The North Cascades of Washington state are one of the most beautiful regions in the nation. Tucked away in the hills lies Methow Valley, a haven for mountain bikers, river-rafters and cross-country skiers.
"The Methow Valley is a great place to cross-country ski for a number of reasons, the biggest and foremost is the huge amount of trails we have, 200 kilometers of trails," said Don Portman of the Methow Valley Ski School.
Methow Valley is one of the biggest cross country ski centers in North America, if not the world. The region was also one of the first to focus on building ski trails.
"You have to realize that this place back in the early '70s was one of the first places to start grooming cross-country trails," Portman said. "Sun Valley has been committed to cross-country skiing for over 30 years."
In Methow Valley, skiing is just the tip of the iceberg. The bustling town of Winthrop is the area's center of activity, with plenty of activities for visitors of all kinds.
"Winthrop is the center of all recreational activities in the Methow Valley," said Carl Miller of the Methow Conservancy. "The confluence of the rivers, the trails … and the wilderness here centers on Winthrop, so we are the starting place for a lot of the tourist activity that happen here."
Unlike much of Washington state, during winter the sun shines on Methow Valley, making it the perfect place for a winter getaway.
"The secret of the Methow is that we get really great weather. People that live in Seattle are used to a rainy, wet winter, but over here it's sunny, dryer; it's colder," Portman said. "There's lots of oxygen, lots of snow, lots of trails and, of course, you look around and it's a beautiful place to be."