Mazama, Washington

Last updated on 18 June 2017

Mazama (/məˈzæmə/ mə-ZAM-ə)[1] is an unincorporated community in Okanogan County (population 200) located in the Methow Valley of Washington, on the east slopes of the North Cascades and North Cascades National Park. It is located along the North Cascades Highway (Highway 20), 14 miles (23 km) northwest of Winthrop and about 28 miles (45 km) south of the Canada–United States border. Mazama's town center elevation is 2,106 feet (642 m), and it is located 2.7 miles (4.3 km) south of and 4,895 feet (1,492 m) below Goat Peak.[2][3]

Founded around the beginning of the twentieth century, Mazama boomed as the departure point for mining towns in the rugged Harts Pass area, such as Barron, Chancellor, and Robinson.[4] Recently considered little more than a crossroads, Mazama is slowly growing to include several lodging options, a general store, a recreational supplies store, a gas station, a café, and three restaurants.[5][6] It has been a destination for summer weddings, rock climbing, mountaineering, and winter sports with options for heli-skiing, back-country and cross country skiing. It is home to one of the world’s longest cross-country skiing trails, stretching for 120 miles (190 km) and running through the settlement.

Mountain Sunflowers Spokane Gulch Trail.jpg
Wildflowers above Mazama on the Spokane Gulch Trail.
Mazama, Washington.JPG
A small meadow near the cabins in Mazama
Deer in Mazama .jpg
Deer in Mazama on the last stretch of the Spokane Gulch Trail heading towards the Mazama Store.

Name

In the 19th century the town was called "Goat Creek", after a creek at the base of nearby Goat Peak (then called Goat Mountain).[4] When the former post office was secured in 1899, the settlers chose a name they thought was Greek for "mountain goat". They later discovered that they had looked in the wrong dictionary and, according to Edmond S. Meany, the meaning of "Mazama" was "mountain goat" in Spanish, not Greek.[7] Mazama is a genus of deer (family Cervidae) comprising the Brockets, medium to small deer that are found in the Americas. The genus name Mazama is derived from Nahuatl mazame, the plural of mazatl "deer."

Prime Rib of Goat .jpg
View from the 11-pitch sport climb, Prime Rib, overlooking the Methow Valley.

Locally, the name is pronounced to rhyme with "Alabama": /mə.ˈzæm.ə/ mə-ZAM-ə. This is not the same as Oregon’s Mount Mazama, pronounced with a broader central vowel: /mə.ˈzɑː.mə/ mə-ZAH-mə.[1]

Ecology

Methow River.JPG
The Methow River at Mazama

The Methow River flows immediately to the south of Mazama, where it provides spawning habitat to spring Chinook salmon.[8]

Forests of native Douglas-fir and Ponderosa pine are widespread in Mazama and its surroundings. Aspen and Cottonwood become increasingly common along creeks and rivers.

Over seventy species of mammals are indigenous to the area.[9] This includes the Northern pocket gopher, but ironically, not the Mazama pocket gopher.

Climate

Mazama has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dsb) with warm, dry summers, and cold, snowy winters. It lies immediately leeward of the North Cascades, which trap much of the precipitation carried from the Pacific Ocean by prevailing westerly winds. This rain shadow strengthens with increasing distance from the Cascade crest: arid Winthrop, 14 miles further downvalley, receives a little over half the annual precipitation of Mazama. Mazama’s relatively heavy snowfall, along with the brief hours of winter daylight in a deep mountain valley, inspired the first settlers to nickname the area "Early Winters."

Washington’s record cold temperature was measured in both Mazama and Winthrop: −48 °F (−44 °C) on December 30, 1968.[10]

Climate data for Mazama, Washington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 58
(14)
55
(13)
74
(23)
90
(32)
97
(36)
103
(39)
103
(39)
103
(39)
101
(38)
84
(29)
65
(18)
51
(11)
103
(39)
Average high °F (°C) 28.7
(−1.8)
36.4
(2.4)
46.1
(7.8)
57.3
(14.1)
66.8
(19.3)
74.2
(23.4)
82.5
(28.1)
82.5
(28.1)
73.2
(22.9)
56.8
(13.8)
37.7
(3.2)
27.7
(−2.4)
55.9
(13.3)
Daily mean °F (°C) 21.1
(−6.1)
27.2
(−2.7)
35.5
(1.9)
44.5
(6.9)
53.2
(11.8)
60.5
(15.8)
67.1
(19.5)
66.8
(19.3)
57.6
(14.2)
44.4
(6.9)
30.7
(−0.7)
21.0
(−6.1)
44.1
(6.7)
Average low °F (°C) 13.5
(−10.3)
17.9
(−7.8)
24.8
(−4)
31.4
(−0.3)
39.5
(4.2)
46.7
(8.2)
51.8
(11)
51.0
(10.6)
42.1
(5.6)
31.9
(−0.1)
23.7
(−4.6)
14.3
(−9.8)
32.4
(0.2)
Record low °F (°C) −32
(−36)
−21
(−29)
−8
(−22)
10
(−12)
20
(−7)
26
(−3)
27
(−3)
32
(0)
19
(−7)
8
(−13)
−14
(−26)
−48
(−44)
−48
(−44)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.90
(99.1)
2.32
(58.9)
1.78
(45.2)
1.02
(25.9)
1.01
(25.7)
1.03
(26.2)
0.67
(17)
0.68
(17.3)
0.80
(20.3)
1.64
(41.7)
3.32
(84.3)
4.05
(102.9)
22.22
(564.4)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 35.6
(90.4)
19.0
(48.3)
8.1
(20.6)
0.3
(0.8)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.8
(4.6)
16.7
(42.4)
39.4
(100.1)
120.8
(306.8)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 14 11 9 7 7 6 5 5 5 9 13 15 106
Source: WRCC (normals 1950-2012)[11]

The average seasonal snowfall for the Mazama area is 119.7 inches, with an average of 136 days per year having at least 1 inch of snow on the ground. The greatest snow depth at any one time during the period of record, 62 inches, was recorded on January 1, 1997.[12]

Geology

Soils are characteristically Leiko[13] stony ashy sandy loam.[14] Rock types in surrounding areas include Cretaceous Andesite, and Quaternary Alluvium which is mostly in the valley.

Rock climbing

The Goat wall and other nearby cliffs have attracted many climbers to this small town. The goat wall at its highest is just under 2,000 feet (610 m) and is considered to be one of the best multipitch sport climbing areas in Washington. In all there's over 70 established routes in the Mazama vicinity. Routes range in difficulty from class 5.6 to class 5.13 and, one pitch climbs to twelve pitch climbs.[15]

References

  1. ^ a b Bolton, Bob; Beavon, Fred. "Washington Placenames Pronunciation". County Highpointers Association. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  2. ^ "Mazama". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 1979-09-10. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  3. ^ "Goat Peak". ListsOfJohn.com. Retrieved 2012-11-14.
  4. ^ a b Smith, Jerry (2011). Boom Towns & Relic Hunters of Washington State. Seattle, WA: Classic Day Publishing. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-59849-120-3.
  5. ^ http://www.mazama.org/
  6. ^ "Goat’s Beard Mountain Supplies". Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  7. ^ Meany, Edmond S. (1920). "Origin of Washington Geographic Names". The Washington Historical Quarterly. Washington University State Historical Society. XI: 133. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  8. ^ Upper Columbia River Steelhead and Spring Chinook Salmon Biological Requirements Committee (March 2001). "Upper Columbia River Steelhead and Spring Chinook Salmon Population Structure and Biological Requirements" (PDF). Seattle, WA: National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  9. ^ "Mammals of the Methow Watershed" (PDF). The Methow Naturalist. 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  10. ^ "United States Extreme Record Temperatures & Differences". Retrieved 2008-11-22.
  11. ^ "General Climate Summary Tables". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  12. ^ "Soil Survey of Okanogan National Forest Area, Washington" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2008. p. 2. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  13. ^ "Leiko series". Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  14. ^ "Soil Survey of Okanogan National Forest Area, Washington" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2008. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  15. ^ "Mazama climbing". Mountain Project. Retrieved 3 July 2015.

Coordinates: 48°35′37″N 120°24′26″W / 48.59368°N 120.40719°W / 48.59368; -120.40719

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