Night falls fast.
Methow Valley, WA
Ready for your first winter overnight? Here’s a reliable formula: Take low-angle terrain with reliable snow coverage and subtract routefinding and trail-breaking from your itinerary. On the eastern side of the Cascades, a groomed, 124-mile Nordic trail network makes for good entry-level travel for snowshoers. After a leisurely tour, spend the long night in comfort: The Rendezvous Hut system includes five shelters, each with trail access and bunks for eight to 10 people. From Grizzly Hut (mile 9 on the Nordic trail), ski or snowshoe about a mile up 4,275-foot Grizzly Mountain to views of the North Cascades with 8,898-foot Gardner Mountain front and center. “In our basin you get amazing views without overly strenuous climbs,” says owner Ben Nelson. “And we’re high enough and close enough to the Cascade Crest that we get nice, dry snow.” Those 11,000footers on the horizon dampen the force of Pacific storms, which means ample winter sun for Methow Valley skiers. And pretty much guarantees your first snowy excursion will be one of many.
TRAILHEAD 48.529675, -120.256682; 150 miles east of Bellingham on Gunn Ranch Rd. CAMP Rendezvous Huts (starting at $150/night for the hut); rendezvoushuts.com PERMIT Methow Trails pass required ($24/day) CONTACT methowtrails.org
Big Dominguez Canyon