Known to locals as the Cascade Curtain, these mountains help keep the west side wet and the east side dry and sunny. In fact, the North Central region—just east of the mountains—boasts 300 days of sunshine each year. The area is home to the state’s largest natural lake (Lake Chelan), 5,000 nutcrackers (including one that is more than 1,800 years old) at the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum and the Old Molson Ghost Town—full-scale, intact and complete with a restored schoolhouse.
You can still get a meal at Roslyn Cafe, as seen on the hit TV show Northern Exposure, which was filmed in Roslyn, just north of Cle Elum. In January, travelers are privy to the Conconully Outhouse Races. Okanogan County is home to 1,000 miles of snowmobile trails, hiking and biking trails and the Pipestone Canyon—a postage stamp–size Grand Canyon.
Come August, horses and riders run 225 feet down a 62-degree slope into the Okanogan River in the world famous Omak Suicide Race. High above the Columbia River, near Vantage, 15 metal horses gallop across a ridge. The sculpture—Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies—can be seen from spots along I-90.