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Sisters, Oregon Travel Guide
Last Updated: Sep-04-2012, Hits: 6,043, Rating: 4, Reviews: 1, Votes: 1 Bookmark and Share
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Sisters, Oregon Travel Guide Hotels and Lodging (13)
Restaurants (20)
Bars and Nightlife (4)
Attractions (35)
Services (10)
Maps (2)
Links (5)
Oregon Travel Forum (20)
Bend, Oregon Travel Guide
McKenzie River Valley, Oregon Travel Guide
Location: North America
Geography: Mountains, Forest
Vacation Type: Family, Adventure
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Moderate
Attractions: Skiing, Shopping, Hiking, Fishing, Festivals, Cultural Attractions, Camping, Boating, Scenery, Golfing, Rafting

Facts and Stats:
Population: 2,038
Land Area: 1.5 square miles
Elevation: 3,182 ft
Country Dialing Code: 1
Area Code: 541
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: US Dollar
Time Zone: Pacific (PST) UTC-8/UTC-7 (Summer)
Current Time:

This travel guide also covers the following communities:
  • Black Butte Ranch - Pop. 366
  • Camp Sherman - Pop. 250
Sisters, sometimes referred to as "Sisters Country", is yet another of the many outdoor playgrounds in Oregon. Hiking, fly fishing on the Metolius River, camping, mountain biking, and horseback riding are just a few of the many summer activities. Winter offers skiing at Hoodoo, tubing, and snowshoeing.

The small town of Sisters is located in Central Oregon in Deschutes County. It is located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and is, surrounded by the Ponderosa Pines of the Deschutes National Forest.

Sisters is 20 miles west of Redmond on highway 126, and 22 miles northwest of Bend on highway 20. 8 miles northwest of Sisters is the resort area Black Butte Ranch. Directly north of the resort is the 3,076 feet (6,436 feet total) Black Butte cinder cone that is made of basaltic andesite. The cone is nearly symmetrical and is an extinct volcano. There is a road that ascends half way up followed by a hiking trail to the summit.

Head just 2 miles northwest past Black Butte Ranch, and you will come across the turnoff for Camp Sherman which lies just 5 miles north of the highway. Camp Sherman is located on the beautiful Metolius River which is a fly fishing hot spot, and a great place for camping or cabin rentals.

To the southwest of Sisters are The Three Sisters Mountains. Each of the 3 mountains is over 10,000 feet and they are the 3rd, 4th, and 5th highest peaks in Oregon. South Sister is a dormant volcano, while Middle and North Sisters are extinct.

Belknap Crater is located just north of the seasonal highway 242, and is responsible for lava fields that can be seen from the highway. Although a difficult hike, it is possible to hike to the summit of the crater. Other prominent mountains in the area include Three-Fingered Jack, Mt Washington, and Mt Jefferson.

Like much of Oregon, Sisters Country was originally roamed by Indians (Tenino and Northern Paiute) who may have used these lands as early as 7,700 B.C. for huckleberry, root and nut gathering, fishing and hunting. They created trails such as those over the McKenzie and Santiam passes, that later became wagon roads.

In 1805, Lewis and Clark were in the region and mentioned the Cascade Range including Mt. Jefferson.

In 1843, explorers, James C. Fremont and Charles Abbot, encounter Indians along the Metolius River.

In September of 1865, Camp Polk was established approximately 3 miles northeast of Sisters' location today. It was established to protect miners and settlers from the Paiute Indian wars that raged throughout eastern Oregon during this time. The camp was abandoned after 7 months after it was found that there were no problems with Indians in the area.

In 1870, Samuel Hindman and his family settled Camp Polk. They were some of the earliest settlers in eastern Oregon. Hindman operated a post office at this location until it was moved in 1888 nearer the current location of Sisters.

In 1901, the town of Sisters was officially platted. For the next few decades, the town was supported by the lumber industry and several mills were located in or near town.

In 1916, the US Forest Service began leasing land for summer homes, and in 1917, the Camp Sherman Store was built.

In 1938, the Santiam Highway opened connecting Sisters to the Willamette Valley.

In 1946, Sisters is incorporated.

During the 1950's, the mills began to close and they were all gone by 1963. Fortunately, improved transportation access allowed the city to turn toward tourism.

Black Butte Ranch was established in 1971, and the resort began selling lots. The next year, the golf course, condos, and other facilities began construction.

In 1978, the City of Sisters passed an ordinance requiring all storefronts to be 1880's style.

In 2006, Squaw Creek which flows through the town, was renamed Whychus Creek.

People & Culture:
To some degree, Sisters lives in the shadows of Bend and Redmond, however, the town's population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 which clearly demonstrates its growing popularity, particularly among retirees. City planners have gone to great lengths to retain the town's quaint, historic charm which means that you won't find much in the way of chain hotels and restaurants here.

Sisters is an arts community, and there are a number of galleries in town as well as art and music festivals. The annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is the largest of its kind in the world.

The Sisters Rodeo is a well-renowned, professional rodeo that has been featured in the New York Times and The Late Show with David Lettermen.

Above all else, Sisters is a retreat for lovers of the outdoors.

Food & Nightlife:
Sisters has good food for a small town, and like much of Oregon, there is often an emphasis on local, sustainable ingredients. Pacific Northwest cuisine and Traditional American food are what you will mostly find here, ranging from diner to upscale.

For those in self-catering accomodations, there are a couple of decent sized markets in Sisters. For those going to Camp Sherman, there is a grocery store and restaurant available. Black Butte Ranch has a couple of restaurants, a couple of daytime snack bars, and a general store.

Sisters has virtually no nightlife, and the nightlife that exists shuts down early. There is a brewery and a couple of bars in town, but if you are looking for something a little more lively, you'll have better luck in nearby Redmond or Bend. The drinking age in the United States is 21 years old.

Money & Costs:
Sisters is a moderately priced destination that is more or less on par with other parts of Oregon. Credit cards are widely accepted, and there are a number of banks in town.

Oregon has no sales tax, but does have a lodging tax that is 10.5% at the time of this writing. Tipping in restaurants follows the U.S. standard of 15%-20%.

Getting There & Around:
The closest commercial airport to Sisters is Robert's Field just 20 miles away in Redmond. The airport is serviced by Allegiant, Delta Airlines, Alaska Air, and United Airlines with flights from Portland, Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Phoenix. The Sisters Eagle Air Airport is just north of town and is serviced by charter flights.

There are a couple of ways to get to Sisters from Robert's Field. Rental cars are available at the airport, or the Cascade East Transit public transportation makes several daily trips to Sisters.

Most visitors arrive by car via the following highways:
  • Highway 22 connects to Salem
  • Highway 20 connects to Albany
  • Highway 126 connects to Eugene
The table below shows the distances between Sisters and other cities.

City Miles
Redmond 20
Bend 22
Eugene 95
Salem 129
Portland 154

The "downtown" area of Sisters mainly consists of about a 6 block span along Cascade Avenue which is very walkable. You will definitely want to have a car to explore the outlying areas such as Suttle Lake, Metolius River and Camp Sherman, and Black Butte Ranch.

The climate for Sisters is predominately a high desert dry climate due to the rain shadow created by the Cascade Mountains. With little rain fall, Central Oregon averages over 250 sunny days a year, but the nights are always cool. Sisters receives 32 inches of snowfall per year.

Below are the current conditions and weather forecast for Sisters, Oregon.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 41 44 52 58 66 75 85 85 76 63 47 39
Avg Low 23 23 27 30 35 40 43 43 36 30 27 21
Precipitation 1.89" 1.35" 0.98" 0.95" 1.21" 0.86" 0.53" 0.44" 0.48" 1.05" 1.86" 1.97"

Important Contacts:
  • Emergency: 911
  • County Sheriff: 541-549-1762
  • Sisters - Camp Sherman Fire District: 541-549-0771
  • Operator: 0
  • Directory Assistance: 411
Tips & Additional Information:
  • The nearest hospital to Sisters is in Redmond.
  • The high desert is home to rattlesnakes. Be careful when hiking.
  • North Sister is the most dangerous of the Three Sisters to climb due to erosion and loose rocks.
  • Sisters was featured on the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! show for having a jail that never housed a prisoner.

Photo Gallery

User Reviews (1)

Reviewed by: sloshed
Review date: Sep-04-2012

This review is for Camp Sherman/Metolius River and Black Butte Ranch since we didn't ever actually go to Sisters. I thought the area was very nice and had a lot of beautiful scenery, particularly the Metolius. The forest here is more sparse, and I think I prefer the more rainforest type of landscape found in the wetter forests in Oregon. Camp Sherman has a number of excellent cabin complexes and it didn't look like you could really go wrong. Dinner at the Black Butte Lodge was excellent, and next time, I'd like to do some golf there. 

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