The great thing about family is, when they come to visit, you have an excellent excuse to explore the Methow Valley in ways you otherwise would not. For example, when I have a free day, I’m usually filling it with laundry, or pulling weeds or shamelessly burying my nose in a good book.

But when family comes to town, they usually aren’t too thrilled to watch me fold socks, so the pressure is on to find some sort of activity that shows off the whole reason why we moved to the Methow in the first place.

We called up Methow River Raft and Kayak in Winthrop and found they offered a full-day rafting trip down the lower valley, which was also recommended as the most scenic. The Gold Creek Run includes Class II and III rapids, along with leisurely float time for people who like to take a breather in between all the exciting white water rapids.

We dropped our car just south of the town of Methow and met our river guide, Shiah Lints. Shiah took us back up river to put in somewhere between Carlton and Gold Creek.

Lints gave everyone a short training session on water safety before bundling us all up in flotation devices. Sadly, there were no water wings. Just life jackets. With a shove off from shore, we dipped our paddles in the water and guided the raft down river.

The river in the lower Methow Valley curves between cliffs etched with geological timelines, and shorelines dense with bird nests and scenic orchards. The river responds to the ebb and flow of rock with corresponding rapids and calm areas.

A blue heron landed along the water’s edge, and a mother duck hurried her little ones down stream. At one point, a tepee overlooks a bend in the river, an elaborate rock wall holding the bank in place.

Lints is an expert on reading the water. He pointed out eddies, holes and boulders way before any of us spotted them. He regaled us with humorous stories of different sections of the river, comically named, “Rocky’s Demise,” “Fat Lady,” and “Taco Time.”

The “Taco Time” rapid is no longer as severe as it used to be – like everything related to the river, it changed over time. But in its wild days, a raft full of people got stuck in the hole, folding the boat like a taco. The raft then bounced out, popping open and tossing everyone into the air. Definitely a comical site to see, if you weren’t the one in the middle of the taco.

For more information on rafting the most scenic part of the river, visit, or call Methow River Raft & Kayak at (509) 341-4661.

Every year the throbbing metropolis of Methow celebrates “Washington’s Shortest Fourth of July Parade and Picnic.” Grab your spot on Main Street, and then join everyone for a potluck picnic by the Methow Community Center. The firemen will be roasting hot dogs and serving up lemonade. Please bring a salad or dessert to share.