Most visitors hit Osoyoos, B.C, and assume that the Okanagan Valley ends at the border. In some respects it does: it morphs into the Methow Valley, which hides between Okanogan (they spell it differently) Forest and Lake Chelan National Recreational Area—it's a largely undiscovered area. Nobody happens upon the Methow, but those drawn here, be they explorers like David Thompson in 1811, Slate Creek gold miners in 1886 or today's anglers and hikers, rarely feel the urge to go anywhere else, anytime soon.
Twisp Visitor's Guide
The valley was formed by the meanderings of the Methow and Twisp rivers, Columbia River tributaries that run alpine pure for outstanding bank- or float-fly fishing, or picnicking beneath a cover of cottonwoods. The rivers merge in Twisp, home to the Twisp River Pub (201 N. Methow Valley Hwy., Twisp, Wash., 509-997-6822, methodbrewing.com), serving local ales (including the famed oatmeal stout) as well as comfort food, and featuring live music from near (plenty of excellent musicians call the Methow home) and far most summer nights. Go to Methow Valley Arts (methowvalleyarts.org) to see what singer, potter or lute player is in residence when you travel.
Water Sports in the Methow River
The Methow River resides in the valley like an aquatic trampoline. Blue Sky Outfitters (206-938-4030, blueskyoutfitters.com) tempt the adventurous to bounce through Black Canyon's Class III-IV rapids and invites the mellow to bop along the Class II-III white water in the Gold Creek section of the river. Guided fishing excursions with seasoned outfitters float the river daily. A more casual tubing of the river between Winthrop and Twisp remains a requisite activity when the desert sun calls "last one in is still really hot!" The Mountain Transporter (509-996-8294) will take tubers from take-out back to car.
Hiking and Biking in the Methow Valley
To size up the 45-mile valley from on high, take a moderate hike to the Goat Peak Look-Out (Methow Trails, 509-996-3287, mvsta.com) or stretch it out for a more challenging trek along Maple Pass Loop. Most of the Methow Valley's 120 miles of groomed Nordic ski trails moult like a snowshoe hare into single-track mountain bike paths in the summer. The Twisp River Trail provides a great intro to mountain biking, while experienced pedallers can ascend three miles uphill on the Buck Mountain Loop, choose from a dozen paths and then drop back into the valley.
Where to Eat and Sleep in the Methow Valley
As in our Okanagan, plenty of urban culinary expats have relocated to the Methow and diners reap the benefits. Try a wood-fired pizza—like the bianci with garlic and chevre—at Tappi (201 Glover St.,Twisp, Wash., 509-997-3345, tappitwisp.com) in Twisp or head up the road to Western-themed Winthrop and dig into Arrowleaf Bistro's chicken fricassee (253 Riverside Ave., Winthrop, Wash., 509-996-3919, arrowleafbistro.com). Sunsets and post-sunset slumbers are best caught from Sun Mountain Lodge (509-996-2211, sunmountainlodge.com), the area's superlative place to hang your fly rod, park your bike and remove your hiking boots. The sprawling 3,000-acre resort has every manner of outdoor activity but still keeps it civilized with a spa and the best wine cellar in Northern Washington. wl