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Cameron Lake Road - Timentwa Plateau

This route traverses the Timentwa Plateau, an upland area bordering the east side of the lower Okanogan River valley. The rolling plateau contains numerous lakes and wet depressions set among agricultural fields, sagebrush flats, and grasslands and with scattered rocky cliffs and small ravines. While the terrain along this route is predominantly open, for the two miles north of Cook Lake, the route does extend through a Ponderosa pine forest. The varied habitat and splendid views from the open plateau make this an attractive birding route in all seasons.

Access and Logistics

From the South: From the junction of SR 97 and SR 17 about 4 3/4 miles east of Brewster, travel north on SR 97 2.5 miles and turn right onto Cameron Lake Road.

From the North: From the junction of SR 97 and Riverside Drive in north Omak, travel south on SR 97 4.4 miles and turn left onto Cameron Lake Road. Logistics: Cameron Lake Road is paved on both its north and south ends. The middle section is unpaved, although easily be travelled by standard passenger vehicles in the dry season. Although the road is plowed in winter, travel at that season can be difficult for two-wheel drive vehicles. During spring snowmelt and after heavy rains, the unpaved portion of the road can be quite muddy. Most land along this route is private, so birding must be done from the road, but this is not a hardship as vehicle traffic is sparse. With the open terrain, a spotting scope is useful. No services exist along this route. Gas, food, and lodging can be found in Omak and Okanogan along the Okanogan River near the north end of the route and Brewster, Pateros, and Bridgeport along the Columbia River near the south end of the route. Cell service is available over much of the route.

Major Habitats along Route
  • Agricultural Lands
  • Shrub-steppe - Dominated by sagebrush and/or bitterbrush and grasses and forbs
  • Pondersosa Pine Woodland - Woodland, generally open, dominated by ponderosa pine with an understory dominated by either shrubs or grasses and forbs.
  • Wetlands: Lakes, Ponds, Marshes - Includes open water, water areas with emergent vegetation, and areas of seasonally wet soils. Many of these areas have a fringe of wetland vegetation. Water levels vary seasonally and some lakes and ponds are alkaline.

Birds and Seasons to Visit

Seasons: This route is excellent in all seasons, especially spring and fall migration.

Birds: Notable are large numbers of waterfowl in migration and breeding; birds of prey in all seasons, including wintering specialties (e.g. rough-legged hawk likely, gyrfalcon and snowy owl possible); shorebirds in migration - especially late summer - and breeding (e.g. Wilson's phalarope and long-billed curlew); sandhill cranes during migration; both shrikes in season; open-country sparrows and allies during migration and breeding (e.g. Brewer's, grasshopper, vesper, lark, savannah) and in migration and winter (e.g. snow bunting, Lapland longspur). In the coniferous forest north of Cook Lake, birders have found many species typical of that habitat, including woodpeckers (e.g. white-headed woodpecker) and a variety of woodland-loving passerines. Heavily vegetated riparian corridors along this route can be excellent in migration for warblers, vireos, and other species that favor this habitat.

Side Trips

Soap Lakes: This side trip, which takes the birder past several alkaline lakes, is located west of Cameron Lakes Road. Travel on SR 97 to the intersection with Soap Lakes Road about 4.1 miles north of the SR 97 / SR 17 junction and 23 miles south of the SR 97 / Riverside Drive junction. The graveled road, which becomes increasingly rough as it approaches the lakes, leads 4 1/2 miles to Little Lake and, 1 1/2 miles further, on to larger Soap Lake. The side trip passes through grasslands and sagebrush habitat.

Cameron Lake Loop: The south end of this side trip leaves Cameron Lake Road about 0.9 mile south of Cook Lake, loops past several lakes, passing through varied habitat including grasslands, sagebrush, and coniferous forest, and returns to Cameron Lake Road about 1.2 miles north of Cook Lake.

Greenaway Road / Timentwa Road: These two roads extend east from Cameron Lake Road across the plateau. Greenaway Road leaves Cameron Lake Road about 1/2 mile south of Duley Lake. Timentwa Road leaves Cameron Lake Road 0.9 miles north of Duley Lake and about 6 miles south of Cook Lake. Both roads eventually reach the east side of the plateau, join together, and descend off the plateau to the Columbia River Road, which the traveler can take north to Omak or south to the Columbia River.


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