While the Methow Valley is most famous for being home to the largest cross country ski area in North America, it is quickly becoming a full-blown winter resort area with a lot to offer when you’re resting from all that skiing. A few other winter offerings are:
Winthrop Ice Rink
Located adjacent to the Winthrop cross country ski trailhead, the Winthrop Ice Rink is a gorgeous, uncovered, refrigerated, outdoor ice rink that allows skaters to experience the thrill of ice skating under the stars and in the shadow of Mt. Gardner. The newly installed refrigeration unit makes for guaranteed ice between November and March. There are open skate sessions, pick-up hockey (gear is available to rent), and regularly scheduled hockey tournaments for spectators. This facility is another testament to the Methow Valley community: over a million dollars and more than 5,000 volunteer hours were donated to create an amazing place for kids and adults alike. Check out their schedule at winthroprink.org
There are endless opportunity to explore the wilderness on snowshoes. If you’re looking for marked and packed trails, there are opportunities out of Mazama, the Winthrop trailhead, and most extensively, out of Sun Mountain Lodge. There are also many more wild places to take your snowshoes. Just stop into one of the local ski shops for recommendations.
Downhill Skiing at the Loup
An old-fashioned mom and pop ski hill, the Loup Loup Ski Bowl is found at Loup Loup Pass, about 40 minutes from Winthrop. It’s a great place to spend a day with the family. Served by a single lift (with no lines) and friendly volunteers, it’s a breath of fresh air compared to some of the mega resorts. Check out conditions at skitheloup.com
Helicopter and Backcountry Skiing
The Methow Valley lies at the base of the “American Alps” of the North Cascades. North Cascades Heli-ski can provide the experience of a lifetime as they fly skiers deep into the mountains for the very best snow. Also popular in the Methow is ski-touring and backcountry skiing, where solitude and silence are plentiful. Find out more at heli-ski.com and ncmountainguides.com.
The Methow Valley was an early adopter of this newest of winter sports. It’s like mountain biking, but easier (and softer when you fall). There are some shared use trails, but some of the best trails in the country are on a dedicated network at Pearrygin Lake State Park, just 1.5 miles from downtown Winthrop. Rentals and trail information are available in downtown Winthrop.
Snowmobile & skier conflicts are all too common in other areas of the state. Not in the Methow. Both groups have separate—and extensive—trail systems, allowing participants of each sport to explore with abandon. 300 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and endless backcountry opportunities exist. Snowmobile information on trails and rentals can be found at winthropwashington.com.
What you won’t Find
People often talk about what a town has to offer. What’s amazing about the Methow Valley in 2018 is what it doesn’t have to offer. There are no franshise restaurants. No chain stores. No stoplights. No traffic. No light pollution. No traffic noise. It’s truly like stepping back in time.
Brian Sweet, along with his wife, Amy, owns Cascades Outdoor Store in downtown Winthrop. He loves to ski and really loves the Methow Valley.