Cross-Country Skiing Photos: Methow Valley, Washington

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Washington's Methow Valley slots into the east side of rugged North Cascades National Park. In summer it's a busy tourist destination—a sublime three-and-a-half-hour drive from Seattle on the North Cascades Highway. In winter, that road is chocked by heavy snow, adding an hour to the drive, and assuring visitors a solid measure of solitude.  
Credit: Paul Butler 
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Winter in the Methow Valley has become one of the world's great Nordic skiing destinations—and with good reason. The valley boasts 120 miles of regularly groomed track suitable for classic or skate skiing on flat and hilly terrain. And you can link all of the trails together without stepping foot in a car.  
Credit: Don Portman 
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The towns of Twisp, Wintrop, and Mazama lie on the banks of the Methow River, famous in its own right among fly fishermen; rainbow and cutthroat trout abound in the summer, and winter brings steelhead. On a given winter weekend, as many anglers wade into the river as skiers hit the trail.  
Credit: Mary Kiesau 
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Start your ski tour at the historic Sun Mountain Lodge, perched high above the west side of the valley. The rooms do not have televisions (though they are rigged for wireless internet), but the hotel spa, heated swimming pools, ski shop, and backdoor access to the lodge's ski trails should provide plenty of entertainment.  
Credit: Sun Mountain Lodge 
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Sun Mountain boasts two restaurants and a bar, each with separate menus, all three serving up the same unparalleled North Cascades view.  
Credit: Sun Mountain Lodge 
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Methow Valley is also one of the few Nordic centers that allows canines on the trails—more than 30 miles are designated dog-friendly. It's common to see hyper-fit locals pulling their offspring in these cozy chariots as well.  
Credit: Danica Kaufman 
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The Methow's most adventuresome trails lie largely on snow-covered Forest Service roads (and one suspension bridge) on the valley's forested east side. Intrepid skiers can take advantage of five backcountry huts stashed around the Rendezvous trails.  
Credit: Dave Chantler 
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These rustic cabins sleep eight, but you can reserve the entire hut. They are heated by woodstove, lit by propane, and accessed only by ski, though the Methow Valley Sports Trail Association (MVSTA) will haul your provisions and gear to any of the five huts by snowmobile for a modest fee.  
Credit: Rusty Grass 
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In addition to maintaining the trails (for which they charge a daily trail fee), MVSTA also organizes ski races, which range from pro-caliber events to the Doggy Dash, a human-canine ski event which took place this year over President's Day weekend.  
Credit: Ed Stockard 
 
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