Escape to These 11 Mountain Towns in the Pacific Northwest

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Whether you’re looking to get away for a ski retreat or want to head up to the mountains to cool down during the summer, the Pacific Northwest has no shortage of incredible towns where you can make this getaway happen. From towns that serve the highest peaks in the region to remote getaways in the furthest corners of the state, there is something for everyone.

If summer hiking is your jam, then this is the perfect time to plan a getaway to many of these mountain towns, as prices are often lower outside of ski season, and there are a near-unlimited number of trails to get you out in the forest and enjoying nature.

This is also a great time to start planning next year’s ski trip, and the Pacific Northwest has plenty of ski towns to offer that range from mega-resorts with all the amenities to small backcountry hills where you can enjoy untracked powder with no lift lines.

Here are our favorite mountain towns around the Pacific Northwest!

Leavenworth, Washington

The Leavenworth, Washington in the Christmas Village
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Located high in the Washington Cascades, this Bavarian-themed mountain town is a bustling place no matter what time of year you visit. During the winter months, the town is transformed by an incredible display of Christmas lights. It is also conveniently located close to both Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge ski areas, so if you’re looking for a ski trip basecamp, it’s hard to go wrong with Leavenworth.

During the summer and fall seasons, the town’s convenient location to the incredible Enchantments Wilderness beckons hikers from across the region who are looking to explore these high alpine lakes and stunning fall larch displays.

Sisters, Oregon

Three horses grazing in a central Oregon meadow near Sisters with the three sisters mountains in the background
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With Bend only 20 minutes down the road, Sisters is often overlooked as a central Oregon mountain getaway. But with charming eateries, plenty of lodging options, and its convenient location close to both the Three Sisters Wilderness and Hoodoo ski area, it is definitely worth a visit.

Just outside of town, there is world-class backcountry access for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers. And with an array of backcountry huts, both rustic and full service, there are plenty of places to warm up after a day in the snow.

During the summer, there are almost too many activities to list, with fly fishing on the Metolius, mountain biking through the Peterson Ridge trail system, hiking Black Butte, or enjoying a warm summer day on the lawn at Suttle Lake Lodge all being incredible options.

Government Camp, Oregon

Sunrise over Mt Hood and Trillium Lake near Government Camp Oregon
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Government Camp serves as a base for the area’s popular ski resorts like Skibowl, Timberline, and Mt. Hood Meadows. Timberline specifically holds the distinction of having the longest ski season in North America, with the Palmer Glacier remaining open to skiing throughout the summer.

This area is also a summertime dream, with trails crisscrossing the mountain and numerous lakes to cool off in after a long day in the warm Oregon summer sun.

The town itself has a combination of ski chalets and condos that offer up plenty of rental options for a romantic couples weekend all the way up to group retreats.

Packwood, Washington

Snow capped Mount Rainier and reflection at Packwood Lake
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Packwood, Washington, is conveniently located between Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams, as well as White Pass Ski Area. This small town is the perfect place to rent a cabin and spend the weekend exploring the woods.

One of the biggest draws of visitors to Packwood is the town is located only 10 minutes from the Stevens Canyon Enterance to Mt. Rainier National Park. This can help you avoid the crowds that frequently line up at the Nisqually entrance and spend more time on the trails in this gorgeous park.

Ketchum, Idaho

Downhill skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho
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Ketchum is smack dab in the middle of the Sun Valley ski resort, with Boulder Mountain to the west and the more mellow Dollar Mountain to the east. This bustling resort is a playground for the rich and famous, and the lift prices reflect this status!

During the summer months the fun doesn’t stop as the nearby mountains turn into havens for mountain biking, hiking, and exploring. With the Sawtooth mountains just to the north Ketchum serves as a jumping off point for epic backpacking trips through this underrated mountain range.

Mazama, Washington

Farm in winter in Methow Valley, WA
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Mazama, Washignton lies within the Methow Valley on the east side of the cascade range. This area’s claim to fame is their extensive cross country ski trail system that winds its way between towns through the valley. Locals and visitors alike love the miles of groomed trails that run along the valley bottom and take occasional detours up through the hills for a lung busting workout.

During the summer Mazama sits at the end of the North Cascades Highway which serves unlimited backcountry hiking and camping options within the North Cascades National Park.

While the town itself is small with only 150 full time residents, there are plenty of inns, hotels, and rental properties available throughout the valley to facilitate your visit to this beautiful area.

Whistler, British Columbia

Whistler Mountain, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada - August 2016: Top of the world trail in the Whistler Bike Park.
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Whistler and its surrounding mountains are probably as close as you can get to a Colorado or Utah-style ski town in the Pacific Northwest. This massive resort and ski area with two mountains connected by a massive 2.7-mile-long gondola spanning the two peaks

With the town of Whistler sitting directly at the base of the ski area you can hop out of your condo or hotel and walk directly to the lifts for a day of skiing, hiking, or mountain biking.

The bustling downtown core is perfect for grabbing a drink and a bite to eat after spending a day in the high country.

Baker City, Oregon

Gunsight Mountain and Anthony Lake in the Elkhorn Mountains of Oregon
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If you’ve ever driven past Baker City, Oregon, along I-5, then you may not think of it as a mountain town. But it is its convenient location to the criminally underrated Anthony Lakes ski area and wilderness that makes Baker City a budget and family friendly mountain getaway.

Rentals and hotels, as well as lift tickets at the ski resort, cost a fraction of what they do at some more popular areas around the Pacific Northwest.

And during the summer months Anthony Lake and the surrounding mountains offer incredible camping, swimming, and hiking opportunities without the crowds.

And this remote eastern Oregon city just keeps offering surprises as it is also home to one of the state’s best breweries in Barley Browns Brewing.

Hood River, Oregon

Mt. Hood from Panorama Point in Hood River, Oregon. Mountain with blue sky and green pastures and orchards.
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Hood River is one of the most ideally located towns in the entire Pacific Northwest. It has the best of both worlds of being on the water of the Columbia River Gorge and the hikes and waterfalls that fill the area along with being only miles from Mt. Hood and its incredible hiking, foraging, and skiing opportunities.

The land between Hood River and the mountain is filled with apple and pear orchards that are jaw-droppingly beautiful and produce some of the best fruit you’ll ever taste.

The city of Hood River itself is filled with bakeries, breweries, and restaurants that will make it hard to leave to do anything else during your visit!

Joseph, Oregon

Eagle Cap Wilderness in Eastern, Oregon near Joseph, Oregon
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Located at the base of the rugged Wallowa Mountains, Joseph is a part cowboy, part tourist town whose remote location has allowed it to not be totally overrun by tourists during its short summer season. The main draw of the area is the Wallowa Mountains and the unique Wallowa Lake, which was formed during the last ice age. The lake is rimmed by some of the best examples of glacial moraines you’ll find anywhere in the world, towering hundreds of feet above the lake’s surface.

The mountains are a backpackers paradise with miles of trails leading to high granite peaks that look like they belong in the alps instead of this remote corner of Northeastern Oregon. If you want to get a glimpse of this stunning range without the work of hiking then hop a ride on the Wallowa Lake Tramway which whisks visitors to the top of nearby Mt. Howard.

In fact, this tram is the steepest 4-person tram in the entire country!

Bend, Oregon

Sunrise Paddle boarding on Sparks Lake in Central Oregon near Bend
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Bend is an outdoor lovers paradise with miles of dedicated mountain bike trails, cross country ski trails, downhill skiing and snowboarding, golfing, and limitless paddleboarding and kayaking on the area’s lakes and rivers. Bend’s size means there is plenty of rental options from hotels to resorts to home rentals so it can accommodate parties of any size.

After a day spent outdoors, head to downtown Bend’s bustling dining scene and grab a meal at Yoli for amazing Korean fare, or stop in at the historic Deschutes Brewpub to sample some of the beers that remain iconic even decades after their original release.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest