Planning a Northwest Winter Getaway

Ideas for Northwest Winter Getaways

Winter Storm Rolling in at Ecola State Park in Oregon
Winter Storm Rolling in at Ecola State Park in Oregon. Getty Images/Daniel Hershman

Snow-capped mountains and frost-covered trees define the Northwest landscape during the winter. Wild wind and crashing waves pound the Pacific Coast. These conditions create the setting for fun and cozy winter vacations. You can cuddle by the fire with hot chocolate and board games after a day of rigorous play in a snowy wonderland. Or savor a glass of Northwest wine and local cheese while looking out over a stormy ocean beach.

Here are some top recommendations for winter vacation destinations in the Northwest US:

Winter Storm Watching on the Pacific Coast

Most people think a winter vacation involves heading to the snow-covered mountains and forests. And while that's popular, the Pacific Northwest offers a thrilling alternative - storm watching. The storms that roll in over the Pacific pound the Oregon Coast and the Washington State Coast. It's particularly thrilling to watch the huge waves crash against Pacific Northwest's rugged rocky beaches. Some folks choose to brave the elements, heading to key viewpoints to watch the wild waves. Others prefer to watch from inside, in the comfort of a waterfront cottage or condominium, feeling cozy and enjoying a warming treat. Whichever option you choose, Pacific Northwest storm watching is a thrilling experience that is extremely conducive to good times with friends and family.

Emerging Snow Sports in the Northwest

The Northwest is a huge year-round playground for all kinds of recreation and is the birthplace of any number of new sports. Recent developments in winter fun include fat tire snow biking, which is like mountain biking on the snow. Fat tire bike rentals are now available at many Northwest ski resorts. It's not new, but snowshoeing has also become increasingly popular in recent years. Many guided snowshoe trips and workshops are available.

Winter Events & Festivals in the Northwest

The chance to attend a fun festival or special event is just one more reason to plan that Northwest winter getaway. Here are some of the Northwest's best:

Winter travel and recreation pose some unique risks and challenges. For your safety and comfort, be sure to carry the recommended gear and equipment.

Winter Driving Safety
The folks at Take Winter by Storm recommend that you pack the following in your car. It's a good idea to prepare a kit at the beginning of the season and just keep it in your car all winter long.

  • emergency contact card
  • flares
  • extra warm clothing and sturdy walking shoes
  • blankets
  • rain ponchos
  • first aid supplies
  • small shovel and traction aides (sand, litter, chains)
  • local maps with pre-determined evacuation routes identified

Winter Recreation Safety
If you are headed into the backcountry for such recreation as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling, the experts with the Wenatchee National Forest recommend you bring the following on your person:

  • extra food
  • extra clothing
  • map
  • compass
  • knife
  • matches
  • fire starter
  • first aid kit
  • sun glasses
  • flashlight
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