Pacific Northwest Portland

PNW Winter Bucket List: My 2021 Must-Do Adventures

Suttle Lake Cabin getaway -Winter bucket list

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This winter, instead of just listing out all my favorite things to do in Portland during winter, I wanted to have a shorter list of adventures. So I picked a handful of do-able outings given COVID, travel restrictions, and social distancing. So here’s my Pacific Northwest/Portland winter bucket list for 2021.

1. Go tubing on Mt Hood

There are a few different options for sledding and tubing on Mt Hood. This year, I have tubing at Ski Bowl on my list. It looks super fun and I’ve only done regular sledding at snow parks. So I’m excited to try this! They also have cosmic tubing with lights and music at night. We’re going to stick to daytime tubing to start.

2. Cabin camping getaway at Suttle Lake

In early January, we spent a weekend at Suttle Lake Lodge in the rustic cabins near Sisters, Oregon! These cabins are old forest service cabins, like you find at Silver Falls and other State Parks around Oregon. We stayed here just after they had opened in fall of 2015, and since then have only camped at Suttle Lake. So it was fun to experience Suttle in the winter time. We played in the snow, broke through the slushy shore ice to kayak in the lake (hooray for my super portable Oru Kayak!), did the loop hike and had some great campfire time with friends.

Note: It feels like Suttle Lodge is doing a good job with their COVID protocols, and was a nice chance to do distanced cabin “camping” with friends. But it was freaking cold! We froze the first night.

3. Take cross country skiing lessons

I snowboard (and started out downhill skiing occasionally as a kid), but I have never tried cross country skiing. It looks kind of boring compared to snowboarding, but also seems like an interesting way to get around the forest. This is how I know I’m getting older, right?!

4. Oregon coast day trip

Oswald West aka Short Sands is no secret destination these days, but it’s still one of my favorite spots on the coast, in winter too. We made it out a couple weeks ago on a sunny day for a short hike and some beach time. It was worth the drive and nice to get out for a day trip adventure!

Oswald West Oregon coast winter

5. Winter waterfall hikes in the Gorge

While waterfall hikes are always beautiful in the summer, they are wild and amazing in winter too. Just a bit chillier. We made it out to Latourell Falls to do the long loop at the end of December. Hoping to do a few more before spring like Wahclella Falls and maybe Eagle Creek if it reopens again after reopening and then reclosing.

Latourell Falls Hike in February

6. Go snowboarding at Mt Hood Meadows, Timberline or SkiBowl

Snowboarding has really fallen by the wayside for me in the last decade. While I got to Mt Bachelor in March last year, just before the COVID shutdown. It was so fun to get back out boarding and I’d like to kind of maintain that by going at least once this winter! Even just a few runs would be nice.

7. Soaking pool at Edgefield

Last winter, I was going to the Kennedy School soaking pool about once a week with my toddler. And then, of course, COVID arrived and everything shut down. McMenamins recently started selling a soaking pool day pass for $75 for a family. But they are pretty booked up. I’ll report back on this one!

8. Winter Light Festival by bike

Winter Light Festival is one of my favorite February events in Portland. This year will be quite different than other years with installations more like popups around the city. So maybe it will be less crowded and easier to stop by different ones on different days.

9. Cut down our own Christmas tree

This was our second annual Christmas tree cutting adventure. In December we headed up to Mt Hood National Forest with our $5 Christmas tree permit. We brought our snowshoes, but ended up just walking, sledding, and fat tire biking in the snow (on a friends bike, maybe I should add this to my winter list :P)

10. Winter hikes in town

This winter, I’ve spent a lot more time doing mini-hikes in town each week with my kiddo. These hikes are great kid-friendly and easy to do with an extra hour to clear your head. Or to go as slow as possible, stare at critters, and stop for snacks every 10 feet. Our favorites right now are Forest Park, Hoyt Arboretum, Washington Park, Council Crest, Japanese Gardens, and the Columbia Children’s Arboretum.

portland winter hikes

11. Snowshoeing on Mt Hood

I think my favorite snowshoeing experience has been Trillium Lake in winter. But it’s been a few years. I would like to get back there this winter!

Trillium lake snowshoeing

What’s on your adventure winter bucket list this year?