The main thing you need to know about the Methow Valley... in case you don't know already... is that it is just about the best place on planet earth!
It's enough that we have stunning eight- to nine-thousand foot peaks and ridges governing our skylines.
Enough that we have world-class skiing - via helicopter, 120 miles of groomed skate-ski and X-country ski trails, and a cute country ski bowl.
Enough that you can strap on snowshoes or hiking boots, or mount a horse, and escape into two massive Wilderness Areas.
Enough that wildlife abounds everywhere. That freestone rivers cascade from the mountains with wild fish and dynamic rafting chutes. That quiet lakes offer rising Rainbows and Cutthroat. That pristine water, skies and air surround us.
That good restaurants and lodges are plenty, with a rich artistic community, with lots of live theatre and music performances.
Yes, all of this is enough, but there's one more big piece: THIS IS A COMMUNITY OF FRIENDLY, CARING PEOPLE!
That's the essence of this paradise called The Methow Valley.
And now, here are some of the finer details:
The Methow Valley is at the heart of many recreational opportunities. You’ll find miles of hiking trails in the National Forest, North Cascades National Park, several Wilderness Areas and on a variety of State Lands.
The Methow Valley Sports Trail Association (MVSTA), formed in 1977, now offers the nation’s largest Nordic Ski trail system, maintaining 120 miles of groomed trails. The MVSTA is recognized as one of the finest areas in North America for nordic skiing, road biking, mountain biking, trail running and horseback riding. The Loup Loup Ski Bowl, at nearby Loup Loup pass, offers downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Numerous lakes, including Lake Pearrygin, one of the largest and most popular, offer fishing, swimming, boating, water skiing and jet boating. Our three major rivers - the Methow, Twisp and Chewuch Rivers - offer world class fishing and lively river rafting. Bear Creek Golf Course offers a 9-hole course with double tee’s to play 18 holes. Bird and wildlife watching are excellent year-round, hot air balloons are often aloft, snowmobiles benefit from 400 miles of groomed roads, there are several equestrian stables and don’t forget hang gliding and parasailing!
Why is this place so beautiful, undisturbed and under-developed? Zoning is a big reason. Except for town areas, much of the valley floor has a 5-acre minimum lot size. So if you have 9.9 acres you can't divide your parcel. Above the valley floor, in the highlands, zoning restrictions are even more severe. There the minimum lot size is 20 acres! So if you have 39 acres that's how your parcel will stay, unless you get more land from a neighbor or you give land to a neighbor.
Exceptions to the 5-acre and 20-acre rule exist all over the valley, however. Many smaller properties were grandfathered into the system, prior to the more restrictive lot sizes. And now, some land developers are created Planned Developments on larger parcels, with numerous home sites clustered together, surrounded by open space.
Here's a second big reason this place is so beautiful and under-developed. The U.S. and Washington State governments together own a huge percentage of land - in the neighborhood of 90-percent of the Methow watershed!
Slivers of private land lie along the major rivers and extend into ponderosa pine forests below 4000’ in elevation. Much of the privately owned land lies in transition areas between moisture levels and elevations. These diverse areas provide important water, shelter, food and nesting habitat for many species of wildlife and fishes.
All this and there's more. As assortment of land conservancies actively recruit property owners to place voluntary restrictions on their properties - called "conservation easements" - which last for all time, to limit or abandon future development rights. Land owners often receive payment for lost development rights and the private lands then are to remain largely untouched, available for wildlife to flourish. Other conservation easements protect farmland, to encouraging agriculture, and other easements protect river shorelines for fish habitat and health.
There are MANY MORE INTERESTING AND FUN FACTS ABOUT THE METHOW VALLEY - including population figures, economics and weather facts - so make sure you check those out, too!