Nestled in the heart of beautiful Okanogan County, Omak Lake is a hidden gem that offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. As the longest natural lake in the county and the largest saline lake in Washington State, Omak Lake is known for its striking turquoise waters and the contrasting brown desert landscape surrounding it.
Located just a short drive from the towns of Omak and Okanogan, the lake is easily accessible and provides a perfect destination for a tranquil getaway.
If you’re a fisherman the lake is of particular interest as it is the home to the state record-setting Lahontan cutthroat trout, which weighed in at 18.04 lbs in 1993. With its boat access on the north end, the lake is a haven for anglers and recreational boaters alike.
For those looking to explore its shores, the dramatic terrain offers spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains and a unique opportunity to observe the lake’s alkaline content, which forms a strikingly white band around the water’s edge.
Whether you are planning a family vacation, a romantic escape, or a solo adventure, Omak Lake is a must-visit destination in Washington State that promises an unforgettable experience. With its distinctive natural features and surrounding landscape, this visitor’s guide will help you to make the most of your time at this remarkable lake.
Omak Lake Overview
Omak Lake is a hidden gem in Washington state, located near the towns of Omak and Okanogan. This unique lake is the largest saline endorheic lake in the state and offers stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape. Its turquoise waters can be reached by taking Highway 155 north from Omak for about six miles until you reach the turnoff for the lake.
Covering 3,244 acres at an elevation of 950 feet, Omak Lake is the longest natural lake in Okanogan County. It is fed by three small creeks and boasts a depth of 325 feet, making it a fascinating destination for outdoor enthusiasts and anglers alike.
Do note that fishing permits and boat launches (not to mention general public access) are managed by the Colville Tribes as Omak Lake is located on their land.
The lake’s unique saline environment is due to its endorheic nature, which means it doesn’t drain into any ocean or sea. Instead, it retains its water content, causing a buildup of minerals such as salt. This characteristic is not only visually stunning but also supports a rich ecosystem that wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate. It’s worth noting that Omak Lake is situated within the Greater Omak Area, close to the Columbia River, which offers additional outdoor opportunities and scenic views.
Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a casual traveler, Omak Lake serves as an ideal location for enjoying the beauty of Washington’s natural landscapes. With its striking turquoise waters, abundant fishing opportunities, and proximity to nearby attractions, Omak Lake makes for an unforgettable visit in the Pacific Northwest.
Activities At Omak Lake
You can obviously splash around in the water and play on the shore but there are a ton of other activities at Omak Lake to fill your day with:
Omak Lake is known for its fishing opportunities. Anglers can expect to catch various species of fish including including perch, crappie, bass, and several species of trout including the popular cutthroat trout.
Just be sure to follow local fishing regulations and respect the lake’s ecosystem.
Boating enthusiasts will find ample opportunity for water-based recreation. Omak Lake’s calm waters provide the perfect environment for kayaking, canoeing, or taking a leisurely boat ride. Whether you’re looking to explore the lake’s vast shoreline or simply enjoy the scenery, there’s something for every boating enthusiast at Omak Lake.
Surrounding Omak Lake, there are many trails that make great hiking spots for all skill levels. These trails offer scenic views of the lake and the surrounding desert landscape, providing a unique outdoor experience. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and terrain, bring ample water, and respect the natural environment during your hike.
With its tropical blue water and warm temperatures, Omak Lake is a popular swimming destination. The lake’s sandy beaches and crystal-clear water provide a refreshing and enjoyable escape from the hot summer sun. Be mindful of safety precautions and enjoy a day of swimming in this stunning Washington lake.
Okanogan National Forest: Spanning more than a million acres, this stunning natural sanctuary offers a diverse range of landscapes from mountainous terrains to lush forests and alpine meadows. Outdoor enthusiasts can revel in a multitude of activities including hiking through scenic trails, camping under starry skies, fishing in crystal-clear lakes, and spotting wildlife like deer, elk, and possibly even a black bear.
Conconully State Park: Nestled between Conconully Reservoir and Conconully Lake, this 81-acre state park is a haven for outdoor lovers. Its proximity to water bodies makes it a hotspot for boating, fishing, and water sports, while the verdant surroundings are perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and camping. With well-maintained campgrounds and picnic areas, the park is family-friendly and offers something for everyone, whether you’re an avid angler looking to catch some trout, a family wanting to introduce the kids to the joys of camping, or simply someone looking to escape the daily grind and immerse yourself in nature.
Omak Mountain: This lesser-known gem provides breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including Omak Lake and the Okanogan Valley. The mountain offers hiking trails that suit various skill levels, making it accessible for both casual hikers and seasoned trekkers.
Colville Tribal Museum: If you’re traveling through the Okanogan region of Washington State, a stop at the Colville Tribal Museum is highly recommended for anyone interested in indigenous history and culture. Located near Omak Lake, this museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the heritage of the Colville Confederated Tribes. Through a collection of artifacts, photographs, and interactive exhibits, visitors can learn about the traditional practices, art forms, and historical events that have shaped the tribe.
There are also the typical activities that you can find just about anywhere in the PNW including hiking, winery tours, great coffee shops, biking trails, etc.
Whatever you choose to do, Omak Lake is a great destination if you’re looking for a unique experience that will help you beat the heat. See you out on the water!