About Sisters, Oregon
If all you know about the quaint city of Sisters is that it’s exceedingly popular with tourists (who ooh and ahh over its Western theme and 1880s storefront facades), you´ve only scratched the surface.
Yes, Sisters is almost shamefully scenic, with its close proximity to the Three Sisters Mountains (many people refer to the town as the Gateway to the Cascades because of its proximity to the McKenzie and Santiam passes). So it’s a popular stop-over for outdoors enthusiasts of all kinds, who find ample opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, golfing, snow sports and water sports within an easy drive from downtown (the Sisters Ranger District maintains more than 50 trails). And it’s a hop-skip-and-jump away from some of the best fly-fishing in the country — the headwaters of the mighty Metolius River are found in nearby in Camp Sherman.
It’s rich in culture, with a year-round calendar of arts festivals, concerts and crafts fairs (it’s probably most famous as home to the largest outdoor quilt show in the country, which is always held the second Saturday in July).
It’s a haven for boutique shoppers, offering everything from art galleries and high-end Western wear to handcrafted log furniture, antiques and pioneer collectibles.
It has some outstanding restaurants. And the annual Sisters Rodeo is first-rate.
Then there’s the highly acclaimed Sisters School District, a unified school district with approximately 1,300 students at its three schools (elementary, middle and high), plus alternative programs for high school students schools.
But what you may not know about Sisters is that it’s also an extremely close-knit community of 2,038 citizens. Just check out the town’s local newspaper, The Nugget, which is delivered free throughout town each Wednesday (and quickly disappears). Folks here care about what´s happening in their community and don´t hesitate to speak their mind and get involved.
In part, that may be the case because of the unprecedented growth the community has experienced in the past several years. Back in 2000, the population was just 975, which means that Sisters has grown almost 60 percent in less than a decade. That’s enough to capture anyone’s attention — and it has. The big question here is not just “How will Sisters grow?” but also “Where will Sisters grow?” And “Should Sisters grow?”
Here, where the bulk of the school´s population base of almost 15,000 lives outside the city’s limits, breathing room is still highly valued. In addition to several area subdivisions that feature lots of a half-acre or larger (Tollgate, Crossroads and Squaw Creek Canyon Estates), you’ll find a broad range of housing possibilities — everything from two popular golf resorts (Black Butte Ranch and Aspen Lakes) to small two- to five-acre ranchettes and expansive 20-acre or more horse properties. In the past decade, Sisters has seen the arrival of a handful of new in-town subdivisions, including Timber Creek, Pine Meadow Village, Hayden Homes’ Village at Cold Springs and ClearPine.
Notable commercial developments include the 6,000-square-foot Sisters Coffee Company lodge (which provides just to great coffee but a popular community gathering place), the Sisters Movie House, Shibui Spa, FivePine Lodge & Conference Center, Three Creeks Brewery (also at Five Pine), a new county library and a new City Hall, an expansive shopping center at Ray’s Food Place.
Not surprisingly, some folks who live in Sisters expressly because of its small-town charm aren’t in any hurry to encourage further development. So Sisters (like much of Central Oregon) is at a crossroads. The vote is still out on whether the community will embrace or resist further growth.
Sisters at a Glance:
Population (July 2010 Census): 2,038 (although the population within its school district boundaries is in the neighborhood of 15,000).
Elevation: 3,180 feet
Climate: 14 inches of annual precipitation (mostly snow). Summer temperatures average 84 degrees during the day and 41 degrees at night; winter temperatures average 41 degrees during the day and 21 degrees at night.
Namesake: The Three Sisters Mountains (known around here as Faith, Hope & Charity, but officially called the North Sister, Middle Sister and South Sister).
The video below is a great introduction to the area: