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Showing posts with label Winthrop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winthrop. Show all posts

Winthrop Balloon Roundup

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Along with Leavenworth, Winthrop is another great theme town to visit in Washington state. Winthrop is a spectacular vacation destination with a Western flair.  Known for the American Old West design of all the buildings in town, this small town offers amazing adventures all year round.

Winthrop is home to the nation's largest cross-country skiing location, with over 120 miles of groomed trails. In winter,  Winthrop is home to an award-winning outdoor ice rink, an alpine ski area, backcoutnry skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing, sledding and world-renowned snowmobiling.

In spring, this town hosts its annual ( now 17th ) three-day Balloon Festival. During the first weekend in March, the skies of Winthrop brighten with the brilliant colors of over a dozen hot air balloons flying over the magnificent Methow Valley.  It's an incredible visual display as the balloons fly over the old western town of Winthrop and with the snow-capped mountains of the North Cascades as a backdrop.

For those wishing to go aloft, Morning Glory Balloon Tours offers flights once a day, approximately one hour after sunrise when the winds are calmest.

Delta Shelter - another reason to visit Mazama, WA

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Located in the North Cascades, the Methow Valley is the four season milti sport destination for adventurers of all ages and skill levels. With warm, dry summers and snowy winters, the valley is known for its first class cross country skiing in winter and mountain biking in the summer.

Last year I enjoyed snowmobiling and cross country skiing in Winthrop.
Originally, I wanted to ski hut to hut at the Rendezvous Huts in the Methow Valley, but due to lack of time had to opt for a short trip on the Sun Mountain trail.

I'm thinking about going back to the Methow Valley this summer. The gentle 17-mile Methow Valley Community Trail between Mazama and Winthrop is open to bikes in the "off-season."

Though, I have to admit that another reason to visit the Valley wold be a stay at one of the Rolling Huts.
While they look just OK in summer time...

...in winter - they are absolutely gorgeous !

Guided snowmobiling tours in Winthrop

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Not being able to get my "snowmobiling fix " in Chelan, I jumped on a great opportunity to go on a guided four hour snowmobiling trip in Winthrop.

Snowmobilers use Winthrop for their adventures into the North Cascade Mountains. Two popular snowmobiling parks near Winthrop are Boulder Creek and the Eight Mile Creek sno-park on the west side of the Chewuch River. The latter was the one, we went to for our tour. Here, sledders can cruise up one of the most popular, accessible and spectacular destinations around Sweetgrass Butte.

The tour was organized by Don Lundgren, the owner of the Chewack River Guest Ranch. The Ranch is conveniently located just 10 minutes away from downtown Winthrop. You have the choice of two and four hour guided tours. If you are an experienced rider, you can rent a snowmobile for a full or half day ( 4 hours), and they will deliver it to the trailhead ( minimum two riders/snowmobiles required). For guided trips they provide all the gear ( sled,full tank of gas, helmet, snow suit, boots ).

The ride itself was awesome. Having two guides ( one leading, another "sweeping") provided a safe and fast pace. Unfortunately, the weather that day ruined the whole experience . Thick fog, that set in over the weekend, obstructed the panoramic views of the entire Methow Valley.

In my opinion, exploring the backcountry with a guide is the best option for visitors who don't know the area or winter safety practices. While learning how to operate a snowmobile is the matter of minutes, there is more to it when it comes to your personal safety. Lot's of things can go wrong : you lose control of your sled, damage the machine, get stuck in the deep snow, run out of gas, get lost in the backcountry....

Another reason I prefer guided snowmobiling tours is that they are planned, hassle free, safe and fun adventures ! You don't have to load/unload, transport, fill in with gas, fix it, think where and how far you want to go... Besides, snowmobiling is not something I would personally do on a regular basis.