The Methow (pronounced “met-how”) Valley sits in the center of northern Washington, just east of North Cascades National Park, and nestled into the middle of the Okanogan National Forest, and has long been popular as a premier center for Nordic skiing. Nestled into the rugged granite peaks of the North Cascade Mountains, the valley comprises the towns of Mazama , Winthrop, and Twisp. Coming from the west (Seattle area) on Highway 20, Mazama is the first town in the corridor, and the hub of the trail vast trail system. Mazama is the most remote of the three, and does not offer many amenities for travelers beyond the Mazama Country Store, a couple of hotels, and the matrix of trails. 15 miles down the road, Winthrop is the most touristy of the towns, with an old western look, boardwalk around town, several restaurants and hotels, outdoors stores, clothing and gift boutiques, and a superb book store and an outstanding bakery. Another 9 miles south of Winthrop is Twisp, WA, the base of the valley, and hub where area locals congregate to socialize, stock up on groceries, purchase hardware, or get an oil change. Twisp is also home to several good restaurants and a thriving arts community. The area is well known in the northwest as an outdoor mecca, and during the season when the North Cascades Scenic Highway (route 20 through the Cascades) is open over Washington Pass, it is a relatively easy and scenic 3 hour drive from Seattle. During the winter months, when Washington Pass is closed, travelers must access the valley from the south, coming through the town of Wenatchee, WA.
In the summer months, the Methow bustles with folks making the most of the temperate weather, and locals and tourists alike migrate to the river for fly fishing and rafting. Others log many miles on their bicycles, both in the mountains and along the roads, or venture out into the wilderness with a pair of boots and a backpack. The area also hosts 2 outdoor music festivals – no small feat for an area of this population, and a tribute to the tireless efforts on many local volunteers.
In the winter months, the valley offers the most extensive network of cross-country ski trails in the country, with a whopping 200 kilometers of meticulously groomed paths, thanks to the determined efforts of the unstoppable MVSTA. One can choose the invigorating adventure of a backcountry hut to hut vacation, or the more relaxing path of skiing by day and enjoying the comforts of the Methow by night.
In closing, it should be noted that the area is also strong in the arts and hosts several galleries which present the works of the many local artists who have been inspired by the rugged landscapes of their home, in addition to the Mercantile Theatre which hosts local productions throughout the year.
Avg Temp in January: 32/12
Avg Temp in July: 86/49
Known for: Nordic Skiing, Fishng, Biking