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Your guide to Winthrop
Welcome to Winthrop
This 1883 Gold Rush settlement has stuck to its guns, becoming an Old West theme town complete with Washington’s oldest legal saloon. The north-central mountain outpost of Winthrop is a jumping-off point for outdoor adventures in the glacially carved Methow (“Me-tow”) Valley, including lakes ideal for fly-fishing and paddling. Cross-country skiers will find the biggest system of Nordic trails in the country here.
Winthrop is also a popular base for the Pasayten Wilderness, 531,000 acres fringing the Canadian border. This rugged, remote area within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest straddles the crest of the Cascades and has almost 150 mountains topping 7,500 feet. The contiguous states’ largest population of lynx live in this wilderness, among the moose, bighorn sheep, and gray wolves. With so much beauty all around you, don’t forget to look up in Winthrop. On clear nights, the tiny, low-lit Winthrop and its surroundings reveal a blaze of stars — and sometimes even the Northern Lights.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Winthrop
Western Washington’s rainforests and lush maritime climate give way to high, dry steppes to the east. Winthrop sits at the northernmost edge of the “Sagebrush Sea” that once blanketed much of the American West. Expect heat and clear skies in summer, with cold settling in from mid-November to mid-February. July and August remain best for outdoor activities.
Events-wise, February brings a snowshoe softball tournament, while photographers swoon over March’s Winthrop Balloon Roundup. Check out May’s 49er Days, a festival of Western history. As the weather warms up, don’t miss mid-July’s Rhythm & Blues Festival. Round out the year with September’s Steampunk Rendezvous and a cowboy Christmas extravaganza in late November.
Top things to do in Winthrop
Dry Falls State Park, 109 miles southeast of Winthrop, shelters one of the most staggering landscapes along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail. Ice dams near the modern border of Idaho and Montana burst repeatedly, sending wave after wave of water toward the Pacific. The biggest were equal to ten times the output of all the world’s rivers combined. Together they sculpted this 3.5-mile basalt chasm with a drop of 400 feet — which would’ve made Dry Falls wider and taller than Niagara Falls.
Shafer Historical Museum
Prospect for Western nostalgia with the Shafer Historical Museum’s collection of artifacts and historic buildings. Peer into Washington’s pioneer past through exhibits featuring sackcloth dresses, plows, windmills, and mining equipment.
This cultural campus occupies an old ranger station, 9 miles south of Winthrop. It includes food trucks, a nursery, artist and artisan studios, and a free interpretive center honoring the original Native inhabitants of the area. Originally funded by anonymous donors, this dynamic project became self-sustaining after ten years in 2019.