Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pacific Northwest >
May 2, 2014 11:08 PM

any updates about Methow Valley / Winthrop WA?

thinking of going down to Methow - has anyone been recently - any updates? thank you

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm curious too. We will be up there for four nights in July with the toddler in tow.

    3 Replies
    1. re: venice4504

      this thread from last year might help you - the OP was also travelling with young people.

      we go often when the snow has melted.

      if you are driving over the mountains on Hwy 20 - North Cascades - the distance is short however, make sure you leave time for stops at the scenic lookouts and the picnic areas and the short trails etc.

      NB - note that there is not much cell phone service and no gas stations - the last one is in Concrete (definitely Sedro Wooley) , I think - the next one is in Winthrop.

      Here are some stops you might like ----
      from Mt Vernon heading east

      Rockport State Park - picnics only - huge old trees. You need state park visitor ticket (you can pay when you stop there


      Cascadian Farm - easy parking, ice cream! washrooms, fresh berries (this farm is related to the organic frozen brand you see in the supermarkets)

      North Cascades National Park Visitor Center - they have that Jr Ranger passport stamp at the visitor center - it's down a narrow road and not obvious so make sure you look for the signage as you get close to Marblemount.

      EDIT - I meant to say "Newhalem" (not Marblemount) - if you haven't packed enuf for a picnic, this is your last chance for drinks, coffee, in a little store in the main townsite. If your toddler is keen on trains (as in ones like Thomas the Tank Engine), there is a vintage steam locomotive parked near the store.

      now you wind along the Skagit - cross the river, etc. Just east of Colonial Creek campground, there is a spectacular overlook looking over the mountain peaks, the lake (created by the hydro electric dams)

      I also recommend Happy Creek Trail (pretty soon after the scenic lookout) - short trail, it's in the forest, is very easy (a raised boardwalk that a wide-tired stroller could navigate) - very beautiful.

      then continue til Washington Pass - be warned that the viewpoint trail has a 1000-foot drop-off and so I would think twice about walking out there with a young person.
      Perhaps you adults could take turns - it's a short walk from the parking lot and very scenic.

      now you come down the big hill in to Mazama. There are three Ntl Forest campsites coming down in to Mazama if you need a run-around break (outhouses)
      - or a picnic.

      Now - watch for deer. They are everywhere - and do bounce across the hiway.

      It is obvious when you enter Winthrop - big red community hall barn, bridge, then the town. Ice cream at Sheri's is fun. The Rocking Horse bakery is good (coffee, too). See Island Girl's post from last summer - linked above.

      There is an extensive trail system MVSTA (google it)- up around Sun Mtn Lodge are some easy, fairly level ones (Beaver Pond, etc) that you could cycle or walk with a toddler in tow. (park at Chickadee trailhead)

      we like to visit the salmon hatchery in Winthrop (important for the Columbia River Salmon stocks) - they give you a small Dixie cup of trout food - and you go over to the pond and toss it in for the fish. They leap and race to eat the pellets.

      the Red Apple supermarket just south of town (toward Twisp, next to Ace Hardware) has decent selection, prices, produce (veggies).

      Sun Mountain Lodge (a short drive from Winthrop) has a horse-drawn wagon and cook-out dinner that might appeal to a young person - it's fun, I know it's kinda dude ranch-ish, but that's the point. the people who look after the guests are very pleasant and the food ain't bad. You'd have to look on their website to see the prices etc.

      I hope that helps a bit in your trip planning.

      1. re: Georgia Strait

        There's gas in Mazama, at the store, 14 miles west of Winthrop.

        We regularly rent the same cabin in Mazama but it has a full kitchen and we have a dog, so we just cook in. The one food thing I'd say not to miss is the bagels at the Mazama Store. I've never had bagels like that outside of NYC. They are a world apart from what you get in Seattle or anywhere in the west. So good. But you need to get to the store by 7:30 or so. They use most of them for egg sandwiches, and the rest sell fast.

        It's not exactly new anymore, but if you haven't been to Kelly's at Wesola Polana, it's a very pleasant place to have a beer or meal outside.

        And I don't know if this is a fairly recent change, or if just has always escaped my notice because it's in Twisp and we stay in Mazama. But Hank's Harvest Foods (grocery) is great. Good local and specialty products, cheese, wine, and they do a Saturday seafood market where they sell only wild fish. The taxidermied animals on display...I'm not sure if I'm fascinated or repulsed.

        1. re: christy319

          I second the Mazama store - it's a great source for interesting snacks (bulk wild-rice sticks and partially popped popcorn kernels were my favorites last year). It caters to the hipster and yuppie tourists, so there are gourmet chocolate bars, organic snacks, good cheeses, etc. Nothing's cheap,but it's a vacation treat.
          Big Apple in Winthrop has some local finds, like wheat from local Blue Bird farms. Peruse carefully and you'll find some treasures. Their cold beer case is also very good.
          The old-fashioned looking gas station in the center of town, at the intersection of highways, has a great selection of chocolate bars. Again, catering to the snobby tourists (I can say that because I am one).
          Organic foods store in Twisp is good too; again, some local treasures.
          I know none of these are updates, but perhaps they are things fellow travelers hadn't noticed before.

    2. This year WA20 didn't open until May 8. Right after that was the annual 49ers days weekend

      Until Seattle and Vancouver area hounds have a chance to visit, the area Chamber site is probably the best place to learn of any changes.

      1. just went to the Methow Valley - they are working their way back from the devastating wildfires - everyone has a story to share, for sure.

        checked out the supermarkets in Winthrop (Evergreen IGA) and Twisp (Hanks) - I don't really "get" the popularity of Hanks - what with all the stuffed dead lions and other animals - but - there are only 2 choices. I always prefer the IGA in Winthrop next to ACE hardware and the friendly Texaco fuel station.

        (the only thing about the IGA is the bakery section - better to go to Rocking Horse right in the "old west" part of Winthrop

        Sheri's ice cream - it's there as always (20 years approx?) - nice outdoor shaded seating - we just take the kids of all ages in our family for the ice cream

        Rocking Horse - excellent baked goods - good coffee

        Mazama Store - we hadn't been in a while - like a decade - and it's huge now! (by comparison) - felt like a small New Seasons or Whole Pay-Foods. we bought some bread and it was decent enuf. Certainly a nice setting and friendly people.

        Sun Mountain Lodge - main dining room - several $$$ for that meal but wow. nicely presented, discreet professional service, fresh vegetables, local meats, etc.

        Mexican food - we asked several people in our travels which one of the three they preferred:
        Duckbrand (Winthrop)
        Carlos 1814 (Winthrop)
        La Fonda Lopez (Twisp)

        we rec'd varied recommendations - some based on location and budget (ie if you ask the young person working at the bike shop - maybe he has a preference based on proximity and/or budget)

        we tried all three at lunch times - for sure the Duckbrand is scenic in terms of the outdoor deck and big shade trees. The Carlos has an outdoor deck near the river - but it needs to be spiffed up - no plants, nothing really attractive about it - it has potential.

        our favorite by far is La Fonda Lopez - now, the setting is not very pretty - it's on the side of Hwy20 in Twisp in a concrete block building - however, the food was by far the best -

        all 3 of the Mexican restaurants were clean enuf, well priced (we did not buy liquor), friendly and low-key. All 3 offer outdoor seating in shade. We'd for sure go back to La Fonda Lopez in Twisp.
        (it's across from the Chevron gas station)

        5 Replies
        1. re: Georgia Strait

          For me the main attraction of Hanks is (or at least was) their home made smoked meats. But the last time I stopped there was in 2008, shortly after it was remodeled and expanded. Apart from the meats, it was similar to other Harvest groceries in eastern Washington and Idaho, plus some of the amenities that Seattle suburbanites expect in a grocery.

          1. re: Georgia Strait

            So Duck Brand was at least okay? I always loved the deck but the food got so bad at one point--it's been over 10 years since I've been now, so hopefully things have improved.

            All this talk of the Mazama Store and no one got the bagels? You HAVE to get bagels.

            I'm also glad to hear Sun Mt was good--I haven't been there for years either and have wondered.

            1. re: christy319

              re: duckBrand - i have a system for restaurants - we ask for a table - we are seated - then I always say "I am just going to wash my hands" - and I check the restroom (and wash my hands ; ) - hopefully restroom is reasonable if not better (a good sign) ----- and I glance at the kitchen and the rest of the place as I walk thru because often the restroom in many smaller/older places is in a corridor around the back near the storage room (you get the idea) - gauge the staff interaction etc - return to table - and then order or leave with a polite apology excuse. I've never left any place in Winthrop area because one can tell from the get-go I think in most small town places. (that said - I have not read any county health inspections for Winthrop area)

              anyway - the DuckBrand was decent for the price - not "I'm going to drive all the way just to eat there" but pleasant, friendly and clean and certainly the deck is the attraction - it was spicier Yucatan style food. She happily substituted my preferred corn tortilla in place of flour tortilla, so that's a good sign. The guacamole was for sure homemade in appearance and taste in my opinion - and the fresh salsa - it was definitely fresh tomato, onion, cilantro (unlike the odd salsa at the Carlos up the street)

              Sun Mtn - main dining room - definitely - and make a reservation if you have a preferred table (view, sunset, etc or special occasion) - we always splurge once.

              Mazama - oh, next time, I'll try a bagel - the baguette was delicious and decadent for sure.

              1. re: Georgia Strait

                I went to Duck Brand last Wednesday and was surprised to see all of the Asian-ish items on the dinner menu. Most of the Mexican items said lunch only. I ordered a prawn dish that I didn't realize would be a stir fry but it was, and it was terrible. The two ladies next to me asked if they could order from the lunch menu, were told they could, then they raved about the Mexican items they got. *sigh* So if anyone goes, confine yourself to the Mexican items.

                1. re: christy319

                  wow, I'd be surprised too ---- we went at lunch so saw only that menu ---- definitely stick with the Mexican items

                  again, for us, at the Duck Brand, it's the warm weather (summer obviously), the shady deck, the overall atmosphere in Winthrop.

                  ps - in our home town near Vancouver BC, we have families from India (South Asia) making pizza in two different businesses: one a chain franchise, the other a proprietorship - and doing a decent business from all the take-out one sees going out the door - so who knows what "fusion" one finds next in these small Pac NW towns.

          2. i'm adding info for LotusRapper -
            the one important note about Winthrop is parking - esp if you have your full car interest group -

            ... arriving on Hwy 20 from the west - you'd have to park at the "red barn" as you enter town (just west of the bridge) and walk on the sidewalk over the bridge - Sheri's ice cream will be the first place you come to.

            arriving on Hwy 20 from the east direction, park at the winter ice rink (it's outdoors ie only in winter) ie turn LEFT just before crossing the highway bridge in to town - and then turn right in to the parking lot - there is a relatively new and very artistic looking pedestrian bridge (do NOT walk over the highway bridge - very narrow) - the first eateries you'll encounter from that direction are Rocking Horse (coffee and bakery) - and on the uphill side, the Duck Brand - which is an old time place - decent enuf Mexican, clean restrooms and patron area, nice folks - great outdoor patio

            in Twisp - people seem to congregate at the Twisp River Pub - but I'd prefer La Fonda Lopez (right next door, across from Chevron) - a small family operated restaurant (we saw the young children helping to haul the supplies in to the storage room, etc) - the Trip Advisor comments posted recently seem very accurate based on our recent experiences. Parking is limited so you'd have to figure that out in advance if you have several cars in your group.

            watch for deer everywhere in the Methow - and also the motorcycle tourist groups - i've seen a few serious spill-offs down there on Hwy 20

            have a great Saaburday drive!