If you're here for the outdoors, then sooner or later you're going to need the Mazama Store, 50 Lost River Rd. (tel. 509/996-2855), a general store for the multi-sport crowd. Not only are outdoor gear and clothing for sale, but there are also gourmet groceries, Washington wines and microbrews, an espresso bar, and a deli.
Fly-fishing is particularly popular in the Methow Valley, and if you'd like to hire a guide to take you out where the fish are biting, contact Flyfishers Pro Shop, 611 Wash. 20, Winthrop (tel. 509/996-2832; www.methowfishing.com), which charges $250 to $350 per day for one or two anglers.
Hikers will find miles of trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail, within a few miles of Winthrop, although the best hiking trails are farther west off the North Cascades Scenic Highway. For information, contact the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forest, Methow Valley Ranger District, Methow Valley Visitor Center, 24 W. Chewuch Rd., Winthrop, WA 98862 (tel. 509/996-4003; www.fs.fed.us/r6/okanogan).
If you want to head for the hills for a few days, but don't want to carry a pack, consider a llama trek. These can be arranged through Deli Llama Wilderness Adventures, 17045 Llama Lane, Bow, WA 98232 (tel. 360/757-4212; www.delillama.com), which charges $140 to $180 per person per day.
If you've come to Winthrop because you're a cowboy at heart, you'll probably be interested in doing some horseback riding. Early Winters Outfitting (tel. 800/737-8750 or 509/996-2659; www.earlywintersoutfitting.com) in Mazama offers rides ranging from an hour ($25) to overnight ($190) or longer.
If you'd like to see the Methow Valley from the air, a hot-air balloon flight with Morning Glory Balloon Tours (tel. 509/997-1700; www.balloonwinthrop.com) costs $185 per adult and $125 per child age 6 to 12 for a 1-hour flight with a champagne picnic at the end of the flight.
With its many miles of gravel and dirt roads, and both national forest and Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (MVSTA) trails that are open to bikes in the snow-free months, the Methow Valley ranks as one of the best mountain-biking areas in the state. Mountain-bike rentals and trail recommendations are available from Winthrop Mountain Sports, 257 Riverside Ave. (tel. 800/719-3826 or 509/996-2886; www.winthropmountainsports.com), in downtown Winthrop, which charges $25 to $30 per day for rentals.
The best rock climbing in the state surrounds the Methow Valley, and if you'd like to hire a guide to lead you (or are interested in taking some climbing lessons), contact North Cascades Mountain Guides, 2 Country Rd., Mazama (tel. 509/996-3194; www.ncmountainguides.com), which charges $110 to $210 per person per day for a day of guided climbing.
May through August is whitewater-rafting season on the Methow River. If you're interested, contact Osprey River Adventures (tel. 800/997-4116 or 509/997-4116; www.ospreyriveradventures.com). Trips are $85 for adults and $75 for children.
With its sunshine and powdery winter snows, the Methow Valley is legendary in the Northwest for its cross-country skiing. The Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (tel. 509/996-3287, or for trail conditions and pass information 800/682-5787; www.mvsta.com) maintains approximately 125 miles of groomed ski trails, which makes this one of the most extensive groomed trail systems in the country. Trail passes are $18 for 1 day ($9 for children ages 13 to 17), $14 for a half-day, or $42 for 3 days. Children 12 and under ski free. Snowshoe passes are also available ($3 per day). The greatest concentration of trails for all skill levels is in the vicinity of Sun Mountain Lodge, while the trails around Mazama offer plenty of easy miles for distance skiing. The Rendezvous area trails are long and strenuous, but have huts that can be rented for overnight stays. For information on renting one of these huts, contact Rendezvous Huts (tel. 800/422-3048 or 509/996-8100; www.methow.com/huts). Rental rates start at $35 per person.
You can pick up trail maps and rent equipment at Sun Mountain Lodge, 604 Patterson Lake Rd. (tel. 509/996-4735); Winthrop Mountain Sports, 257 Riverside Ave. (tel. 800/719-3826 or 509/996-2886; www.winthropmountainsports.com), in downtown Winthrop; Mazama Country Inn, 15 Country Rd. (tel. 509/996-2681; www.mazamacountryinn.com); or Jack's Hut at the Freestone Inn, 17798 Wash. 20 (tel. 509/996-3906). All of these locations offer a variety of lessons or can point you in the right direction for instruction.
If you happen to be out here with downhill skis or maybe want to do a little telemark skiing, try the small ski hill at Loup Loup Ski Bowl (tel. 509/826-2720; www.skitheloup.com), 20 minutes east of Twisp on Wash. 20. It's open Wednesday and Friday to Sunday from 9am to 4pm, and daily lift passes are $36. Although this ski area is small, it does have a quad chairlift. Experienced downhill skiers in search of virgin powder can, if they can afford it, do some heli-skiing with North Cascade Heli-Skiing (tel. 800/494-HELI or 509/996-3272; www.heli-ski.com). A day of skiing that includes five runs and more than 12,000 vertical feet of slopes will cost $875 to $925 per person. However, most people coming here for heli-skiing opt for a 3-day package that includes room, board, and skiing. Overnight yurt tours are also available.
If you're interested in taking a backcountry skiing course, contact North Cascades Mountain Guides, 2 Country Rd., Mazama (tel. 509/996-3194; www.ncmountainguides.com), which offers 2-day courses for $300 per person.