Monday, May 24, 2010

Chewuch River, Winthrop, Washington

Boondock Destination:  Chewuch River, Winthrop, Washington.

We first found the Methow Valley in 1979 when Susie was hired as the writer-editor on the Early Winters Environmental Impact Statement.  Early Winters was a proposed downhill ski resort located on Sandy Butte.  The concern was the rich and famous would discover the Methow Valley and ruin it forever.  The case went all the way to the Supreme Court where the Forest Service finally won the case, but the ski company ran out of money!

Well, the rich and famous did discover the Methow Valley.  But thankfully, they keep their BMW's parked in their garages and drive into town in old beater trucks.  Yes, the hippes and loggers are still here and the unique flavor of the Methow Valley remains to this day.  We only live a couple of hours south of the valley so it has remained a favorite place of ours.

Most people know of Highway 20, the famous cross-Cascades route built in the 1970's.  We will cover the pass in a future blog, but for now we want to introduce you to the Chewuch River Valley.  Just eight miles north of Winthrop, it is a boondocking and camping location managed by the Forest Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

You will need the Washington Fish and Wildlife parking pass for the state areas and for the Forest Service all you need is your camping stuff!  The larger sites are on state lands, but there are good campsites on both sides of the river.  Here are the Google coordinates for the area:  48 37 25 N 120 09 29 W.  Additional boondocking areas are north and east of the this area.

There are three Forest Service campgrounds in the area, but Falls Creek and Camp 4 are too small for any sort of RV's.  Chewuch Campground is the only one with spurs large enough for RV's.  There are plenty of boondock locations that can handle larger rigs.

This spur can make answering the call of nature in the middle of the night an interesting experience.  Thank god, that RV's have bathrooms!

There is much to do in the area.  A short hike up Falls Creek brings you to a pretty waterfall.  There are lots of trailheads and hikes into the Pasayten Wilderness.  For an easy five mile hike go up Lake Creek to Black Lake.  It was one of our first hikes in the area.  In 1979, the trail went through thick forest all the way to the lake.  The Farewell Fire early in this decade has "opened" up the landscape so you can now see the views!  It is an interesting hike.  Check with the Methow Valley Ranger District on the other hikes.

Also up valley from the camping area is the 30 Mile Fire Memorial and we will cover that in a separate posting.

The town of Winthrop is worth a visit and a stroll.  Wooden sidewalks and lots of interesting stores to charm those dollars from your wallet.  We generally stop for ice cream, or if it is lunch or dinner time we stop at the Duck Brand on the east side of town.  Outside seating with shade trees and the irrigation ditch murmuring past the dinner area makes for an idyllic meal.  There is lots of music and places to explore in the Methow Valley.  It is hard to cover all the activities available.  Let us just say you will not be bored with this small town and environs.  Here is the link to the local chamber that gives local events and activities Winthrop Chamber Site.

All this; a huge wilderness, nice small town, rivers and streams, snow-capped peaks, great restaurants, breweries, and more just minutes from your boondocking campsite.


Box Canyon Blogger said...

Hard to beat the twisp/winthrop area, especially in the fall.

Vladimir Steblina said...

I have to post this comment. Before I retired I reviewed the dispersed camping along the river in October.

It was hunting season. Lots of folks in hunter orange walking around and lots of does walking around among the hunters. I guess the does knew that it was bucks only. I did not see any bucks walking around the hunters!

Anonymous said...

Really good post!

The Chicken Farmers said...

Vlad -
The last pic on this page - do you remember about where that was taken?
I am thinking your off W. Chewuch Road? I am trying to find a special spot and that looks just about right to me. Thanks. Heather

Vladimir Steblina said...

I believe it is right at the National Forest boundary as the road leaves state land.

Hmmm, how come I can remember that and not day it is??