You could say that this is the first entry of many for this particular trip. Travel to the Methow Valley is one of my favorites and I expect that there will be other routes and additional stops in the near future…as there have been in the past. This is essentially a true “within 4 hours reach” event as it takes 4 hours to get to Winthrop, WA without stops. It’s a bit longer depending on the number of excursions and stops along the way. Love road trips! There are a number of routes to get to the Methow Valley from the Seattle area – I-90 Snoqulamie/Blewett Pass, Hwy 2/Stevens Pass or via Hwy 20/North Cascades Hwy. I will report on the Stevens Pass and North Cascades routes at another time. Much of this area along I-90 is known as the Mountains to Sound Greenway. http://mtsgreenway.org/
From the Puget Sound area…off we go to Methow Valley via I-90/Snoqualmie and Blewett Pass. As you head east, break off at Cle Elum if you need gas, grocery or a quick bite before heading over the pass on 970 East to Hwy 97. Jct 2 is approximately 42 miles from East 970. I love the Teanaway area – barns, buffalo, a river off to the right, snow-capped mountains in a distance off to the left. This area is known for its snowmobiling during winter. One day I will go down Teanaway Rd to explore… I typically drive on by to get where I’m going. Along Blewett Pass you will find the Liberty Cafe and Mineral Springs resort. Multiple camping options can be found – Swauk and Mineral Springs camp grounds. I camped along USFS 9738 ten years ago. Fruit stands and orchards lead you to Hwy 2. Taking a left at Hwy 2 will take you to Leavenworth and Stevens Pass but you will need to take a right to head to Eastern Washington. Once on Hwy 2, you will head east come across Cashmere before you hit the more populated Wenatchee.
Cashmere, WA – located just off Hwy 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashmere,_Washington Travel along Cottage Avenue where a variety of cottage-like homes. This part of the historic district pleases as you arrive at the quaint town of Cashmere. I arrived and was pleased to find a town that exudes a sense of history. Aplets & Cotlets www.libertyorchards.com, a unique Washington tradition is located here. You will find goodies galore including the standard Aplets & Cotlets, sweet Walla Walla onion dips, Liberty Orchards jellies and preserves… and the like. We tried the Berry Delights and appreciated the variety. Factory tours are given on weekdays. On a recreational note, Riverside Park is the landing point for a number of the Wenatchee River water rafting tours that are so popular. http://www.riverrider.com/index.htm
Hungry for a bite to keep you going? Anjou Bakery is located in the heart of the Wenatchee Valley along Hwy 2 as you head out of Cashmere. With a variety of baked goods, artisan breads, light lunch fare, or an espresso…it may be just what you need. http://www.anjoubakery.com/. Open Thursday – Monday 7am – 5 pm.
Hwy 97 guides you along many orchards and fruit stands – and we should take note, as Washington State is known for their apples. You can also take Alt 97 which takes you through Chelan (again, another future post). The Hwy 97 route showcases wheat colored, rock clustered hills that sweep along the Columbia River. You will pass Daroga State Park and Beebe Bridge Park along this route. Someday I would like to camp at Beebe Bridge Park as it is nicely manicured and located right on the Columbia River. At Beebe Bridge, keep right on Hwy 97. If heading to Lake Chelan, take the left (or you can pick up Alt 97 just down the road).
Turn left at Hwy 153 at Pateros. BUT, if you need gas or a bite to eat, cross the bridge and you will find it in Pateros, WA http://www.pateros.com/ Check out this site for area information (I noticed a new hotel, Pateros Lakeshore Inn, but have not stayed there). Pateros is a popular spot for waterskiing. In the mood for delicious bread, sandwiches or pizza? Try the Sweet River Bakery http://www.sweetriverbakery.com/ Stop by for wine tasting and live music too!
Back to Hwy 153, you will pass Alta State Park, travel through Methow, Carlton, Twisp, Winthrop and Mazama. You will see at some point that Hwy 153 turns into SR 20… which will take you through the North Cascades. http://www.methownet.com/ is a well-rounded stop for information on the Methow Valley. Whether it be cross-country skiing, downhill skiing at Loup Loup, snowmobiling, hiking, camping, or fly fishing…the Methow Valley has many recreational options to entice you. This particular trip, we stopped at the Winthrop Wine Festival…but other trips have included camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing to visit Falls Creek Falls and taking drives…including a number of visits to Black Pine Lake (beware that there are narrow gravel roads once you start your climb).
Twisp, WA – Twisp http://twispinfo.com/ is located in the heart of the Methow Valley. Twisp is an outlet and showcase for local artists. The Methow Valley Farmers Market and Community Center is located on Hwy 20 and the Farmers Market runs every Saturday during the summer from 9 am – noon. The local artisans sell their crafts… whether it be jewelry, pottery, tomato plants or bakery goods. See a play at the Merc Playhouse or visit the Confluence Gallery http://www.confluencegallery.com/ to view the latest exhibit. Recommendations for dining (that have been tried) are the Twisp River Pub and the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery. At the Twisp River Pub, a great food selection can be had… such as Garlic Pot as an appetizer, Buffalo burger (with blue cheese), Cobb Salad or Thai Peanut Noodles. Check out the remainder at http://www.methowbrewing.com/. A good mix of clientele can be seen…even a wedding party was having their celebration out on the deck. Live music every weekend. Free wireless internet. Fresh brews (as it is made on-site) and other specialty drinks…I particularly liked the Red Snapper. You must not miss the Cinnamon Twisp at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery – YUM! http://www.cinnamontwisp.com/ I also like their bagel sandwiches. Long lines can form here for a fresh breakfast/lunch item (open 6 am – 3 pm on most days) or your favorite coffee/espresso drink. This is a gathering place (and a free Wi-Fi spot) for locals and visitors alike. I understand that Tappi, an authentic italian restaurant, has received good reviews – I would like to try this in the future (the hours of operation are flexible). Take-out has been had at Hometown Pizza as well.
Hey… would you like to mark an item off your to-do list in a more timely manner while you are visiting other parts of the state? An example is getting your boat, car or recreational vehicle licensed. There is a licensing office right in Twisp – check it out! http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/okanogan/vehiclelicensing/Pages/LicensingLocations.aspx
Winthrop, WA– http://www.winthropwashington.com/ Winthrop, a vacation destination with a western flair, has a nice mix of shopping and eateries. Aspen Grove offers nice housewares and Tag products (which I really like). http://www.aspengrovehome.com/ Stop by the Visitors Center for area information including maps and brochures. Say Hi to the nice person manning the VC and be sure to sign the guest book! If visiting in June, schedule your trip to spend an afternoon in Winthrop Park at the Winthrop Wine Festival http://www.winthropwine.com/. Before you go, check to see how many Washington wineries are scheduled to attend as you will purchase tickets for tasting, jazz and light snacks. This event benefits the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce. Check out other annual Winthrop events at www.winthropwashington.com.
Dining in Withrop – Carlos 1800 Mexican Grill and Cantina- what a fun joint! http://carlos1800.com/default.aspx I was really excited to find this treasure. You are greeted with a Hi or a Welcome! immediately by whichever employee is near the door. And it doesn’t stop there – so impressed with the service. Enjoyed the chips, salsa and margaritas. Entertainment is provided select evenings and Carlos 1800 offers free Wi-Fi. We were then off to the Arrowleaf Bistro. Wow! http://www.arrowleafbistro.com/ Now this is fine dining in the Methow Valley! Great food and great wine… fresh, local, organic inspired. Dawn and the staff provided great service. Nice portions with great flavor…oohh especially the mashers that came with the fabulous Bison Meatloaf. Another favorite was the Ellensburg Lamb Porterhouse. All I can say…Wow! Highly recommended. I have tried other establishments in the past but will review those if I go back. A tradition when visiting here is to stop for a generous portion (and selection) of ice cream at Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe.
Lodging options in the Methow Valley area is vast. Again, check out www.methownet.com or www.winthropwashington.com for more info. This trip we stayed with a friend, but lodging has been had at Hotel Rio Vista http://www.hotelriovista.com/ and Methow Valley Inn http://www.methowvalleyinn.com/. In the future, I would like to try the recommended Sun Mountain Lodge (approximately 8 miles from SR 20) and the Rivers Edge Resort. Sun Mountain Lodge will be covered in a future post.