Omak is a small mill and orchard town in the beautifully rustic Okanogan Valley of north-central Washington. Lake Omak to the southeast, on the Colville Reservation, is part of an ancient channel of the Columbia River, which ran north prior to the last ice age before turning south at Omak in what is now the lower Okanogan Valley.
For years Omak has been criticized by animal lovers for its mid-August Omak Stampede and Suicide Race. During the annual event, which started as a rodeo in 1933, wild horses race down a steep bluff and across the Okanogan River. Some horses have been killed and riders seriously injured. Many of the riders are from the Colville Reservation, and elders defend the race as part of Native American culture. Despite the detractors, more spectators attend the event each year.