Winthrop Washington is a very popular camping destination with ample options for places for your tent or RV. You can camp at a privately owned campground with WIFI and car charging stations within walking distance from downtown. You’re just as likely to find a state park with camping around Winthrop Washington.
Visitors shouldn’t be surprised to wake up to the colorful and elegant image of a hot air balloon floating across Winthrop Washington skyline.
Local outfitter, Morning Glory Balloon Tours offer visitors the unforgettable experience of seeing the Methow Valley’s spectacular landscape from a bird’s-eye view. Private and group flights are available. The experience starts just after sunrise and lasts about 3 hours including an end-of-flight gourmet picnic back on the ground. It’s the perfect way to get the lay of the land at the beginning of a Methow vacation, or conclude a visit with a storybook ending.
“We fly in the morning when the winds are calmest. Your adventure begins from the town of Winthrop. Hot drinks are served while the crew inflates and prepares the balloon for flight. Each journey is unique, combining low level views over the treetops with spectacular panoramic views from higher elevations. There is little feeling of movement as we gently drift with the wind.”
Kurt & Melinda Oakely, Morning Glory Balloon Guides
The ballooning season kicks off every year on the first weekend in March with the annual Winthrop Balloon Festival. Balloons from all around the Pacific Northwest travel to Winthrop to fill the morning skies with a colorful, warm glow. This is a photographic event not to be missed!
Stargazing in Winthrop Washington is spectacular because Winthrop has some of the darkest skies in the lower forty-eight states. On moonless nights you can see the Milky Way from one side of the galaxy to the other. It’s a great place to see the Northern Lights too. Next time you come to Winthrop, be sure to stay at least one night.
Mountain bikers flock to Winthrop Washington to enjoy hundreds of miles of well maintained, easy to access single track and scenic Forest Service roads. Winthrop is the base-camp for every type of ride imaginable. From gentle family-friendly rides, paralleling the Methow River along the Methow Community Trail, to technical, high alpine single-track, the terrain is endless. The locals will tell you that there is a progression of rides that open up as the snow melts off and higher trails become accessible. Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is adding more trails each year.
The Methow Valley has a series of mountain bike maps that cover even more riding options. Trail maps are available for purchase at the sporting good stores in Winthrop and are highly recommended. You can also pick up a free mountain bike informational card at our Visitor’s Information Center as well as at many local businesses.
Pipestone Canyon (Moderate & Advanced)
Pipestone Canyon is a popular destination early in the season (or in the fall!) before other higher elevation rides have thawed out. The ride can be done as a loop of dirt roads or as a loop including single-track along the rim of the canyon. LINK
Singletrack Loop: 14 miles, Dirt Road Loop: 16 miles
Difficulty Level: Singletrack Loop: Advanced, Singletrack & Dirt Road: Moderate
Sun Mountain Trails (All levels)
This system of trails link together to provide just the length and difficulty of ride desired. There are Forest Service Roads, single track, and double track. Wooded sections and wide-open hillsides provide a variety of scenic options. Patterson Lake can provide welcome relief on a hot summer day. Be sure to check out the Thompson Ridge Trail while you’re here. The Sun Mountain Trails are an excellent place to spend an hour or a day of riding. LINK
Buck Mountain (Moderate)
This is the Methow Valley’s signature ride. Fun, fast flowing trails through wildflowers, forest areas and open mountain-top vistas. There are 2 main trailheads to access the Buck Mountain trails with a variety of loop options to enjoy. Recent updates make this trail a single track loop. Look for even more improvements soon. LINK
Singletrack Loop: 14 miles-16 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Cutthroat Pass (Advanced)
This 12 mile round-trip ride is all on single-track in a stunning alpine setting. The trail between the trailhead and the lake is popular with hikers so ride in control. The ride is an out and back, gaining 2300ft. Because of hikers, this is a good ride to do midweek or late in the day. LINK
Singletrack Loop: 12 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Advanced
Angel’s Staircase (Advanced)
This is THE Methow Valley Ride for the serious mountain biker. It requires fitness and an adaptive attitude. The loop reaches altitudes of 8000 feet, so being prepared for varying weather anytime of the year is necessary. This is an all single-track ride that takes a full day, and technical riding experience. LINK
Distance: 25 miles
Difficulty Level: Advanced
Methow Valley road cycling is just as epic as the mountain biking. From the town of Winthrop, road riders can experience a new ride every day of the week without ever having to get in a car. Few regions in the nation can claim such a perfect combination of stunning scenery and practically empty pavement. Here are a few favorites:
Strenuous (60 miles round trip from Winthrop, 30 miles round trip from Mazama) (4 -5 hours)
A fairly strenuous climb that is well worth the effort for the outstanding views and epic descent! This is the defining ride of the valley. Follow the rolling ride up Hyw 20 to Mazama and consider fueling up on baked goods and a cold drink before starting up the Pass. The climbing starts at about mile 15 and is fairly relentless the whole way to the top. Take plenty of water, food and some layers of clothing. While it can be really warm in the valley, the summit of the Pass can be pretty frigid- especially if the wind is blowing! To shorten the ride, start at Mazama or the Freestone Inn. LINK
Distance: 60 miles
Difficulty Level: Advanced
Strenuous Climbing (18 miles) (1.5 hours)
A quick jaunt from town on Twin Lakes Road will take you to the turn-off to the famous Sun Mountain Lodge. From there it is about 7 miles up two fairly steep but not too long climbs to the summit at the lodge. On the way, pass by Patterson Lake and take in the fields of Balsamroot flowers in the spring on Patterson Mountain. The best easily accessible views of the valley are to be found at the Lodge (as well as snacks and fine dining). Turn around for a fast spin back to town. LINK
Distance: 18 miles
Difficulty Level: Advanced
An easy loop ride, on quiet roads of undulating terrain. The route takes you up West Chewuch Road and then back on East Chewuch Road (can be reversed). For the ambitious, the route can be easily added to by continuing up the Chewuch Road to Andrews Creek (actually about 24 miles from Winthrop) which is a gradual climb. Or for those for whom no ride is complete without some suffering, add Boulder Creek Road which offers moderate climbing, or Falls Creek (the local Alp D’Huez) which is very steep at the start, followed by 8 miles or so of constant climbing. LINK
Distance: 14 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy to Strenous
Easy (14 miles) (45 minutes to an hour)
Easy (30 miles roundtrip) (1.5 hours)
A gradual, undulating ride up the Methow Valley on Hwy 20 (busier
than some of the side roads, but with a good shoulder and visibility).
Ride West on Hwy 20 for 9 mi, and turn right on Goat Creek Road for a
slightly hillier but more scenic ride the last 6 mi to Mazama.
Distance: 30 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
Many, many more great road cycling options exist. Pick up a free road cycling informational card at most Methow Valley businesses and well as a free Methow Valley summer map.
Winthrop Washington is a great place to go bird watching. It is host to over 250 species of birds thanks to the great diversity of habitats and elevation contained within the Valley walls and basin.
Any visitor can look forward to an early morning songbird chorus, fleeting glimpse of humming birds, mountain bluebirds on trailside fence-lines, and majestic Bald Eagles along the river. More serious birders may find themselves unexpectedly ticking one species after another off of their life list.
Thanks to the Valley’s extensive
trail system and public lands, visitors will experience exceptional
access to the diverse habitats that are sanctuary to birds and other
wildlife. The Methow River and its tributaries offer dozens of public
access walks, as do the dry shrub steppe hills, rich wildflower dotted
meadows, and vanilla scented ponderosa forests. The startling, steep
cliff walls of the Upper Valley might even grant the patient observer
views of a Peregrine Falcon in action.
Any trail in the Valley promises bird life for a patient observer, but here are a few popular spots:
Winthrop Washington snowshoeing trail network offers something for every ability (or off of it!).
Snowshoeing can be slow and gentle – an opportunity for quiet reprieve far from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Or it can provide a higher paced opportunity for a workout and a destination vista. If you’ve never been on a Methow snowshoe trail, you might try Beaver Loop; a gentle upper-Valley signed path that meanders through cedar forest and beaver chewed cottonwoods along Early Winter’s Creek, or Rader Creek Loop; a higher-elevation, scenic outing at Sun Mountain. Maps are available at the Methow Trails office in Winthrop and most ski ticket vendors.
Where To Snowshoe
Methow Trails hosts snowshoe tours throughout the winter. Local naturalists lead the tours which are about winter ecology, wildlife and tracks, snow and more. These family-friendly tours leave from the North Cascades Basecamp and Sun Mountain Lodge at 11:00 a.m. on selected Saturdays. Tours last 90 to 120 minutes. $5 snowshoe pass required. For dates and times check out the Methow Trails website.
Rentals, passes and maps available at:
Snowmobiling in Winthrop Washington offers everything from high elevation exploring, to riverside groomed tours, and the extensive terrain. All-day rides are common over exceptionally dramatic scenery.
Methow Valley summer Forest Service roads become a veritable playground for snowmobile terrain seekers in winter. There is access up all of the major Valley sub-basins. Favorite kick-off points include trailheads at: Eight Mile, Chewuch Loop and Boulder Creek up the Chewuch basin, Yellowjacket and Goat Creek up the Methow mainstem toward Mazama. Be sure to check out Buttermilk and Libby Creek up the Twisp River Basin. The Methow Valley has access to about half of the county’s 384 miles of groomed snowmobile trails!
For the most part, the Methow Valley has consciously created geographic separation between the nordic ski trails and the snowmobile trails, which enhances everyone’s experience. However, at a few trailheads (Cub Creek) there is shared use for the first few miles. Ride with caution, and respect the experience of the other trail users.
To find out where some of the best snowmobile riding in the valley is happening on a given day check out Methow Valley Snowmobile Association and the Omak Chronicle Snowmobile Guide. Stop by the Methow Valley Ranger District office in Winthrop (509) 996-4000, to obtain sno-park permits and information.
A winter wonderland experience includes sledding in Winthrop Washington. It would not be complete without the simple pleasure of daytime or moonlight sledding!
Families with kids young and old will take delight in the thrill
of sledding down a freshly snowed on slope, coming up for air and
laughing, and running up to do it all over again. Of course, any hill
will do, but for some established, safe sledding terrain consider one of
the following locations:
Loup Loup Ski Area
Just 30 minutes from Winthrop, it is an easy trip to the pass to enjoy skiing, boarding and the undeniably fun tubing on Brown Bear Luge. The tube rental price is $6/day with unlimited use.
Located right in Winthrop, Abby Creek Inn has a sledding hill right
behind the Inn. Guests at the Inn may sled for free. Visitors can rent a
tube for $5. Check in a the front desk for tube rental and more
Winthrop Town Trailhead
Just next the Ice Rink and Winthrop Town Trailhead parking lot is a
fun little hill that is the perfect spot to have some fun. The beauty of
this hill is that part of the family can ice skate or ski, while others
have some unstructured sledding fun – everyone goes home tried and
happy! Bring your own sled. Inexpensive sleds can be purchased at
Winthrop Ace Hardware.
Sun Mountain Lodge
Tucked in behind the Nordic ski practice area is a concave slope that
beckons to be played on. The slope is gentle at the bottom, and steeper
at the top. Sleds are available at the Sun Mountain Lodge activities desk.
A trip to Winthrop wouldn’t be complete without ice skating. When the temperatures drop in November/December, and Jack Frost gets to work in Winthrop Washington, it is time to pull out your ice skates.
Winthrop’s Outdoor Ice Rink
The town of Winthrop is home to the Winthrop Rink, an outdoor ice rink. The rink offers open skating, pick-up hockey, and figure skating every cold day of the winter. Check the ice schedule at the Winthrop Rink website. Rentals and day passes are affordable. The indoor, upstairs viewing room allows the non-skating members of your party to enjoy the experience from a comfortable vista.
Please contact the rink to book the ice for hosting a hockey tournament.
Some winters, even before the ski trails are open, a strange phenomena occurs in the Valley. Locals can’t be found at work or their usual hang-outs, the streets are empty, and school children appear extra-antsy for the bell to ring at the end of the day. That’s because Patterson and Pearrygin Lakes (and even some of the higher alpine lakes) are frozen solid, and the whole community seems to appear on those magical days of lake-skating in the crisp sunny air. Take home message – bring your skates, because you never know what nature might provide.
Heli and backcountry skiing are ideal in Winthrop Washington Perhaps your family or group has a member or two that itches to get off the beaten path. To pack up for the day, and tour and turn in the high backcountry. Most local backcountry skiers will head up Highway 20 for ski-from-the-road access. Another option is to the end of the plowed road and snowmobile in from there. The options are endless in the Winthrop Washington.