When snow blankets the Methow Valley and the North Cascades Highway has been gated and closed for the season, the town of Twisp marks your entrance to the vast winter wonderland of the eastern slopes of the North Cascades.
Photo by: Juliet Kennedy
First, make sure to secure lodging at one of Twisp’s many hotels or inns to get settled. You may not want to leave the cozy comfort of your hotel, but you’ll be glad you ventured forth (the warm bed will await your return)!
Plan Your Activities
Whether you like alpine or Nordic skiing, fat biking, snow shoeing, ice fishing or ice skating, you’ll find many options in and around the Methow Valley. Although the valley is on the international map for its Nordic trail system, there are plenty of other ways to play on the snow.
Contact the Twisp Visitor Information Center to get some great tips and information.
Loup Loup Ski Bowl is not just your average rural lift service ski area. It’s a gem of a mountain located only 20 minutes from Twisp. With lessons, rentals, a terrain park, a luge ride, a rope tow and a poma-lift in addition to a quad chair, Loup Loup offers diverse terrain in a family atmosphere. Prices are reasonable, lift lines are minimal to non-existent, the lodge always has a cozy fire roaring, and snowboarders and skiers share the mountain. “The Loup,” as it’s known to locals, also grooms almost 23 kilometers of Nordic trails, accessed from the main parking area.
With the largest amount of interconnected, groomed trails in the nation, 120+ miles of Nordic skiing can be found just northwest of Twisp. Methow Trails grooms both classic tracks and skate platforms to perfection from Winthrop to Mazama. They also offer free Saturday ski shuttles to trailheads within their system. If you’re new to Nordic skiing and want to learn from a professional, there are plenty of local options.
Purchase a Methow Valley “Try Winter” Punch Card
Are you more comfortable on a pair of wheels than a pair of skis? We’ve got you covered. Fat biking trails are maintained on parts of the Methow Trails system, as well as at Pearrygin Lake State Park and Lloyd Ranch, both accessed from Bear Creek Road in Winthrop. A casual online social group, Methow Fatbike, can provide you with additional information about the best trails and conditions.
Those wanting a backcountry ski experience can find guided options with North Cascades Mountain Guides and North Cascades Heli. Or if you have the gear and the experience, simply head up Hwy 20 and ski or snowmobile in from there. This is avalanche country, so check conditions, travel with others, and carry the right equipment (and know how to use it!).
If snowshoeing is more your style, you’ll find plenty of choices. Depending on your lodging, some of these options might be right out your back door. Twisp borders US Forest Service land, and intrepid snowshoers can simply take off into the forest.
Those seeking actual trails can either access the snowshoe portions of the Methow Trails system, or drive to the end of Twisp River Road and walk along the section of road that is unmaintained during the winter. Methow Trails also offers free family-friendly snowshoe tours throughout the winter. The photo above was taken at Sun Mountain Lodge, which boasts options for every snow activity we’ve just mentioned!
Photo by: Juliet Kennedy
In the early season, when consistently cold temperatures precede significant snowfall, many of the ponds and lakes around the Methow Valley freeze into smooth sheets of gleaming ice. When such conditions present themselves, local skaters can be found at Frost Pond, Davis Lake, Patterson Lake, and Big Twin Lake, doing everything from walking on the ice to practicing Salchows to playing pickup games of hockey. There’s some great ice fishing to had on the lakes, too.
If you’d rather skate in a certified safe space, head over to the Methow Valley’s local ice rink. There you can find stunning views of the mountains to the north and west, a heated viewing room, and skate lessons and rentals.
The Methow Valley’s six Sno-Parks provide access to 175 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and connections to other areas of the region. Snowmobile riders will find plenty of terrain in the surrounding hills, as well as plenty of sunshine and sweeping views. The Methow Valley Snowmobile Association organizes group rides and reports on conditions. Information about conditions, grooming, trail maps, trail use, event information, and equipment rental facilities can be found on their website and social media. (Read More from the Seattle Times)
When you’re tuckered out from your winter sports, take an easy stroll through Twisp’s galleries and art studios or indulge in a little retail therapy in downtown Twisp / TwispWorks. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, you’ll find a refreshing array of unique, handmade artisan products in Twisp, ranging from jewelry to birdhouses to lifetime reusable bags.
Plus, we’re guessing you’re on vacation, so why not indulge in an afternoon cup of coffee at Blue
If you’re ready for cocktail hour, stop by Glover Street Market’s Saturday wine tasting from 2-6pm in their basement wine cellar.
Or take a ride in an old-fashioned sleigh at Sun Mountain Lodge, complete with jingling harness bells on the draft horses who pull the sleigh. The sleigh ride takes you through the woods to an old packer’s tent, where you will enjoy a cup of hot cocoa before making the return journey.
Are you hungry yet? Let Twisp feed you. Dining options in Twisp range from “Methow elegant” to downright casual, with everything from homemade tamales to curry bowls to wood-fired pizza.
Not sure where to start snacking?
Here’s a Local’s Guide: “Start your day with coffee at Blue Star followed by breakfast at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery or El Valle. If you’re headed out for the day, grab lunch from the deli at Hanks Harvest Foods or tacos from Lonchera Yucatan Food Truck. If you’re in town for lunch, you can’t go wrong with El Valle, La Fonda Lopez, or Fork Food Truck. Dinner choices, including Branding Iron and Twisp River Tap House, are numerous and none will disappoint.”
Now back to your hotel for a cup of tea and a good book, or to simply climb in bed and watch the snowflakes fall outside your window.
A perfect winter day. And you get to wake up and do it all over again tomorrow.
Winter in Twisp – we welcome you to enjoy it with us!
You don’t need a cup of coffee when you have live entertainment at the Merc Playhouse. There’s also most likely live music or trivia at the Twisp River Tap House and OSB Taproom, along with karaoke or pool tournaments at the Branding Iron. Or just take a walk around town, enjoying the crisp air and the crunch of snow under your boots.