Friday, November 9, 2012

Geographic Area

Set between the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Cascade Mountains to the west the Okanogan Highlands is not only a geographic area but a geologic region of the inland Pacific Northwest. This area encompasses portions of southern British Columbia, Canada, and northeastern Washington State in the U.S.A.  The expanse of the area lay east of the Okanogan Mountains (a spur of the North Cascade Range) and stretches west just beyond the boundary of Idaho State line into the western edge of the Rocky Mountains. This mountainous terrain takes in portions of the Canadian Monashee Range, and the Beaverdell Range to the north. The stateside mountains include the Kettle River Range, the Selkirk, the Chewelah, the San Poil, and Huckleberry Mountains.
The Okanogan Highlands north / south boundary definitions extend from the north in the Coldstream Valley, east of Vernon, British Columbia to the southern reaches of Lake Roosevelt on the Columbia River upstream of Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. Moving east the southern boundary follows the Spokane River to the foothills of the Rockies. Rivers within the Okanogan Highlands include the Columbia Okanogan River, the Kettle River and West Kettle River, the Grandby River the Similkameen River and the San Poil River.
The Columbia River divides the Okanogan Highlands into two geographic regions - east and west. My primary focus is within the western region south of the Canada / U.S. border.
Generalized map of the Okanogan Highland area created with datum from WA DNR geological services
The Encompassing Area
An inter-net search will note differing boundaries of the Okanogan Highlands. These variations are cultural, not geologic. Cultural interpretations may change over time based on linguistic norms, and specific populations, which explains in part the misunderstandings of this geographic area. Current local norm (stateside)  has the Okanogan Highlands  extending from the foothills of the Cascades in the west to the Columbia River in the east. There is also a cultural area locally known as the Columbia Highlands, which essentially is the eastern portion of the geological Okanogan Highlands region, east of the Columbia River. 
Washington State regions WA DNR Geologic Services
In this blog I'll show portions of the Okanogan Highlands area touching on the landscape, wildlife, ecology, history, geology and archaeology.  I hope you enjoy and learn a little something about this unique and beautiful area. Please use the PAGES to the right of the screen for more info and to tour the Highlands...
Mount Bonaparte, Okanogan Highlands, photo J. Foster Fanning
While Big White Mountain, of the Beaverdell Range is the highest summit of the Okanogan Highlands, Mount Bonaparte, at 7,257 feet (2,211.93 meters) in northeastern Okanogan CountyWashington State is the tallest summit in the highlands located in the United States. Mount Bonaparte is a  lone summit monadnock within the Okanogan / Wenatchee National Forest and has a fire lookout tower in it’s summit still staffed during the summer season. This mountain, standing tall among it's lesser neighbors, is one of the more prominent landscape features of the western Okanogan Highlands.