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The Route

Extending from Pateros to the crest of the Cascade mountains, the Methow Valley is Washington state’s Wild West! Stop at Howard’s on the River for an outstanding meal with a view of the mighty Columbia River. Turn onto Highway 153 and see how jagged mountains form a backdrop for quaking aspen, log ranch homes, and the meandering Methow River. Dry shrub-steppe hillsides give way to stands of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir as you gain elevation. The highway passes through the tiny towns of Methow and Carlton. Fuel up and grab supplies at the Carlton Store. 

Next, head into the Methow Valley’s largest town, Twisp, a community that has a penchant for the arts and welcomes all. Check in with Methow Arts for complete details about the Methow arts scene — galleries, music, live theater and festivals. Stop in at the Confluence Gallery & Art Center in Twisp to explore their rotating exhibits and amazing gift shop. Stop at TwispWorks and check out local artisans’ live, working studios on this renovated 6-acre campus, and right next door, the Methow Valley Interpretive Center to explore exhibits and their interpretive garden.

Restaurants favor locally grown and harvested as well as fair trade and sustainably sourced ingredients, so expect incredible cuisine here. Stop at nationally acclaimed Blue Star Coffee Roasters for a cup of their award-winning joe, or pick up some coffee to take home, a great locally made souvenir! Next, stock up your cooler at Thomson’s Custom Meats, located just a 1/2 mile south of Twisp. They are best known for their handcut steaks, house-made sausage, and all manner of local cuts for grilling.

The famous Twisp River Recreation Area takes you deep into the wilderness and offers dozens of campgrounds and trails. Get outside for hiking, biking, photography, fishing, river rafting and more! Heading north on the Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road (off Highway 20/153 just south of Hank's Market), you’ll find a meandering country road that winds around farms and ranches. Continuing on this side-road, halfway to Winthrop, stop at the North Cascades Smokejumper Base for a free tour of the birthplace of smokejumping. Kids and adults alike love to see the parachutes and the plane (in season). This road continues to Winthrop.

If you stay on Highway 20 and continue up valley, Winthrop takes you back to the old Wild West with its 1890 storefronts. Stop and walk the wooden boardwalks, take photos and enjoy the town’s fantastic shops, restaurants, bakeries and pubs. Enjoy casual dining and handcrafted brews at favorite local watering holes. If you are looking for an upscale dining experience, the Methow Valley is home to three acclaimed restaurants, each presenting their take on locally sourced, meticulously prepared cuisine: Arrowleaf Bistro, Sun Mountain Lodge or the Sandy Butte Bistro & Bar. Looking for adventure? Book a horseback ride at the Sun Mountain Lodge Stables, a hot air balloon ride with Morning Glory Balloon Tours or a guided fishing trip with Methow Fishing Adventures.

Downtown Winthrop is anchored on each end by pedestrian bridges that span the Chewuch and Methow rivers with viewing platforms to watch salmon spawn, as well as people fly-fishing, river rafting and tubing. The surrounding hills provide opportunities for mountain biking, hiking, camping, hunting and fishing. 

North America’s largest Nordic ski trail system, Methow Trails, is found in the Methow Valley, making it a winter mecca for skiers to enjoy more than 120 miles of groomed trails. The trails are great for hiking and biking in the summer!

As you continue west on Highway 20, follow the Methow River to the small village of Mazama. While the “core” of Mazama is small, it has some fabulous food, stellar shops, and is surrounded by incredible vistas, ranch lands and soaring mountains. This is your last opportunity for gas until you reach Marblemount, on the other side of the pass. As you head further west, you’ll see immediately why we recommend traveling the Cascade Loop in a counter-clockwise direction – the eastern approach to Washington Pass offers jawdropping views you don’t see when you drive from west to east.

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The Methow Tribe lived in pit houses and traveled in canoes carved from cedars. Early in the 1900s, horses assisted in seasonal travel, beginning a love of horses that remains in the valley today. The tribe suffered after smallpox epidemics of the late 18th century. Many joined the Confederated Tribes of the Colville.

By the mid-to-late 1800s, fur trappers, followed by miners and settlers came to the valley. The settlers brought cattle, sheep and horses to graze. Farming, ranching and logging were prolific. Inspired by the discovery of gold at nearby Brewster, prospectors came to the valley next. Farming continued to thrive and by 1913, there was an estimated 1 million fruit trees in Okanogan County. 

In 1972, the North Cascades Highway was built as a connector between the Methow Valley and Western Washington. This inspired the town of Winthrop to reinvent itself and restore buildings to an early frontier appearance.

Your Methow Valley Adventure
Fish On!
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Head North!
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Climbing
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Hiking
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EV Charging Station
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Cowboy Culture
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Wildlife
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Amazing Food
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Winter
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The Arts
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Local Color on the Loop, Issue 3-Dan and Meg Donohue
Maybe it’s the aromatic whiff of rich, roasted coffee that envelops you as soon as you walk in the coffee bar; maybe it’s the playful baristas who love to photobomb or maybe it’s the fact that owners Dan and Meg Donohue greet everyone who enter this welcoming space with megawatt smiles, there’s an undeniable buzz at Blue Star Coffee Roasters in the small artsy town of Twisp, WA. Read More >>>>
Local Color on The Loop, Issue 2-Red
Nicknamed for her auburn hair and a penchant to blush, Debbie “Red” Schrock expertly navigates the frosted terrain on the horseback trails at Sun Mountain Lodge. Read More >>>>
Local Color on The Loop, Issue 1-Chef Tyler Krost
Local Color on The Loop is an ongoing, multi-issue installment featuring the colorful personalities one might just encounter while traveling the Cascade Loop. This installment features the talents of the Skagit Valley's own local photo journalistic celebrity, Ting-Li Wang. Ting-Li's previous experience includes The Wisconsin State Legislature, The New York Times, The Virginian-Pilot and The Hays Daily News 2018. Check out more of her work and follow her adventures on Instagram @tingliwangphoto. Read More >>>>
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      Skagit Valley & Fidalgo Island
      Snohomish River Valley
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