~ Omak and Okanogan, Washington ~

Some of you know I was sort of stranded in Omak, Washington, for three weeks waiting for WA Route 20 to be cleared of snow. I was using Route 20, because it runs through North Cascades National Park, which was on my travel itinerary. Those photos are on another page.

Omak sits just off the west side of the Colville Indian Reservation. East Omak is on the rez. Okanogan (Okanagan in Canada; same valley and river), the county seat of Okanogan County is located a few miles south of Omak on U.S. Route 97. The Okanogan River runs between these two cities and the reservation. The river is the western boundary of the rez.

Omak is the largest city in Okanogan County, Washington. The population was 4,770 at the 2010 census. It is 48 miles south of the Canadian border where more populated cities are located (Kelowna, Penticton, and Kamloops).

Shortly after being formed, the city of Omak waged a battle trying to get the county seat to be located there, but it lost to the nearby community of Okanogan.

Since 1933, Omak has hosted the World Famous Omak Stampede, with the Suicide Race added in 1935.

Omak is not the worst place to be stranded, but it's not the best either.

A part of the North Cascade Range taken from Omak


These sculptures are at the Omak Stampede Grounds. They are wooden, old and pretty beat up.

Beautiful Downtown Omak

Omak Stampede Grounds

Loading up
One of the times I was visiting the Stampede Grounds, there were many riders with their horses there

Rain clouds on the way


Okanogan (derived from a Syilx'tsn word meaning "rendezvous" or "meeting place") is the County Seat of Okanogan County, Washington. The population was 2,336 at the 2000 census. Okanogan lost about the same population as Omak gained between 2000 and 2010.

One can usually find an Irish Pub anywhere one looks, even in Okanogan

Okanogan River

The Okanogan River (called the Okanagan River in Canada) is a tributary of the Columbia River, approximately 115 mi (185 km) long, in southern British Columbia and north central Washington. It drains a scenic plateau region called the Okanagan Country east of the Cascade Range and north and west of the Columbia, and also the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia - which is also known as the Okanagan Country, but more usually as "the Okanagan".

Early maps of the fur trade era show the Okanagan River as the "Caledonia River", a name conferred as it was the connecting route between the Columbia District and the New Caledonia Fur District (which began north of Okanagan Lake). Fort Okanogan, a fur-trading post of the North West Company, was located at the river's confluence with the Columbia. During the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of 1858-1859, parties of armed miners, often at conflict with native peoples in the region, travelled the Okanagan Trail and its western branch, the Similkameen Trail, via the river. After hostilities subsided, the route continued to be important as the southern leg of the overland trail to the Cariboo Gold Rush known then by its fur trade era name as the Brigade Trail.

Okanogan RIver

A small eddy

The photos below are of the same parts of the river during the flood warning period. You can see the little island is under water at this time.

Music is "Wild Angels"

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