Colville National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service proclaims: “The Colville National Forest disproves the widely held notion that Washington state lies flat east of the Cascade Mountains.”

Located in the northern reaches of the state, and spanning from the border with Idaho to about midway into Washington, Colville National Forest is a sprawling 1.5-million acre forest shaped by Ice Age glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. 

Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service (

It’s a place you go for solitude, for one. There’s plenty of wilderness and backcountry camping opportunities, however, there’s also developed campgrounds and cabin rentals offered by the Forest Service. Still, you’re more or less roughing it in this region. 

Snow Peak Cabin is one such location. It’s a rustic log cabin equipped with a wood stove, sleeping cots, a propane cook stove and other basics. No potable water is on site, so visitors must bring plenty of their own water.

Depending on the season, you’ll find yourself hiking and mountain biking or skiing and snowshoeing into the forest. It’s also a terrific place to do some fishing. There are dozens of lakes and ponds, rivers and streams to choose from. (And, yes, ice fishing in the winter.) Some 20 different species of fish live in Colville National Forest waters, including a wide variety of trout – both stocked and naturally occurring. 

If you want to really get away without stepping into the wilderness, one great option is Crescent Lake (not to be confused with Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula in the northwestern part of the state). The stunning 21.6-acre emerald green lake is located just one mile south of the Canadian border and offers a quiet experience for travelers.