okanogan Country experiences will linger on as bright memories when the gloomy gray drizzle of winter returns.
#1 The views at the top of Maple Pass
This 7.2 mile loop near the summit of Washington Pass is a very doable trail. Go counter-clockwise and enjoy a moderate 5 miles to gain your 2,200 feet. At the top, you’ll feel like you can touch the ceiling of the world. The air is brisk and the light is deafening. Impossible peaks and glittering glaciers circle you like satellites. You will feel like a god, or very, very close.
BONUS: Take the short spur route at the end to Lake Anne and go for a quick, refreshing dip before you head back to your car.
#2 Grand Coulee Dam Laser Light Show
This spot offers a different kind of visual extravaganza. Imagine the music of Native American artist Jim Boyd reverberating in the largest concrete structure in the U.S. A narrated story of how and why the Grand Coulee Dam was built, combined with colorful lasers that move across the entire span of the dam, creating magnificent moving images that virtually dance across the spillway. Grab your lawn chairs, some popcorn and the kids and come see the totally new Laser Light Show at the Grand Coulee Dam.
BONUS: Don’t forget to book a free tour of the dam. Guided tours are available until the end of October, and will leave you in absolute awe of the structure.
#3 Pateros Fire Memorial Museum
Located alongside picturesque Lake Pateros along the Upper Columbia, the Pateros Museum at City Hall was converted from an old fire hall in 2009. This charming small museum features educational outlooks on the city and its history and includes a fire exhibit honoring the resilience of the region after the devastation faced in the 2014 and 2015 fires.
While you’re there, enjoy a treat at the local bakery or lunch at the restaurant. Enjoy the water and views along the walking path that winds along the waterfront in “downtown” Pateros.
Bonus: Order your own free copy of the soon-to-be-printed Fire Shaped Landscape Driving map for more context and guidance on seeing the effects of wildfires for yourself.
#4 Harvest bounty in the Okanogan and Methow valleys
Succulent peaches. Sweet, plump ears of corn. Juicy nectarines still warm from the sun. The north Okanogan is your destination to sample nature’s bounty and homegrown, heritage fruit and produce that will delight your senses. Roadside fruit stands and farmers markets, orchards and vineyards and rolling hills surround you as you drive through Okanogan Country. You’ll especially love the scenic views along Route 97 in the upper Okanogan.
“I’ve been visiting Okanogan Country with my family since I was a little girl,” says Gwen, of Bellingham. “We used to drive over in my dad’s beat-up blue Dodge and go hiking in the Pasaytens. We always made time for ice cream afterwards, and a long stop at the fruit stand or the farmer’s market to get a big box of peaches to take home with us. I would help my mom peel them and she would make a pie for dinner. The taste of warm peaches still reminds me of hiking in the sunlight of Okanogan Country.”
Bonus: Check out the Okanogan County Fair (Sept. 6-9, 2018) to see prize-winning produce, plus other fair favorites including music, ProWest Rodeo, horse racing, Horse Nation Indian relay races, and lots and lots of animals.
#5 North Cascades Smokejumper base tour
Do you know what a smokejumper is? Smokejumpers are a rare breed of hero. They parachute from an airplane into a remote area to fight a wildfire. And Winthrop is the birthplace of smokejumping.
These men and women are tough, independent and fierce. If you visit the North Cascades Smokejumper base near Winthrop, one of these brave men or women will give you a personal tour of the base. You’ll see their packs (120+ pounds), their chutes (folded by very careful hands) and their jumpsuits (which they sew themselves in the loft).
BONUS: For a riveting late-summer read, grab a copy of “Smokejumper,” written by Okanogan Country’s own Jason A. Ramos, about the history of smokejumping and his own experiences in wildland firefighting.
Find your adventure in Okanogan Country! Fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, horseback riding – find wide-open spaces teeming with wildlife, spectacular scenery and family fun. For more about Okanogan Country, check out our Official Travel Guide.