Description: Curves and more curves describe this route. The meandering Kettle River running through a segment of the route offers some of the region’s prettiest views. You may wish to schedule in enough time to explore the multiple sights of this route.
Travel from Oroville to Tonasket via Hwy 97. Take Hwy 20 east, pausing for at least a photo of tiny Wauconda before continuing on to Republic. Before heading to Curlew, turn off onto S. Clarke Ave to visit downtown Republic. Backtrack through town to connect to Hwy 21 North, reaching 921-acre Lake Curlew in 21.3 miles. A popular recreational area, Curlew offers lots of rustic accommodations at its big state park and elsewhere along the shores. Follow Hwy 21 to Kettle River Rd which becomes Toroda Creek Rd. Head west on Chesaw Rd, passing through the town of Chesaw, and follow the Oroville-Chesaw Hwy back into Oroville.
Insider’s tip: Handy for visitors, patrons of the Republic Brewing Company in the Old Fire Hall in downtown Republic may order food from a choice of nearby restaurants, and it will be delivered to their table to enjoy with their favorite brew.
Some of Republic’s past has been preserved in the town’s western theme buildings. Unlike most of the region where mining has come and gone, gold mining here lives on. Mill facilities for Kinross Gold Corporation’s Buckhorn mine in Okanogan County as well as its Kettle River mines are located here.
Insider tip: Bikers traveling through Republic the third weekend of September will observe an exotic local tradition, a petanque tournament. Similar to bocce ball and horseshoes, it’s a French game with an international following.
Stone Rose Interpretive Center and Boot Hill Fossil Site
Republic’s most popular tourist attraction is a pile of rocks, just the spot for a brief paleontological interlude. If you unearth a unique specimen of the Eocene Epoch, it will be sent to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The Interpretive Center is located at the corner of Kean Street and Highway 20, and the dig is a short walk from there. Tools may be rented if you don’t come prepared.
It doesn’t get much more laid back than Curlew. The town comes alive in summer when campers, RV people and other visitors descend on the place to stock up on supplies for their vacations at the nearby lake. Curlew’s main attraction (at the corner of River Street and Railroad Avenue), the lovingly restored 1903 Ansorge Hotel Museum was a thriving hotel in its day).
Insider tip: If thoughts of a burger and fries are calling to you, here’s the place. At Toroda Junction (Highway 21), tugboat operator turned tugboat drive-in owner, Dennis has turned a gravel parking lot into a fast food oasis, popular with the locals. Fresh ingredients, espresso and everything you could want in a hamburger joint menu along with a big parking lot furnished with picnic benches make Tugboat’s drive-in a satisfying stop.
Detour possibility: Ferry County Auto and Truck Museum
In Curlew on Highway 21 you’ll come upon this eclectic museum. Among its artifacts is a restored 1927 fire truck loaned by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, a gift he received from actor Sean Penn. Open weekends seasonally and by appointment.
For a detail of the map, click below. Drag and drop the little man anywhere on the route to see street views.