Shopping in Sisters


When a visitor drives into Sisters on Cascade Ave. they may get the impression that this Western-themed town is similar to many other small towns when it comes to the retail businesses.  Of course, Sisters does have its restaurants and eateries, gift and clothing shops just like the other towns, but it has a lot more. If you can take a little extra time, maybe step away from the main street and discover the businesses that make this creative community of Sisters unique.

As someone who calls Sisters my hometown, I’m guilty of overlooking some of those unique shops too, so I decided to re-visit some of my favorites and find out “what’s new”.

Hood Ave. has some of my favorite galleries like Donterra Artworks, which showcases many local artists with their diverse selections of pottery, outdoor art, furniture, jewelry, and fiber arts.  Next door to Donterra is a new gallery, called Vista Bonita, with a selection of functional art and blown glass pieces.  Down the street is the new Clearwater Gallery, with displays of distinctive western, landscape and wildlife art from Northwest artists, including owner/artist, Dan Rickards.       

What would an historical western town be without its western shops?  There’s the long-time favorite, Leavitt’s Western Wear on the corner of Elm and Cascade with its impressive selection of stylish western clothing and boots.  Another of my favorites is Cowgirls and Indians Resale on Oak St. This western boutique is a favorite with western art collectors and urban cowgirls with a keen eye for quality and a bargain.

If antiques are what you are looking for, then you must go to the intersection of Fir and Hood. With the relocation of Old West Antiques, this is becoming the hub of the antique shops in town.  The only one missing from that location is Kalamazoo Antique Mall,   which is still at its long-time location on Cascade Ave. 

Another group of shops offering that unique shopping experience are the ones with local hand-crafted items.  Sisters Log Furniture has two stores on Cascade Ave. each packed with one-of-a-kind pine and juniper furniture and rustic home décor items.  A little further west on Cascade Ave. is The Jewel, one of the most diverse galleries of gems, minerals and jewelry design I have seen.  I especially love the sterling jewelry cast from plants and flowers.   Canyon Creek Pottery is off the main shopping area, but it is worth the trip over to Adams and Larch.  Ken Merrill’s rustic gallery has a wonderful selection of his functional and decorative pottery.  This is hand-crafted pottery at its best.

Of course, possibly the best hand-crafted business in town would be Beacham’s Clock Shop on the corner of Hood and Oak.  This business is in a class of its own.  Not just because of the amazing selection of clocks and watches, but because of the owners, Ed & Kathi Beacham’s, unique talents.   Ed has been making clocks since the 1970’s and is one of a few clockmakers in the country who designs and builds from scratch, not just the delicate inner workings of a clock, but also the cases that contain and display them.   They have over 1000 clocks in the shop, including an 1870 German castle clock commissioned by King Frederick III and an amazing reproduction of a 15th century astronomical tower clock that resides in Prague. This amazing masterpiece was built by Ed Beacham, master clockmaker.   Try and visit on the hour, so you can get the thrill of hearing the chimes of all the clocks. 


Sisters is constantly changing and new retail businesses are opening up all the time. The shopping in this small town has never been better.


Black Butte Hike

The nice thing about climbing Black Butte is that the road puts you halfway up the mountain before you have to start walking. What would be an eight-mile round trip from the base becomes a four-mile round trip – which is doable between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and dinner. Or, like my hike recently, between dinner and dark.

It takes only half an hour to reach the Black Butte trailhead from Sisters – which was fortunate because the sun was already dropping toward the cloudy horizon. The gravel road up the Butte is in good condition. Only the last half-mile or so require a bit of obstacle-dodging for the normal sedan.

The trailhead is wide and accommodating – it clings to the side of the mountain, but it has enough space for about twenty cars, an outhouse, and a picnic table. A $5.00 fee/vehicle is required, unless you have one of the accepted Forest Passes. These can be purchased directly from the FivePine front desk.

Even though the mileage of this hike is relatively short, it’s not traveled quickly. The first mile climbs steadily through Ponderosa Pines and through undergrowth. The second mile leaves the taller trees behind and climbs more steeply through vegetation stunted by wind, elevation, and recent fires. The angle of ascent becomes so severe in places, it’s almost impossible not to plod slowly, one foot after the other. It’s okay though, because this is where the vistas really begin to open up…and a photo-op is a good excuse to rest.

The trail hugs the western slope of the Butte most of the way up. The perspective you get on Black Butte Ranch is dizzyingly high. The Cascades are in view from Three-Fingered Jack southward as far as the horizon allows. The highway back to Sisters appears as an odd, immense slice through the forest floor.

Ascending the western slope means you’ll get shade if you’re hiking in the morning, and sun if you’re hiking in the afternoon. The time of day determines what kind of lighting effects you’ll get to experience. My particular time of day gave me some fun patterns and effects not only to photograph, but also to be a part of.

When I reached Black Butte’s summit. I tried to push my way through the snowdrifts to the watchtower, but I lost the trail and started getting snow in my boots.

I found a way to the watchtower via the west side of the summit – less snow on that side, of course. There’s some history up there, which you can read about on informative plaques.

The structures on top are anchored to the ground with steel cables because of the wind. The cables make frightening music as the wind vibrates them.

I walked toward the north edge of the summit – the summit is over 100 yards long – and was eventually blocked by the private residence of whoever’s on fire-lookout duty at any given time. It is a charming, weather-beaten cabin with stacks of firewood nearby – made me feel like I was in Switzerland, on the rim of a deep valley, and the mist is rolling in…

When the sun set, the mist above me and the earth around me shone brilliant reddish-gold. Unfortunately, my camera battery had died by then.

The descent of Black Butte was steep and quad-straining, and dangerous in the gathering dark. I twisted my ankle twice, but reached the trailhead safely otherwise. The entire trip, including the drive back to Sisters, took only 4 hours.

If you want to climb Black Butte, make sure to take water, since there is none on the trail. Directions to the trailhead can be acquired at the Forest Service office or at our front desk.