More to Explore in Winthrop, WA

I took an unexpected liking to the little town of Winthrop and it’s Pine Near Campground on my 2014 tour through the Pacific Northwest. I am not typically a fan of towns with an “Old West” theme…too much shtick. But something was different about Winthrop. It felt like authentic Western ambiance, with just enough tourism thrown in to make it convenient. A couple of well stocked outfitter stores, the Old Schoolhouse Brewery, and the cozy Rocking Horse Bakery offered enough to hold my interest as I extended my stay day after day. I compared Winthrop and its little Pine Near Campground to the Hotel California of RV Parks….“you can check out, but you can never leave.”img_7863

img_7808

img_7809

We’d been camped at the Lone Fir Forest Service campground on the east side of North Cascades National Park in what came close to the perfect campground. It was small (only 27) sites, but well spaced out and reasonably level with nice gravel surface. The campground was set amidst beautiful evergreens and golden hardwoods, with many sites offering enough clearing to have a good view of the mountain and the southern sky for solar. A beautiful, wide cobblestone creek ran through the back of the campground providing soothing sounds to make it worth throwing on another blanket just so I could leave my windows open at night. Only one problem…no cell service.

Only 24 miles from Winthrop, it would have made sense to drive further on to our next stop after leaving Lone Fir. But I wanted Don to experience the little town of Winthrop, so we stopped for the night. After several nights of dry camping in the National Park, I was looking forward to the comfort and convenience of the little Pine Near RV Park once again.
img_7812

img_7801

img_7803

One must walk through the Shafer Museum to reach downtown from the Pine Near Campground. This museum is the most extensive collection of (as Diana would say,) “rusty stuff” that I have seen. There are all sorts of antique farming implements, mining equipment, and turn of the century appliances preserved on the grounds of the museum.

img_7840

img_7798

img_7779

"Wilbuuurrr"

“Wilbuuurrr”

He looks like he's done this before! (This was before we saw the sign "Kids, please don't play on the equipment."

He looks like he’s done this before! (This was before we saw the sign “Kids, please don’t play on the equipment.”

As we passed through on our way to town, we were met by a docent of the museum. “Are you folks with the Road Scholar Group?” (“Road” as in tourists, not “Rhodes” as in academia) They had opened up all the museum buildings for one afternoon to accommodate this group, so we were allowed to crash the tour. It was fascinating to learn how such a small town has amassed such a vast collection.

Of course, I am drawn to the written word!

Of course, I am drawn to the written word!

Old Printer's Trays, a popular collectible in my youth.

Old Printer’s Trays, a popular collectible in my youth.

img_7787

Nothing warms me up to a town faster than a good bakery offering unique culinary creations. In 2014, it was the Cardamom Braid pastry at the Rocking Horse Bakery that won me over. This trip, it was the blackberry and lemon curd scone. These guys get it right on everything I sampled.

"My Mother the Car"

Reminds me of the old TV show “My Mother the Car.”

This four-passenger sleigh, built in 1880, was used up until the 1940's at Methow Guest Ranch.

This four-passenger sleigh, built in 1880, was used up until the 1940’s at Methow Guest Ranch.

An early spray pump used in the orchards. Early pesticides included arsenic, lead, sulfur, lime, or nicotine. Give me spots on my apples!

An early spray pump used in the orchards. Early pesticides included arsenic, lead, sulfur, lime, or nicotine. Give me spots on my apples!

As I walked into the bakery, I recognized Anna, the female faction of the couple that owns the Pine Near Campground. When I was here in 2014, Anna was working in the front office. I walked over to say hello again, and she said, “Yes, I remember you! You are the woman who was working from her RV.”

The lovely little Pine Near RV Park

The lovely little Pine Near RV Park

On my 2014 blog post, a reader asked why I didn't include any pictures of the RV Park....so here is a photo of the pull-thru sites.

On my 2014 blog post, a reader asked why I didn’t include any pictures of the RV Park….so here is a photo of the pull-thru sites.

img_7846

Even the Tee-Pees are for rent! They are nice inside, with futons and Native American decor.

Even the Tipis are for rent! They’re nice inside, with futons and Native American decor.

img_7845

Once back in the campground, I ran into Anna again. She offered to show me the new cabins she and her husband, Glen, had just renovated. They took an old storage building, completely renovated it into two cozy, modern cabins, still keeping to the Western theme of the town. So many creative touches add to the ambiance, from overhead lights made from mason jars, to washtub vent-hoods over the island kitchen, and beautiful pine flooring.

The lovely owner, Anna, showing me around the new cabins.

The lovely owner, Anna, showing me around the new cabins.

This one is 2-bdrm, ADA accessible.

This one is 2-bdrm, ADA accessible.

The one bedroom cabin.

The one bedroom cabin.

img_7855

No peaking!

I knew Winthrop was a ski area, yet there weren’t really any steep mountains around tall enough to warrant a ski lift, so I asked what kind of winter activities would support keeping Pine Near open for the winter. I learned that there are over 200 miles of Nordic ski trails leaving right from town. Snowfall is typically sufficient enough by Thanksgiving to support winter sports. On one of my walks, I also came across a massive ice rink, just waiting for the first freeze. What a great winter getaway Winthrop would be!img_7822

Nice walking path across the pedestrian bridge leads to very pastoral setting.

Nice walking path across the pedestrian bridge leads to very pastoral setting.

Wild turkeys

Wild turkeys

Over 200 miles of Nordic ski trails.

Over 200 miles of Nordic ski trails.

The town overlooks the Methow River.

The town overlooks the Methow River.

Unfortunately, the little Pine Near Campground no longer participates in the Passport America program. But they do offer a generous discount for repeat customers….a welcome gesture proving the worthiness of a repeat visit!

18 thoughts on “More to Explore in Winthrop, WA

  1. We have stayed at Pine Near in the past and love the location! Haven’t met these owners tho so looks like another trip to Winthrop is in order! They did a nice job on the cabins. We stayed in a mobile home there once but maybe those are gone now.

  2. I would love to go back to Winthrop in winter (sans RV, of course!) and try some of those trails on skis or snowshoes.
    Nice that you got a discount at Pine Near. That’s a great little campground.

  3. With these great photos, you make me want to go back :-). This is my favorite new homophone “Pine Near”. It took even me (LOL) a few hours to catch on. I am guessing Pioneer was already taken :-)

  4. Looks like a fun place to spend a couple days on our next trip up north…
    We have been following you ever since you and I talked about driving all the way up Highway 1 in Northern California ( We did it in our View towing a Tracker).. Although I saw you didn’t do the drive LoL…. Safe Travels

    • Lee and Sheila! How nice to have you following! I did do as much of it as I could, but had to skip the more southerly parts because my Winnie had to have frame rail extension repair, so I rented a car. But I DID drive the section we talked about on Nina’s blog! Wasn’t it in and out of Fort Bragg? I did do that stretch and LOVED it! It had a few tense moments, but wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Thanks for the encouragement and the comment…

  5. We enjoyed Winthrop last year just a month ahead of the raging Methow Valley fire(s). So glad to see the town has recovered from what must have been a huge hit in their tourism. It is such a great destination.

  6. Now you are in my home territory, as Winthrop is in the Okanogan, and I grew up on the Canadian border on Hwy 97, in Oroville in the heart of the Okanogan, which extends well up into BC beyond Penticton as the Okanagan (as I said a couple of posts ago, way out of your way, and too cold this time of year to enjoy as much as it can be enjoyed during April – September; but terrific wine on the Canadian side).

    It’s wonderful to see how many people have “discovered” Winthrop. Like Leavenworth, it was just a town Oroville competed against in sports, or the town where my cousin ran river rafting trips back in the early 1980s and then built an insurance agency; or the town to take a break along the NC Hwy when going back and forth when home on holiday from college or making the trek from Seattle as an alternate to Stevens Pass/Hwy 2.

    Pete and I stayed at that very campground in 2014, glad you posted the upgrades and that they have “repeat visitor” rates. We have always intended to return, but we didn’t do our NW trip this year.

    Dying to see where your next travels take you. Am sure you’ll see lots of fire scars from the 2014 and 2015 fires – the latter ones actually across Hwy 97 from each other, burning record-breaking numbers of fires and just devastating. Thanks for spending money up there!!!

    Happy travels and all best.

  7. I have Winthrop as a possible stop next summer and now I see we really must try to make it happen. Love the tractors and the old sled. The baked goods sound heavenly :-) The cabins are so nicely done.

  8. Always liked visiting Winthrop, not as over the top themed as the Bavarian Leavenworth. Road Scholars usually have good guides full of information. Great collection. Don’t think I’d want to winter in a RV there. Chilly enough in the fall.

  9. You have found another great spot that I hadn’t been aware of. The rust collection alone would be enough to visit there. I too would like to experience those Nordic ski trails, but that probably won’t happen since it would mean being up there in the winter!

  10. I love Winthrop!! What a cute place:) Clever idea to use the wash tub as a stove top. There is always a “kid” somewhere who can’t read the sign…haha!! Good timing that you were able to join the tour. I had one of those printer drawers back in the day. I’m glad Don explained the name…I’m a little slow at times:) Thanks for taking us along to a place I know we would enjoy:)

  11. Tom and I spent a long afternoon at that museum! It is largely a mining museum… City girl that I am, I didn’t recognize much of the equipment, but Tom did. It is amazing that that old stuff is still around.
    We enjoy the ice cream at the Emporium. Interesting flavors, mostly local.
    This cabins look perfect if we got there on the Goldwing instead of the Rv…

  12. I’ve found that Klipchuck C.G. is farther away from the highway and quieter..Sites to fit anyone and plenty of sky for solar….No cell I’m sure.
    It’s the campground before Lone Pine and is only .8 miles from the turnoff. The 1st time I pulled in I thought the sign said 8 miles and I went Oh…Shoot……Or something similar…..

  13. We really enjoyed our time in Winthrop as well but didn’t delve into it as much as you and your brother. I would go back if I knew they had blackberry and lemon curd scones. :)

Leave a Reply to Suzanne Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *