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Get to know the Columbia Highlands

In northeastern Washington, the Columbia Highlands form the intersection rich and diverse habitats helping connect the Cascades to the Rockies. The Columbia Highlands may be little known to people, but it is well known to wildlife, which flourish in the region's wet forests and rushing streams, granite ridges and quiet canyons.

Welcome to Washington's last frontier: the Columbia Highlands.

Flowing from Canada, the Columbia River rumbles into northeastern Washington, cutting a gateway through two subranges of the western Rocky Mountains, the Kettle River Range and Selkirk Mountains.

At the intersection of the eastern Okanogan Highlands, the arid reaches of the Columbia Basin, the Canadian Monashee Mountains, and the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, the Columbia Highlands houses a unique diversity of landscapes

Google Earth flyover

The Columbia Highlands may be little known to people, but it is well known to wildlife, which flourish in the region's wet forests and rushing streams, granite ridges, and quiet canyons.

Explore the area through The Columbia Highlands book!

Two hundred years after Europeans first settled the state, the Columbia Highlands is still one of the wildest regions in the West. Here, you can gaze at some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States, heavens rarely crossed by air traffic. You can walk trails for miles, sometimes days, through open parklands and forested granite ridges, all without meeting another soul.

In the Pacific Northwest, less than 10% of the old-growth forest still remains. Yet some of the most awe-inspiring giant trees, ponderosa pines and Douglas-firs and western red cedars, can be found in the Columbia Highlands. From Republic to Metaline Falls, residents of the Columbia Highlands depend on these forests and mountains for resources, recreation, clean drinking water, and peace of mind.

A diverse and rich mosaic of habitats provide a lifeline for wildlife between the Cascades and the Rocky Mountains. The Columbia Highlands is especially rich in plants and animals. Today many of the same wildlife walk here that thrived when Lewis & Clark and David Thompson explored the Pacific Northwest hundreds of years ago, including lynx, bears, bighorn sheep, wolverine, wolves, redband trout, elk, mule deer, and the only remaining mountain caribou in the lower 48 states.

Most of the wild, roadless forests in the region are still unprotected as wilderness and the national forest managed without a broader vision. Our Columbia Highlands Initiative proposes a broader vision and a balanced plan for wilderness and working lands in the Columbia Highlands.

 

Read about the region's roadless areas
Columbia Highlands photo tour
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