Old browser warning

Site look funky?  Your browser is either Internet Explorer (hit refresh (F5) several times due to a bug in Microsoft's code that we can't work around) or is 10 years old and standards-based layouts and styling confuse it.   Consider updating.  One excellent option is Mozilla Firefox, versions of which are available for Linux, Mac and Windows. Safari 1.0+ and IE 6.0+ are also supported.

Methow River

The Methow Valley is one of the most important landscapes in the state of Washington and of national significance for outdoor recreation with a diversity of opportunities for the recreational pursuits our members enjoy. Every spring, whitewater boaters enjoy the experiences on the Methow River, Chewuch River, and Twisp River that have easy access for day trips, while the Lost River offers one of the finest backcountry whitewater adventures in the North Cascades.

When the rivers are not flowing, dozens of Forest Service trails and the Pacific Crest Trail pass through the Methow Valley providing hiking and backpacking opportunities. Mountain biking trails that include Slate Peak, Rendezvous Loop, and West Fork Methow, Yellow Jacket, Cutthroat, and Cedar Falls attract riders from across the region. Many enjoy riding the Methow Community trail which connects to other riding areas and the communities of Mazama and Winthrop. Nordic skiers have access to the most extensive network of groomed trails in North America with over 120 miles to choose from. Backcountry skiers explore nearly endless terrain on the east slope of the Cascades. Climbers have easy access to Goat Wall, Fun Rock, and Propsector Wall while winter adventures can include ice climbing at Goat Wall and Gate Creek. For mountaineers, Golden Horn is a trip deep in a Forest Service roadless area that provides spectacular views of the North Cascades. Some of the best alpine climbing in the United States is a short drive up Highway 20 to the iconic Liberty Bell Group and Burgundy Spires at Washington Pass. These alpine destinations also include classic backcountry ski terrain such as Silver Star.

Wild and Scenic

American Whitewater supports designation of the Methow River and its tributaries including the mainstem Methow River, Lost River, Early Winters Creek, Cedar Creek, Chewuch River, and Twisp River as Wild and Scenic Rivers. For the segment of the Methow River downstream of the Forest Service boundary, State Scenic Waterway designation could be considered as an alternative.

The 82.9 mile length of the Methow River from Brush Creek to Pateros Reservoir on the Columbia River was identified as a potential Wild and Scenic River in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory published in 1982 and subsequently found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation in the Okanogan National Forest Plan of 1989. The Forest Service made a formal recommendation that the segment from Brush Creek to the National Forest boundary be designated as Wild and Scenic. The regionally significant outstandingly remarkable values were identified as scenic, wildlife, fish and recreation. The Forest Service notes that rafting and tubing downstream of Mazama has increased in recent years and that the segment downstream of Carlton received an overall recreation rating of high based on whitewater boating and kayaking opportunities.

The 42.8 mile length of the Chewuch River from Tungsten Creek to the confluence with the Methow River in Winthrop was identified as a potential Wild and Scenic River in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory published in 1982 and subsequently found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation in the Okanogan National Forest Plan of 1989. The Forest Service made a formal recommendation that the segment from Tungsten Creek to the National Forest boundary be designated as Wild and Scenic. The regionally significant outstandingly remarkable values were identified as scenic, wildlife, fish and recreation. The Forest Service notes that rafting and tubing use downstream from Camp 4 Campground has increased in recent years and the Chewuch River drainage receives some of the highest amount of recreation use on the Forest. The 28.9 mile length of the Twisp River from the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork Twisp to the confluence with the Methow River in Twisp was found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation in the Okanogan National Forest Plan of 1989. The Forest Service made a formal recommendation that the segment from the North Fork and South Fork Twisp to the National Forest boundary be designated as Wild and Scenic. The regionally significant outstandingly remarkable values were identified as scenic, wildlife, fish and recreation. The Forest Service found only minor amounts of rafting and kayaking but noted that the The drainage receives some of the highest amounts of recreation use on the Forest.

The 14.6 mile length of the Lost River from the mouth of Rampart Creek to the confluence with the Methow River upstream of Mazama was found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation in the Okanogan National Forest Plan of 1989. The Forest Service made a formal recommendation that the segment from Rampart Creek to the confluence with the Methow River be designated as Wild and Scenic. The regionally significant outstandingly remarkable values were identified as scenic, geologic, wildlife, fish. The Forest Service did not identify recreation, but did describe the Lost River Gorge as a deep gorge with a variety of geologic features and formations. This gorge has been explored by whitewater kayakers since the publication of the Forest Plan and is known as a high-challenge backcountry kayaking trip.

Early Winters Creek, tributary of the Methow River that originates at Washington Pass and parallels Highway 20, was found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Plan Revision Proposed Action of 2011. The regionally significant outstandingly remarkable values were identified as scenery and recreation.

Cedar Creek, a tributary of Early Winters Creek, was found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Plan Revision Proposed Action of 2011. The regionally significant outstandingly remarkable values were identified as scenery and recreation.

Mining

The headwaters of the Methow River have attracted the interest of miners for many years, and the antiquated provisions of the 1872 mining laws continue to represent a threat to the health of this watershed. The North Cascades Scenic Highway Zone is currently administratively withdrawn (through 2030) from mineral entry and protected from mining (Public Land Order No. 7739), but this narrow zone does not provide adequate protection for the Methow River and we support extending it and making it permanent.

As evidence of the recent threats, a Canadian Company—Blue River Resources—filed for permits to conduct exploratory drilling for copper on Flagg Mountain on U.S. Forest Service land, in the headwaters of the Methow River near Mazama, Washington. The 1872 mining law allows any citizen or private company to stake mining claims, and the agency must entertain and evaluate such proposals. The low-grade deposit on Flagg Mountain would likely require an open-pit approach and impact a minimum area of six square miles. In our view, the impacts of industrial-scale mining are incompatible with the Methow Valley, its character, and economy. Full-scale mining would cause years of disruption to the area through increased heavy truck traffic and industrial activity, visual impacts, and direct impacts to outdoor recreation. It would also threaten the water quality of the Methow River.


The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.

projects - Methow River

Title Name City
Thomas O'Keefe Seattle WA Details...


Documents

Associated Rivers

low
00h31m
low
00h31m

Associated Projects

  • Methow River
    American Whitewater supports the conservation and stewardship of the Methow River.