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Okanogan County, Washington facts for kids

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Okanogan County
Okanogan County courthouse in Okanogan
Okanogan County courthouse in Okanogan
Official seal of Okanogan County
Map of Washington highlighting Okanogan County
Location within the U.S. state of Washington
Map of the United States highlighting Washington
Washington's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Washington
Founded February, 1888
Named for Okanagan people
Seat Okanogan
Largest city Omak
 • Total 5,315 sq mi (13,770 km2)
 • Land 5,268 sq mi (13,640 km2)
 • Water 47 sq mi (120 km2)  0.9%%
 • Total 42,104
 • Estimate 
42,634 Increase
 • Density 7.8/sq mi (3.0/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
Congressional district 4th

Okanogan County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington along the Canada–US border. As of the 2020 census, the population was 42,104. The county seat is Okanogan, while the largest city is Omak. Its area is the largest in the state.

About a fifth of the county's residents live in the Greater Omak Area. The county forms a portion of the Okanogan Country. The first county seat was Ruby, which has now been a ghost town for more than 100 years.

Okanogan County was formed out of Stevens County in February 1888. The name derives from the Okanagan language place name ukʷnaqín. The name Okanogan (Okanagan) also refers to a part of southern British Columbia.


Several hundreds of years before Europeans arrived, the area that became Okanogan County was home to numerous indigenous peoples that would eventually become part of three Indian reservations referred to as the Northern Okanogans or Sinkaietk, Tokoratums, Kartars and Konkonelps. They spoke in seven types of Interior Salish languages related to the Puget Sound tribes. The Okanogans experienced a favorable climate, having camped in the winter, hunting bears in the spring, catch fish in the summer and hunt deer in fall. The camps consisted of teepee-like longhouses built with hides and bark. A popular destination for this was the Kettle Falls also situated in Washington where the Columbia River dropped over 20 feet (6.1 m). Meanwhile, women gathered several pieces of nuts, roots and berries.

Due to its remoteness, the area that became Okanogan County was one of the last in Washington settled by white people. It was an early thoroughfare used by prospectors to gain access to other communities, some of which contain gold fields in what is now known as British Columbia, a province in Western Canada. By the 21st century, the region specialized in agriculture, forestry and tourism. Electric producer Grand Coulee Dam was constructed between 1933 and 1942, originally with two power plants, around the Okanogan and Grant counties at the former's southern border.

In July 2014, the Carlton Complex wildfire burned over 250,000 acres (390 sq mi; 1,000 km2) in Okanogan County. It destroyed over 300 homes including 100 in and around Pateros.


Methow Valley
Landscape near Winthrop, Washington

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 5,315 square miles (13,770 km2), of which 5,268 square miles (13,640 km2) is land and 47 square miles (120 km2) (0.9%) is water. It is the largest county in the state by area, and it is larger than three states in land area.

Geographic features

Major highways

  • US 97.svg U.S. Route 97
  • WA-20.svg State Route 20
  • WA-153.svg State Route 153

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,467
1900 4,689 219.6%
1910 12,887 174.8%
1920 17,094 32.6%
1930 18,519 8.3%
1940 24,546 32.5%
1950 29,131 18.7%
1960 25,520 −12.4%
1970 25,867 1.4%
1980 30,639 18.4%
1990 33,350 8.8%
2000 39,564 18.6%
2010 41,120 3.9%
2020 42,104 2.4%
2021 (est.) 42,634 3.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 41,120 people, 16,519 households, and 10,914 families living in the county. The population density was 7.8 inhabitants per square mile (3.0/km2). There were 22,245 housing units at an average density of 4.2 per square mile (1.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 73.9% white, 11.4% American Indian, 0.6% Asian, 0.4% black or African American, 0.1% Pacific islander, 10.1% from other races, and 3.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 17.6% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 21.4% were German, 12.4% were Irish, 12.2% were English, and 3.6% were American.

Of the 16,519 households, 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.9% were non-families, and 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.96. The median age was 42.9 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $38,551 and the median income for a family was $48,418. Males had a median income of $37,960 versus $29,032 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,093. About 14.7% of families and 19.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.3% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.


Washington State - Landscape near Okanogan WA - USA - 03
Landscape near Okanogan, Washington



Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

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