Regional Spotlight: North Central Washington

It is easy to fall in love with this part of the state, the North Central Region (NCW) has a lot to offer. The landscape is very diverse along the I-90 corridor near Ellensburg running up the east side of the Cascades through towns like Leavenworth and Winthrop to the Canadian border. Then changing direction it runs south from Chesaw along the 119th meridian through Grand Coulee to bring you back around to Moses Lake. 

The arid lands of this portion of eastern Washington include a mix of mountain vistas, shrub steppe areas, natural grasslands, lush farmlands, orchards and vineyards, rocky outcrops and cliffs, alpine packlands, wetlands, streams, lakes, and open woodlands with ponderosa pines.

Lots of the land is publicly owned allowing many opportunities to enjoy It’s beauty. The 14 state parks located here are centered around the peaks and waterways. The Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest boasts over 4 million acres along the east slopes of the Cascade Range. The Colville Indian Reservation protects and manages 2,825,000 acres of land.

The northern portion of the Columbia Valley viticultural area crosses into the NCW region. 99% of Washington wines are grown in the Columbia Valley. Lake Chelan and Ancient Lakes are sub appellations of this 8,748,949 acre viticultural region. The irrigation required in this environment, along with the dependable, warm temperatures equate to consistency in the wines and vintages. Exceptional quality wines and ciders are produced here every year.

There is rich history from all of those who have lived and traveled through here. Ghost towns, mining structures, and sometimes just a historical plaque is all that’s left at the physical location. But much of the tradition is carried on with rodeos, stampedes, cattle drives, and ranch experiences - you can pick your own western adventure. The area is strong in horsemanship and raising cattle with weekends spent at the farmers markets and community events such as pancake feeds and potlucks at the historic grange halls.

Three hundred days of sunshine with four distinct seasons presents opportunities for practically every recreation imaginable. The southern part of NCW offers sand dunes and mud flats to play in. The largest cross country ski trail system in North America can be explored in the north end. Access points for outdoor recreation are nearly everywhere, from trails to waterways to snow parks in the winter. This is also the “Land of Many Lakes” with fifty lakes within fifty miles of most anywhere you’re standing in the area. Gravel backroads criss cross the region to get you from canyon cave spelunking to water skiing on many of the lakes and rivers. With more fresh air and stars than you could ever take in; this is a place to live, breathe and explore.