The charming town of Sisters is surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature in central Oregon, and despite its tiny population, it has plenty of things to keep visitors entertained. The downtown streets are lined with cafes, restaurants, and art galleries displaying local and international art, and in the winter, you can ski or snowboard at the nearby Hoodoo Ski Area. Of course, there are endless opportunities to enjoy the area's natural beauty during the rest of the year as well, and popular options include hiking to Proxy Falls, fishing in Three Creeks Lake, or driving along the spectacular 82-mile McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Loop.
Nestled in the mountains at an altitude of more than 3,000 feet, Clear Lake is known for its exceptionally clear water, which allows visitors to see the unique petrified forest that lies beneath the lake's surface. A picturesque hiking trail runs around the lake's perimeter, and kayakers and canoers can paddle across the water for a birds' eye view of the underground trees. Visitors will have to purchase a Recreation Pass in order to enjoy some of the day-use areas around the lake, and there's also a small fee for anyone who wants to launch their own boat onto the water.
© City of Sisters
There are plenty of things to see and do in and around Sisters, but even if you're only here for a short while, it's worth taking some time to relax and enjoy the town's charming downtown core. The community is named for the striking Three Sisters mountains that loom in the background, but it's best known for its historic architecture and its Old West atmosphere, which are particularly noticeable on Main Street downtown. There are plenty of art galleries and shops selling antiques and Western apparel to explore, and once you get hungry, you can pop into one of the many restaurants or bars.
3.McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Loop
Stretching for 82 miles through two of the most beautiful Cascade Mountain passes in Central Oregon, the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Loop is one of the best road trips in the state. The loop begins and ends in Sisters, and it passes through some jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, including lush river valleys, grasslands, and black lava fields dotted with snowy peaks. There are plenty of viewpoints, but if you have a bit of extra time, you can also take a short detour to Scott Lake, hike out to Proxy Falls, or spend some time marveling at the impossibly blue water of Tamolitch Pool.
Boasting a drop of 226 feet off a glacier-cut cliff, Proxy Falls is one of the tallest plunge waterfalls in the state, and it's also one of the most easily accessible. The start of the 1.6-mile trail to the falls can be found right off Highway 242, and depending on which direction you take it, you'll end up at either the Upper or Lower Falls before continuing on to the other. The trail is open year-round, but the best time to go is between March and November when there's less of a chance of snow.
OR-242, McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413, Phone: 541-822-3381
5.Hoodoo Ski Area
Located near the summit of Santiam Pass in the central Cascade Mountains, the Hoodoo Ski Area is one of the oldest ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest, and it boasts more than 800 acres of terrain served by 5 lifts. The 34 runs vary in difficulty from green to black diamond, and the mountain also offers a freestyle terrain park, a handful of cross-country trails, and an exciting tubing park. Night skiing is offered on certain runs Thursday through Saturday when conditions permit, and lessons are available for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities.
27400 Big Lake Road, Sisters, OR 97759
6.Alder Springs Trail
© Alex Green/stock.adobe.com
Only 20 miles outside Sisters, the Alder Springs Trail is a moderately challenging 6-mile hike that descends down into the colorful Whychus Creek Canyon and ends at the bank of the Deschutes River. Part of the trail goes right through Whychus Creek, and as the water levels can be quite high during the spring and early summer, hikers are advised to bring water shoes and trekking poles to make the crossing easier. The trail is open to hikers and bikers between the beginning of April and the end of November, and leashed dogs are welcome.
7.Three Creeks Lake
Sitting at the base of the Tam McArthur Rim, Three Creeks Lake is a 28-acre alpine gem surrounded by spectacular old growth forest. Its crystal-clear waters are kept well stocked with brook trout and rainbow trout, and visitors can fish either from the shore or from a boat, although only non-motorized boats are permitted. Brave swimmers can also take a dip in the refreshingly chilly water, and there are several hiking trails in the forest around the lake. If you want to spend the night, there's a first come first served campground on the edge of the water.
Three Creeks Lake Road Sisters, OR 97759, Phone: 541-480-6645
8.Raven Makes Gallery
Established to represent the artwork created by North American Indigenous Peoples, the Raven Makes Gallery displays an incredible selection of traditional and contemporary art created by artists from all over North America. The diverse collection of artwork includes everything from Coast Salish paddles to Navajo rugs to contemporary paintings and prints, and there's also a large collection of beautiful jewelry made from silver, gold, beads, and colorful stones. All of the pieces on display are for sale, and the gallery is dedicated to ensuring that the prices are fair to both the artists and the buyers.
182 E Hood Ave, Sisters, OR 97759, Phone: 541-719-1182
9.Upper Chush Falls
Part of Whychus Creek, the Upper Chush Falls is a spectacular 200-foot waterfall that can be reached via a 6-mile out and back hiking trail. The trail winds through new growth pine forest and a section of forest that was ravaged by a fire in 2018 before ending up at a beautiful overlook. Most of the trail is a fairly easy climb, although there are two short steeper sections, and hikers sometimes have to climb over fallen trees. The falls are part of the Three Sisters Wilderness, and all visitors are required to have a permit, which can be obtained from the trailhead.
, Michigan beaches
10.The Collection Gallery
Owned and operated by local sculptor Gary Cooley, the Collection Gallery is a wonderful place to visit if you want to see a beautiful collection of local artworks. Many of the pieces on display were created by Cooley himself, but the work of several other local artists is featured as well, and most of the pieces on display are available for purchase. If the sculptures in the gallery inspire you, you can also purchase an at-home sculpting kit that comes with clay, paint, sculpting tools, and access to a series of four online sculpting classes
353 W Hood Ave, Sisters, OR 97759, Phone: 541-968-5430
© Imagination Gallery
The Imagination Gallery is another of the wonderful art galleries you'll find in downtown Sisters, and it's proudly owned by metal sculptor Ken Scott. All of the works are made of metal, but they vary in design and function, and highlights of the collection include the unique steel wall sculptures, the whimsical pieces of garden art and furniture, and the handcrafted light fixtures. Most of the pieces on display are Ken's own, but artwork by other talented artists is usually on display as well, and shipping can be arranged if you decide to make a purchase.
222 W Hood Ave, Sisters, OR 97759, Phone: 541-912-0732
12.Sisters Coffee Company
© Sisters Coffee Company
Founded in 1989, the Sisters Coffee Company is a family owned and operated coffee roastery that sources its high-quality beans from farms all around the world. When the business was first started, it was housed inside a small log cabin, but it has since been moved to a 6,000-square-foot cafe with a stone fireplace and a cozy, rustic feel. The coffee menu offers everything from espresso drinks to nitro cold brew, all of which are made with the company's own beans, and a small menu of breakfast items is offered until 1 p.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on weekends.
273 W Hood Ave, Sisters, OR 97759, Phone: 541-549-0527
13.Sisters Meat and Smokehouse
© Sisters Meat and Smokehouse
Housed inside a rustic red barn, Sisters Meat and Smokehouse is a local meat market that sells smoked and cured meats, wild game, and high-quality cuts of meat including beef, pork, and lamb. The meats are all smoked and cured in-house, and if you're looking for something they don't have, it's likely that you can place a special order with the friendly staff. The shop also has indoor tables and a welcoming covered porch with seating, and if you're hungry, you can order a delicious smoked meat sandwich and wash it down with a pint of local beer.
110 S Spruce St, Sisters, OR 97759, Phone: 541-719-1186
© Depot Cafe
Offering excellent fresh deli options and its delicious coffee, the Depot Cafe is a quirky cafe with a model train running around the inside of the ceiling. The menu offers a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and breakfast dishes, and plenty of coffee drinks are available as well. The leafy patio behind the cafe is the perfect place to enjoy your meal on a warm summer day, but if you're in a hurry, you can call your order in and take it to go instead. Breakfast and lunch are served every day except Tuesday, when the cafe is closed.
250 W Cascade Ave, Sisters, OR 97759, Phone: 541-549-2572
14 Best Things to Do in Sisters, OR
- Clear Lake, Photo: riosamba/stock.adobe.com
- Downtown Sisters, Photo: City of Sisters
- McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Loop, Photo: shannon/stock.adobe.com
- Proxy Falls, Photo: wisanuboonrawd/stock.adobe.com
- Hoodoo Ski Area, Photo: nuclear_lily/stock.adobe.com
- Alder Springs Trail, Photo: Alex Green/stock.adobe.com
- Three Creeks Lake, Photo: Francisco/stock.adobe.com
- Raven Makes Gallery, Photo: lijphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Upper Chush Falls, Photo: duke2015/stock.adobe.com
- The Collection Gallery, Photo: mikeosphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Imagination Gallery, Photo: Imagination Gallery
- Sisters Coffee Company, Photo: Sisters Coffee Company
- Sisters Meat and Smokehouse, Photo: Sisters Meat and Smokehouse
- Depot Cafe, Photo: Depot Cafe
- Cover Photo: mtatman/stock.adobe.com