Mazama, Washington

Coordinates: 48°35′34″N 120°24′17″W / 48.59278°N 120.40472°W / 48.59278; -120.40472
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Mazama, Washington
A small meadow in Mazama
A small meadow in Mazama
Mazama, Washington is located in Washington (state)
Mazama, Washington
Mazama, Washington
Coordinates: 48°35′34″N 120°24′17″W / 48.59278°N 120.40472°W / 48.59278; -120.40472
CountryUnited States
StateWashington
CountyOkanogan
Elevation
2,106 ft (642 m)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
98833
Area code509
GNIS feature ID1522828[1]
Deer in Mazama on the last stretch of the Spokane Gulch Trail heading towards the Mazama Store

Mazama (/məˈzæmə/ mə-ZAM)[2] is an unincorporated community in Okanogan County (population 158) 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.[3][4]

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.[5] Recently considered little more than a pit-stop, Mazama "town" is centered at the intersection of Lost River Road and Country Road 9140. Mazama offers a general store, an adventure supply store, a gas station, a café, and two restaurants.[6][7] 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.

Etymology[edit]

In the 19th century, the town was called "Goat Creek", after a creek at the base of nearby Goat Peak (then called Goat Mountain).[5] 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 not "mountain goat" in Greek.[8]

According to toponymist William Bright the name "Mazama" originally came from the Nahuatl word mazame, "deer (plural)", from mazatl, "a deer", referring to brocket deer. In the past the word was used locally to refer to mountain goats or bighorn mountain sheep. In 1896 the word was used in the naming of the Portland mountaineering club, The Mazamas.[9]

Ecology[edit]

The Methow River at Mazama

The Methow River flows immediately to the south of Mazama, where it provides spawning habitat to spring Chinook salmon.[10]

Forests of native Douglas-fir and Ponderosa pine are widespread in Mazama and its surroundings, with ample Cottonwood along creeks and rivers.[citation needed]

Over seventy species of mammals are indigenous to the area.[11] This includes the Northern pocket gopher, but ironically, not the Mazama pocket gopher.

Climate[edit]

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: semi-arid Winthrop. Winthrop, approximately 14 miles further down-valley, 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.[12]

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)
112
(44)
109
(43)
103
(39)
101
(38)
84
(29)
65
(18)
51
(11)
112
(44)
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
(−4.0)
31.4
(−0.3)
39.5
(4.2)
46.7
(8.2)
51.8
(11.0)
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)
2.32
(59)
1.78
(45)
1.02
(26)
1.01
(26)
1.03
(26)
0.67
(17)
0.68
(17)
0.80
(20)
1.64
(42)
3.32
(84)
4.05
(103)
22.22
(564)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 35.6
(90)
19.0
(48)
8.1
(21)
0.3
(0.76)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.8
(4.6)
16.7
(42)
39.4
(100)
120.8
(307)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 14 11 9 7 7 6 5 5 5 9 13 15 106
Source: WRCC (normals 1950-2012)[13]

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.[14]

Climate data for Mazama, Washington, 1991–2020 normals: 2141ft (653m)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 29.2
(−1.6)
36.6
(2.6)
46.0
(7.8)
57.5
(14.2)
68.2
(20.1)
74.6
(23.7)
84.5
(29.2)
84.1
(28.9)
74.4
(23.6)
56.5
(13.6)
38.5
(3.6)
28.2
(−2.1)
56.5
(13.6)
Daily mean °F (°C) 22.5
(−5.3)
28.0
(−2.2)
35.9
(2.2)
45.0
(7.2)
54.8
(12.7)
61.5
(16.4)
69.6
(20.9)
68.7
(20.4)
59.4
(15.2)
45.0
(7.2)
31.7
(−0.2)
22.3
(−5.4)
45.4
(7.4)
Average low °F (°C) 15.8
(−9.0)
19.3
(−7.1)
25.8
(−3.4)
32.6
(0.3)
41.4
(5.2)
48.4
(9.1)
54.7
(12.6)
53.3
(11.8)
44.5
(6.9)
33.6
(0.9)
24.9
(−3.9)
16.4
(−8.7)
34.2
(1.2)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.61
(92)
2.35
(60)
1.99
(51)
1.05
(27)
1.13
(29)
1.04
(26)
0.61
(15)
0.54
(14)
0.76
(19)
2.09
(53)
3.84
(98)
4.05
(103)
23.06
(587)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 34.30
(87.1)
19.60
(49.8)
11.20
(28.4)
0.20
(0.51)
0.00
(0.00)
0.00
(0.00)
0.00
(0.00)
0.00
(0.00)
0.00
(0.00)
2.30
(5.8)
17.60
(44.7)
37.90
(96.3)
123.1
(312.61)
Source: NOAA[15]

Geology[edit]

View of Methow River from Goat Wall, Prime Rib, overlooking the Methow Valley

Soils are characteristically Leiko[16] stony ashy sandy loam.[17] Rock types in surrounding areas include Cretaceous Andesite, and Quaternary Alluvium which is mostly in the valley.

Activities[edit]

The Mazama area offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, and mountaineering.

In the 1970s and 1980s, various proposals to build a ski resort on Sandy Butte near Mazama were submitted to the United States Forest Service amid opposition from local residents. It was planned to accommodate up to 8,200 skiers and cost $25 million to construct.[18] The final iteration of the proposal, named Arrowleaf Resort, was withdrawn in 1999 following a ruling by the Washington State Department of Ecology that denied water rights for the project.[19]

Mazama is also the location for one of the Outward Bound School's Northwest locations (NWOBS). NWOBS was founded in 1965.

References[edit]

  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Mazama, Washington
  2. ^ Bolton, Bob; Beavon, Fred. "Washington Placenames Pronunciation". County Highpointers Association. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  3. ^ "Mazama". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. September 10, 1979. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  4. ^ "Goat Peak". ListsOfJohn.com. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Home". mazama.org.
  7. ^ "Goat's Beard Mountain Supplies". Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  8. ^ Meany, Edmond S. (1920). "Origin of Washington Geographic Names". The Washington Historical Quarterly. Washington University State Historical Society. XI: 133. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  9. ^ Bright, William (2004). Native American Placenames of the United States. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 274. Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  10. ^ 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  11. ^ "Mammals of the Methow Watershed" (PDF). The Methow Naturalist. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 15, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  12. ^ "United States Extreme Record Temperatures & Differences". Retrieved November 22, 2008.
  13. ^ "General Climate Summary Tables". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  14. ^ "Soil Survey of Okanogan National Forest Area, Washington" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2008. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 24, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  15. ^ "Mazama, Washington 1991-2020 Monthly Normals". Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  16. ^ "Leiko series". Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  17. ^ "Soil Survey of Okanogan National Forest Area, Washington" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 24, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  18. ^ Balter, Joni (November 23, 1984). "Ski-resort foes miss deadline for filing appeal to Forest Service". The Seattle Times. p. B3.
  19. ^ Solomon, Chris (December 14, 1999). "No peace in the valley". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 14, 2022.

External links[edit]

Media related to Mazama, Washington at Wikimedia Commons