Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blue Lake, Loomis, Washington

Boondock Destination:  Blue Lake

Once fishing season opens in the lowlands of Okanogan County we start camping up north towards the Canadian line.  This weeks boondocking location is Blue Lake, just south from the town of Loomis and west of Tonasket.  Heading up 97 you can stop at the Wal-Mart supercenter to stock up on supplies and then head east to Fish Lake and a few miles north to Blue Lake.

Here are the Google or GPS coordinates:  48 40 18.62 N  119 41 20.70 W
The official directions can be found here:  http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/search/unit_directions.php?searchby=unit&search=Sinlahekin

Blue Lake is located in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area so you need that $14 parking permit or a state fishing license that will give you that parking permit.  This wildlife area was established as critical winter range for deer, but currently has a healthy bighorn sheep population along with other wildlife species.  There are five lakes located the 14,000 acres of wildlife area.  

We are not sure how the bighorn sheep  feel about all the humans, but a couple of times we have been in Loomis when they came down and had their "own critical mass" demonstration blocking traffic in town and generally being obnoxious.  There are not many places left in the country where bighorns wander into town on a regular basis.

The wildlife area has an excellent gravel road that can be traveled in large rigs.  No size restrictions on finding boondocking areas here.  You can bring you large motorhomes and trailers into this area.  The gravel road can get washboardee (is that a word??) so go slow.

The downside is that the area is popular in late April and early May due to fishing season.  Here is the view on part of the lake on opening day.

But as can see by the first picture on this blog entry, later in the season you can be the only camper on the lake.  Avoid the area in mid-October during the deer rifle season.  Every camping spot will be taken and the fields and forests are full of people dressed in orange.  With the exceptions of those two times you will have plenty of room to roam.

The area is popular with residents of western Washington, but the distance from urban areas limits the number that make the long drive over the mountains.  They are easy to spot since they almost always bring their drift boats for fishing.  It is always looks odd to see a drift boat on an eastern Washington lake.

There is a newly constructed hiking and bicycle trail from the northermost lakes to the north end of Blue Lake.  This trail is not well known by the public yet as it is still being contructed, but the northern portion is complete. 

"The trail leading to an ADA view blind and and ADA fishing pier are located at Conner Lake. An ADA trail is located to the northwest of Blue Lake leading to a viewing blind on the west side of Blue Lake. There is about 8 miles of trail from Headquarters and Conner Lake to about 1 mile north of Fish Lake - Hunter Camp Access Site. These trails are available to hikers, horseback riders with portions for ADA use. Additional trail features include 2 Kiosks, 2 interpretive signs, and 6 view blinds. Bird and butterfly watching opportunities exist all along the trails. Wildflower enthusiasts will also find subjects to interest them."

Most Americans will be arriving from the south and driving through the town of Omak.  One of our favorite lunch stops in Omak is the Breadline Cafe: http://www.breadlinecafe.com/index.shtml

Closer to Blue Lake is the Loomis Country Store.  Basic food and fishing supplies, plus good hamburgers and hard ice cream.  The basics of life.

Blue Lake is less than a dozen miles from the Canadian border, so do not forget to bring your passport if you visit this area.  The area in Canada is much more urban and crowded than Okanogan County.  But then the Canadians have always considered their Okanagan Valley to be the Palm Springs of Canada.

There are millions of acres of public land to explore in this neck of the woods between Canada and the United States.  It is a part of America, most people just plain never get to see.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying reading your blog. The photos are beautiful, and there is a ton of information here.

I especially enjoyed the sections on maps and the history of boondocking.

I have lots more to read, but just wanted to say thank you for such an informative, well presented source of entertainment and knowledge.

I've never traveled out West. As a Florida native, the deserts and big spaces without communication scare me a little. I'm hoping to build my courage up and venture farther and farther West in the coming years.

Thanks again.

Vladimir Steblina said...

Thank you for your comments.

You need to travel out West before its gone for good. Things are changing quickly.

Myself I am looking forward to seeing the south and Florida!

Anonymous said...

Your comment about the West disappearing and wanting to see the South sent me on a very nostalgic journey back to the old Florida.

We used to have weiner roasts and fish fries on the beach... play running and screaming on the dunes, and the wild and free exhilaration of the eternal ocean and endless beach was indescribable.

We made jewelry from the tiny, multi-colored, iridescent coquina shells (tiny clams), extracted the miniscule shells from the strings of little brown bladders that we called seaweed, and played with the various worms and critters that lived in the wet sand.

Now the beaches are wall to wall condos, hotels, houses... with precious little beach access to the public.

Then we moved inland to a very rural area... we fished in the tributaries of the St. Johns River, built tree houses, explored oblivious to private property boundaries, and it was another kind of endless freedom. That neighborhood is now wall to wall shopping malls, apartments, condos, and 4 and 6 lane traffic.

However, the State Parks and National Forests have preserved a tiny slice of that for future generations. So when you come south, there will still be something beautiful to experience.

Take the Florida back roads, too. You can still find pieces of the old Florida on them.

Jennifer said...

Great Blog!!! I just stumbled across it a few minutes ago so I've only read 2 entries so far. I'm going to bookmark you though so I can read the rest. I live in WA and my husband and I are buying our first camper this week and I've been looking for interesting places to boondock. Thanks so much!!!!