Just a few final thoughts on Winthrop.
A half-day drive from Seattle, and we feel like we’re worlds away.
The pace of our lives slows. Playing in the dirt jumps to the top of the priority list.
Soaking up the sun, eating ice cream before dinner, and marveling at the scenery are also high on the list.
Our favorite route for getting to all this happiness is Highway 20, the North Cascades Highway. It was still closed for the season when we came up for the Sunflower Relay and Marathon, but if you believe that the journey should be as amazing as the destination, then this is the route for you. Though it takes us more time than traveling via I-90, the jaw-dropping views of the mountains and Diablo Lake are worth it. We get out and stretch our legs on some of the short hiking trails, and although it turns the drive into an all-day event, no one seems to mind.
Lodging in Winthrop doesn’t come cheap. There’s the decadent Sun Mountain Lodge. There are also gorgeous cabins on Patterson Lake. Luckily for us, you don’t have to be a guest of either place to enjoy the restaurant or rent canoes and enjoy a refreshing row on the lake on a summer day. We shared a great house at the Cascade Condominiums with another family.
But my favorite place to stay is the KOA in Winthrop.
I stayed at my share of KOA campgrounds as a kid, and this is not a statement I ever thought I’d make. In fact, when friends told me what a great place this is, I was more than a little skeptical. But it’s so affordable compared to the other lodging options in the area that Nacho Man and I decided to give it a shot.
We’re so glad we did.
This is a wonderful, family-run camp on the banks of the Methow River. You can pitch a tent (in fact, the tent campers are closest to the rivers), bring your RV, or rent a cabin. We’ve rented cabins twice in the past. They’re rustic but clean, and Lupe and Rue love the bunk beds. The Methow Valley gets HOT during the summer, but there are several air-conditioned cabins as well as a new restroom facility that offers to most privacy I’ve ever seen at a campground. There’s also a swimming pool and a general store where the kids like to see how far they can stretch a quarter. Everyone’s friendly. My girls can ride their bikes on the gravel paths that wind through the campground. We like to fall asleep to the sound of the river, our bellies full of camp food and s’mores.
The location can’t be beat, either. The Red Apple, the only grocery store in the area, is just up the street. It’s open 8am-8pm, so we city-slickers can’t expect to run out at ten at night to stock up on avocados and face cream. And it’s only minutes from the town of Winthrop, with its faux-faced western storefronts and boardwalks that lead to delicious ice cream, miniature golf, an independent bookstore, and fun shops that you can enjoy whether you’re on a Sun Mountain Lodge or KOA budget.
I fell in love with this little number at The Retro Pony:
This is the “Dang Cowgirl” t-shirt. It’s very cheeky. I told the owner that the $40 price tag was a little too steep for me, and she mentioned that the same t-shirt is available in the Sundance catalog for $58. Her price has made for a lot of happy customers.
Maybe I’ll be one of them on my next trip.