Chopaka Lake and Chopaka Mountain Wilderness Study Area is a jewel hidden deep within the highlands of northern Okanagan County, Washington. This Bureau of Land Management area consists of resplendent vegetation such as aspen tree groves and sagebrush that sit along the shoreline, beautifying the park and creating a scenic backdrop that allows guests to enjoy their time outdoors. This park is located 10 miles west of Oroville, Washington and is accessible via a network of major highways and local rough dirt roads. If possible, drive to the park in high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles.
There are good ways to stay active here. If you have your camera and binoculars, you will easily spot the birds that soar the skies above the area and the wildlife species that roam the park. As a flora enthusiast, exploring the different terrains in the park will reveal unique plant communities. In addition, the mountains that surround the wilderness area create good climbing and mountaineering opportunities. Hikers and horseback riders also get good views of the park areas when they move around. Nearby attractions such as Ross Lake National Recreation Area (NRA), North Cascades National Park, and Chopaka Mountain Natural Area Preserve are some commonly visited sites around this BLM park.
Weather permitting, guests can enjoy primitive camping experiences here.
Chopaka Lake and Chopaka Mountain Wilderness Study Area lies about six miles east of Pasayten, 10 miles west of Oroville, Okanagan County, Washington. Washington Highway 7 and US Highway 97 pass through Oroville town, and are joined in places by other highways and roads routes that lead to the park areas. If you’re coming in from Oroville, take the Loomis-Oroville Highway west from Tonasket to Loomis, and turn to Chopaka Mountain Road. Snow conditions often make road access to the WSA difficult, as some of the roads may be impassable. Easy access to the wilderness areas by road is available from April to November.
Your best bet would be to come to the wilderness in high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles so that you won’t have issues negotiating the rough dirt roads en route the park.
The use of motorized vehicles and mechanical equipment within the BLM WSA is not allowed. Wheelchairs are allowed in the WSA.
There are no direct transportation services to Chopaka Lake and Chopaka Mountain WSA.
Chopaka Lake Campground is located near the lake and features 16 pet-friendly campsites that can accommodate tents. The campground is open seasonally between May and October. The main camping option provided here is primitive camping.
Amenities provided here include fire rings, picnic tables, vault toilets, and potable water. A boat ramp is available, and things to do include fishing and hiking. Non-motorized boating opportunities are also open to all campers in the campground. At the nearby Grandview Mountain, wildlife viewing is common. Some big and small game hunting is also done here.
The campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.
Ross Lake National Recreation Area is home to fun activities ranging from water-based recreation opportunities to land exploration exercises.
This NRA has three reservoirs – Diablo Lake, Ross Lake, and George, all of which offer access to even more remote areas for primitive recreation. If you have your fishing gear, you can bring your angling skills to bear. Otherwise, you could choose to hike along paths that will bring you up close to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Chopaka Mountain Natural Area Preserve is a 4.3 square mile high-mountain preserve that protects 11 state-listed plant species, some of which are cinquefoils, gentians, willow, and moonwort. As a result, campers at Chopaka WSA that love nature study enjoy excursions to the preserve.
Other plant communities like subalpine forests, mountain wildflowers, and low-growing alpine turf communities are present in the preserve. Not only do guests take photographs of these flora communities, but they also capture images of the mountain goats and bighorn sheep they sight there.
Every angler that visits Chopaka Lake and Chopaka Mountain WSA without going to Palmer Lake to fish cannot consider their vacation complete. This lake, located near Loomis, is home to a diverse fishery that has several fish species that can be caught all year. A concrete boat launch is provided for lake fishing opportunities, should anglers wish to take their shore fishing one step further. Two-pole fishing is also available.
Available fish species include black crappie, bluegill, burbot, largemouth bass, kokanee, and many more.
The surrounding mountains and hills make this WSA a premier destination for mountaineering enthusiasts and rock climbers. There are several options of places to venture uphill – Chopaka Mountain, Windy Peak, Topaz Mountain, Pick Peak, Goodenough Peak, and many others. You should definitely come along with your hiking and climbing gear so you don’t miss out on this fun opportunity.
Chopaka Mountain is the most commonly climbed landscape here and is accessible for much of the year. It rises to an elevation of 7,881 feet.
Great plant diversity is found within this BLM wilderness area, owing to the considerable topographic relief that’s found here. At the base of the mountain is a sagebrush-steppe plant community that gives way to ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest vegetation in the lower to middle elevations (up to 4,000 feet). Above this elevation, subalpine fir and whitebark pine are common.
Eight endangered plant species have been identified in this park, all found within the ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir and whitebark pine/subalpine fir plant communities.
Chopaka Lake and the WSA are excellent locations to find and view wildlife, be it birds, reptiles, mammals or other fauna. Because of the steep and rugged topography that characterizes the area, there are different wildlife habitats, as well as special habitat features, all of which contribute to the abundance of fauna for guests’ viewing pleasure.
Birds in the area include bald eagles, golden eagles and peregrine falcons. The most prominent species in the area, however, is the mountain goat. Others such as black bear, bighorn sheep, moose, and mule deer are also common. Watch out for raptors too.