The 2.2 million acre Wenatchee National Forest extends about 135 miles along the east side of the Cascade Mountains and most noted for its wide range of recreation opportunities.The Wenatchee Forest stretches from upper Lake Chelan on the north to the Yakima Indian Reservation on the south.
The vegetation varies with the elevation, from the sagebrush and pine covered slopes at 2,000 feet, to higher elevation areas with alpine fir and mountain huckleberry, to the crest of the Cascade Mountain range at 8,000 feet and above where vegetation is sparse.
Approximately 40 percent of the Wenatchee Forest is designated Wilderness in seven Wilderness Areas: Lake Chelan-Sawtooth, Glacier Peak, Henry M. Jackson, Alpine Lakes, William O. Douglas, Norse Peak, and Goat Rocks. Here, foot travel is the only method of transportation allowed, and the land is managed to preserve its natural, primitive condition. There are no developments or roads in Wilderness
The remaining 60 percent of the Forest is managed to provide multiple uses to its public owners. On these lands, activities such as timber harvest, livestock grazing, road building, woodcutting, developed camping, and off-road vehicles are common.
Wenatchee Forest campgrounds meet a variety of camping needs with more than 100 campgrounds and picnic sites. Some campgrounds have sites designed for tent camping, for camper use, and for use by those pulling a trailer. Other campgrounds have areas specially designed for campers who bring their horses for trail riding. Both single family and multi-family camping sites may be found.
Most campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and charge camping fees. Free-use sites have campfire rings or fireplaces, picnic tables, and primitive restroom facilities. There are also developed campgrounds for use by large groups, such as family reunions. These sites may be reserved ahead of time and use fees are based on the number of people in the group and length of stay. Many are reservable through ReserveUSA.com
In addition to camping, the Wenatchee Forest offers many other recreation opportunities. There are approximately 5,000 miles of forest roads that provide access to campgrounds, trailheads, scenic vistas, woodcutting and berry picking areas, hunting areas, rockhounding areas, lakes, and streams. In the winter, snow-covered roads are used for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
The winter months also bring opportunities for cross-country ski trips along developed, signed trail systems.
Some trails are open to a variety of uses, including motorized use, while others are restricted to non-motorized use alone. All trails within Wilderness are closed to motorized access.
Watch raptors migrate through a unique program. Through the Chelan Ridge Raptor Migration Project, Hawk Watch International has teamed up with Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests to monitor and learn more about raptors migrating through the eastern Cascade Mountains of Washington within the Pacific Coast Flyway.
Counts typically range between 2,000-3,000 migrants of up to 17 species per season. The most commonly seen species are the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Harrier, Golden Eagle, and American Kestrel. The project runs from 27 August through 31 October (or whenever the snow forces the crew off the ridge).