Pateros, Carlton, Twisp, Winthrop, Mazama
The Cascade Loop highway follows the Columbia River to Pateros, then swings northwestward to ascend the Methow River Valley. This is the eastern gateway to the North Cascades National Park Highway which is traditionally open mid-April through early to mid-November (weather/snow pack determines the closing and opening dates).
Pateros makes a good place to pause for a picnic lunch. There's a waterfront park with RV spaces, fruit stands and an 18-hole golf course. Alta Lake State Park offers excellent trout fishing and secluded campsites.
The Methow Valley is Washington's equivalent of the Old West. As you drive up the valley, you'll pass fields of baled hay, big old weathered barns, corrals full of horses and the jagged Cascades for a backdrop.
The Methow and the adjacent Okanogan country is famous for its superb stream and lake trout fishing. Dozens of small lakes dot the region. Most have campgrounds and small, rustic resorts with rental boats.
The Methow River is a popular rafting destination. The back roads and forest trails are favorites of cyclists and cross-country skiers. The Methow Valley Sport Trails Association has developed hundreds of miles of trails that cross rolling farmland, skirt scenic rivers and wander throughout the Okanogan foothills.
Twisp is a friendly town with a growing reputation for art, food and adventure--along with services from pharmacies to auto parts. Hit Twisp's downtown art galleries, check out public sculptures, swim in the Methow Valley's only public pool, relax or play in the riverside park and playground, or take in an evening of theater at the Merc Playhouse. Restaurants, a brew pub, natural foods and the Saturday Methow Valley Farmers Market make Twisp a stop for foodies of all stripes. Head west on Twisp River Road for countless camping, hiking and fishing opportunities.. They also have summer theater productions.
Winthrop looks like the set from a Western movie. False-fronted wooden buildings, hitching rails and board sidewalks all create the illusion of a frontier town. Yet, Winthrop offers all of the facilities and services you'd expect from a major vacation center. In addition to traditional lodging, state parks, forest service campgrounds and numerous private campgrounds cater to tent and RV campers.
Mazama, at the head of the valley, is a launching point for recreational activity in the surrounding mountains. There's lodging and camping here along with horsepacking and backpacking trips. Hundreds of miles of trails branch out in every direction. This is prime country for bird watching.
When the highway over the mountains is closed, Winthrop and Mazama become quiet winter recreation retreats offering cross-country or downhill skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, hunting and fishing. With almost 200km of unrepeated, interconnected trails sprinkled with inns, restaurants, huts and ski shops, the Methow Valley is one of the finest cross-country ski areas in North America.