3 Winter Destinations to Cure Your Cabin Fever

From storm-watching escapes to a trio of Oregon hot springs, we've got your answer to seasonal wanderlust.

By Rachel Ritchie November 23, 2015 Published in the December 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Don Hankins


The best thing about the Oregon coast? It is just as intriguing during a winter deluge as it is in the sun-washed summer. Come December, nothing beats cozying up on some beachside bluffs, watching storms roll through with intermittent patches of brilliant sunlight. Our stretch of the Pacific offers many storm-watching options, but it’s hard to beat the view from a lighthouse’s perch. Owned by the US Forest Service and managed by an executive chef, the Heceta Head Lighthouse B&B sits on a windswept promontory between Florence and Yachats, just steps from the 1894 lighthouse itself. The Victorian-style B&B offers a decadent seven-course breakfast featuring artisan cheeses and homemade pastries. We like the Mariner’s Rooms, each with a private bath and spellbinding views.

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Image: Jonathan Ley


True Northwest adventurers must spend the night in a lookout tower. The US Forest Service manages 20 of these soaring structures in Oregon and Washington, some still used to spot wildfires in the summer. In winter, they become backcountry snowglobes, ready to welcome any explorer up for a backpack-laden trek. Three towers await on Mount Hood—but you’ll need to book up to six months in advance. From Clear Lake Cabin lookout, four miles from Skyline Sno-Park on the mountain’s southern slope, you’ll find a panorama of snow-dusted treetops, alpine lakes, and Cascade peaks from your 40-foot perch (open November–May). Fivemile Butte lookout sits in a dense forest east of Hood, three miles from Billy Bob Sno-Park (year-round). Eleven miles from Billy Bob, Flag Point lookout may be the most grueling journey, but rewards are plentiful: on a clear day, Mounts Adams, Rainier, Jefferson, and the Three Sisters are all likely to make an appearance (open November–May).


Rain or shine, a day at the hot springs offers a definitively Oregonian brand of rejuvenation—and there are thermal pools for every kind of soaker. At Terwilliger Hot Springs (also called Cougar), you’ll find a sequence of five rock-rimmed pools tucked in a pristine forest along the McKenzie River. Closer to Portland, at the end of a short hike into the Mt Hood National Forest, the historic Bagby Hot Springs awaits with a mix of public and private soaking pools in a rustic wooden bathhouse. For a more exclusive experience, head for Breitenbush Hot Springs, where you can reserve a day pass for the forest retreat’s collection of soaking pools and cedar sauna, or opt to stay the night in a woodsy cabin.

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