Published: October 2009Best Adventure Towns

Sisters, Oregon

Plan a long weekend getaway with our Sisters adventure guide, featuring great outdoor escapes, where to stay, and where to eat. Then chime in with your picks.

Photograph courtesy of Gary Miller

Pop. 1,910
GPS: 44°17'N 121°32'W

Sisters is often chalked up as just a small cow-town. But set as it is against the 4,817-foot Santiam Pass, in the fertile Willamette Valley, surrounded by peaks, rivers, and forests, we see Sisters for what it really is: a mecca of hiking, rafting, road-cycling, and mountain-biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Your Turn: Tell us about your favorite Sisters adventures, restaurants, and hotels in the comments section below.

In the summer, take on the Class III rapids of the McKenzie River. The Wild and Scenic waterway starts at over 10,000 feet in elevation, before drifting through the Cascade Range, and then plummeting through the pine-lined banks of the Three Sisters Wilderness ($73 for a one-day trip; Just outside of Sisters is the famed Black Butte, a hikable extinct volcano that offers views of the Three Sisters mountains, Three Finger Jack, and Mount Washington. For the avid climber, Smith Rock State Park—known as the birthplace of American sport climbing—is a 45-minute drive northeast and offers over 2,000 different routes, as well as year-round hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and horse-back riding ( If you visit during the winter months, Mount Bachelor, a 45-minute drive southwest, offers up some of the best runs in the west, on 3,683 acres of skiable terrain ($49 for a one-day lift ticket;

Cool down in Sister’s desert heat (summer temperatures can stay at 100° for days at a time) at the town’s roadside staple, Sno Cap Ice Cream (541-549-6151). For heartier (and a bit pricier) fare, the creative, southern French menu at Jen’s Garden is hard to beat (

FivePine Lodge, located at the base of the Three Sisters Mountains, is gorgeously constructed from natural wood and river rock, around existing trees (doubles from $149;

email a friend iconprinter friendly icon   |   
Join the discussion

National Geographic Adventure is pleased to provide this opportunity for you to share your comments about this article. Thanks for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Recent Comments
  • Sisters is NOT in the Willamette Valley, rather it is east of the Cascades. For trail info, best sou…
  • For snowshoeing tours go to
  • Favorite place to eat: Martolli's Pizza Favorite things to do: Horseback ride or hike the Pacific Cr…
  • Check out for great hiking and snowshoeing trails in and around Sisters, OR.
  • I'd love to hear about more trails to hike around Sisters, or possibly some snowshoeing routes. I'm …
Read All »