Aug 5, 2022 - Things to Do

Explore Washington's outdoor playground in the Methow Valley, 4 hours from Seattle

snow capped mountains green grass hike
Summer and winter are my favorite times to visit the Methow Valley, but springtime isn't too shabby for a family hike through wildflowers. Photo: Lewis Kamb/Axios.

Few places can match the scenic beauty, year-round recreational opportunities and sheer magic of the Methow Valley — Washington's outdoor playground less than a four-hour drive from Seattle.

  • The 28-mile jaunt through the valley along Highway 20 — from Mazama in the northwest, to Twisp in the Southeast, with Western-themed Winthrop smack in-between — offers a variety of lodging, leisure and dining options for visitors.

What to expect: Washington's version of Montana's Paradise Valley, dropped next to the rugged North Cascades.

  • Outdoor fun in any season, with hiking, biking, climbing, camping, fishing, rafting, skiing and plenty of seasonal events.

My thought bubble: My friends and family have been visiting the Methow (pronounced MET-how) Valley for years. My favorite times to visit:

  • During the high-heat of summer, when the Methow River drops low enough to wade and runs clear enough to sight fish.
  • In the deep snows of mid-winter, to take advantage of its world-class cross-country skiing trails.
  • My family last voyaged to the valley in May, with wildflowers still in bloom across the Cascade foothills.

Where to stay

Rentals, motels and campgrounds abound. Some options:

What to do

Take a hike. The nonprofit Washington Trails Association rates its favorite area trails.

Go for a bike ride. Methow Cycle & Sport in Winthrop offers gear and advice about road, mountain and fat biking.

Ski or snowshoe the winter trails. Check out Goat's Beard Mountain Supply in Mazama for rentals.

Fly fish the Methow. Sun Mountain Lodge's activities shop has gear, guides and fly tips.

A boy casts a fly fishing rod on the Methow River.
Hoping a fish will rise before the sun sets, my kid chucks another fly onto the Methow. Photo: Lewis Kamb/Axios.

What to eat and drink

For breakfast, try Cinnamon Twisp Bakery's bagels and baked goods.

Lunch at The Mazama Store on homemade sandwiches and draft beer.

Try happy hour at The Dining Room in Sun Mountain Lodge for cocktails and sweeping views.

Supper? Burgers at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery in Winthrop, washed down with pint of local brew.

The bottom line: It's a big valley; explore it — whether it's your first visit or your hundredth.

Related Axios guide: Roam beaches and eat seafood on Whidbey Island, 90 minutes from Seattle

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