Methow? And How!

Discover Washington's Cross-Country Skiing Hub
By Peter Stekel
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Skiing Methow Valley
Chillin' in the Methow Valley grooves.

When we woke up, all we wanted to see was so much new snow covering the cars that we could ski right out the front door of our rented cabin. Such things are not uncommon in eastern Washington's Methow Valley; hence it's renowned as a snowy paradise. Sitting at the edge of the Okanogan National Forest, it's a place with some of the best backcountry skiing—as well as the largest system of groomed trails for skating and kick-and-glide—in the Pacific Northwest.

The Methow (pronounced Met-how) Valley usually gets dumped on beginning in October, and the prime skiing season runs between November and April. Being on the rain-shadow side of the Cascade Mountains, the snow is dry and powdery, and the mercury usually hovers in the 20s, unless an Arctic freeze pushes through. For those of us who live on Puget Sound, the Methow is the closest we get to Rocky Mountain powder without going there.

For the past ten years my wife, Jennie, and I, along with many of our friends, have made it a habit to spend a long weekend in late January in the Valley. Last week, we made our usual seven-hour evening drive from Seattle and over Stevens Pass in a normal Cascade blizzard. Visibility was a constant fifty feet, with blowing snow and icy roads.

The storm made us certain there would be lots of snow in the morning, so spirits were understandably dampened when we walked into a hazy day with the thermometer peaking at 45 degrees. Just our luck to stumble into unseasonable warmth. But the great thing about the Methow is tha tit doesn't really matter. There's so much good skiing available, so many places to go, that it's possible to beat the weather and still have a good time.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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