The Methow River is a favorite of white-water enthusiasts, with many access points and a wide range of conditions, from easy float trips to class III–IV white water. Rafters generally float the river from early May till early July, when the river is running hard from spring runoff but the air is warm and dry.
The sections below Winthrop  grow progressively more difficult as you follow the Methow to the Columbia, 17 miles down river. Black Canyon is the pinnacle, with roller-coaster waves and wild action as the river plunges through dozens of rapids.
One of the best ways to experience the long succession of Methow River rapids is to set aside time for an overnight trip. Orion Expeditions (800/553-7466, http://orionexp.com , $150) operates an overnighter, taking care of all rafting equipment and all meals from lunch on day one. Guests can also request tents, though they will need to bring their own sleeping bags.
For a really incredible experience on and above the water, try the day trip Air-River package from Alpine Adventures (800/723-8386, www.alpineadventures.com , $299). Alpine teamed up with Kenmore Air to give guests the opportunity to fly over the North Cascades from Seattle , landing on Diablo Lake  before being whisked over to the put-in on the Skagit. Enjoy a full river-rafting run on the Methow River and a buffet lunch and then hop in the float plane for your flight back to Seattle. Not only does the flight offer some amazing views, it is also a good way to avoid the hours-long drive up to the Methow.