Like many of its surrounding counties, Okanogan County was initially settled as a trading post during the gold rush in the late 1800’s. First used as an outpost for fur and pelt trading, the discovery of gold and silver in 1858 catalyzed an influx of settlers to the county, though its gold production never exceeded fourth in the state. The economy still relies on resource extraction, but not of gold: Okanogan County’s primary industry is timber and wood processing, containing a plywood and veneer mill that employs many of the county residents. In addition, Okanogan County is a key producer of fruits and wheat that flourish in its sunny and fertile climate.
Okanogan County is also rich with recreational activities and sites, attracting visitors year round. With its ample sun, visitors are able to camp, fish, hike, mountain bike, play on the lake, and rock climb with ease. Home to multiple festivals, Okanogan County visitors can spectate one of the county’s many rodeos or participate in the annual wine festival. In the winter months, skiing and snowshoeing is facilitated by both ample snow and North America’s largest ski-trail system. Okanogan County’s wildlife is varied and interesting, attracting everyone from birdwatching enthusiasts and those keen to see black bears.
County Seat: Okanogan
Incorporation Date: February 2, 1888
Form of Government: General Law
Area: 5,268 sq mi (13,644 km2)
Population: 42,730 (2019)
Etymology: A Salish word meaning “rendezvous”