Northwest Destination

A late Geminid meteor and fireworks illuminate dense fog right before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve at Goldendale Observatory.

Goldendale Observatory

From cuisine to art to the starlit sky, things are looking up in Goldendale written by James Sinks Above the Columbia River in Central Washington—past a patchwork of vineyards, sentries of spinning windmills and the weathered farming community of Goldendale—the universe is waiting. In a cavernous dome and with a whir, a refrigerator-sized telescope with a 24.5-inch-diameter lens pivots and focuses, bringing into view distant celestial celebrities like star clusters, planets, galaxies and nebulae. The reflector-style scope is the star attraction—well, along with the stars—at Goldendale Observatory State Park, which invites visitors to climb a ladder for a peek during two free shows, several days a week, on a hilltop overlooking the city. Afternoon sessions are all about the sun, and offer views of the fiery surface that you’re not able to see anyplace else. “No one else does it like we do,” said Troy Carpenter, the observatory director and…

Cruising along Riverside Park in downtown Whitefish.

Spring in Whitefish

Find a world-class experience in a small mountain town written by Kevin Maxphotography by Whitney Whitehouse Whitefish, Montana, may be known as the host for skiers at Whitefish Resort in the winter or as the gateway to Glacier National Park in the summer, but it’s the Whitefish culture of creativity itself that pervades all seasons. No more than 10,000 people live in this small town surrounded by the Salish Mountains to the west and Flathead National Forest to the east, but it nonetheless ticks many boxes for world-class cuisine, hospitality and recreation. In its earliest civilizations, Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreilles tribes inhabited the area, fishing the banks of the Whitefish Lake and Whitefish River as it winds through what is now downtown Whitefish. The outdoors and recreation are still the draw for many Whitefish residents and visitors. For hikers and runners, there are scores of trails in the surrounding…

Sol Duc Falls is one of the most photographed spots in the Olympic Peninsula.

Olympic Peninsula + Forks

In the Olympic National Forest, enjoy the silence (among other things) written by James Sinks HOLD COMPLETELY STILL. Listen. And you will hear absolutely nothing. And that is precisely the point. Like following a map to hidden treasure, we’d ventured 3 miles on the Hoh River Trail into the fern-filled temperate rainforest in Washington’s Olympic National Park. In the shade of towering giants, we crawled under fallen trees, sidestepped through an arch formed by a Sitka Spruce, balanced on makeshift bridges over bogs, and waved hello to a family of pheasant, not knowing who was more surprised. And then, on an overgrown carpet of moss on a massive log, there was the place. The One Square Inch of Silence. The spot—marked by a red-painted stone, about one inch across—helps to draw a remarkable contrast to the world elsewhere, and how relentlessly noisy it can be. Here, in this place, the…

The trail networks around Boise make it a mecca for runners and their dogs.

Boise

Big outdoors and a small Basque community make this Idaho locale worth a springtime getaway written by James Sinksphotography by Visit Idaho Wednesdays and Fridays on Grove Street in downtown Boise, a line of hungry noontime patrons forms outside the Basque Market, as a giant pan of steaming saffron-seasoned paella simmers on an outdoor stove. The biweekly culinary pilgrimage celebrates the city’s Basque heritage, which traces to the influx of immigrants that began arriving in the 1800s from near the France-Spain border. Initially searching for gold in the West, Basques were sought to tend the huge flocks of hungry sheep that once chomped their way through the surrounding high country and range. Today, the Idaho state capital is home to the continent’s biggest Basque community and, while many cities have Chinatowns, Boise boasts the Basque Block. Roam between former boarding houses and shops, experience authentic Iberian fare like pintxos (think…

Phoenix offers desert air with a dash of sprawl. February and March see the flocks of snowbirds descend on the city.

Phoenix

A high desert retreat from the doldrums of winter written by James Sinks No one would blame you for glancing around the room for a Cheshire Cat. It’s a magical world in this dimly lit subterranean speakeasy, where birds are chirping on the speakers, the barkeep is concocting craft cocktails amid greenery, and wall-to-wall video screens offer virtual panoramas of moonlit landscapes. And it’s happening in the most unlikely of places: Down an astroturf stairway in what was once the pit for an oil change shop, northeast of downtown Phoenix, Ariz. On a recent afternoon, we made a reservation at 36 Below—a good idea because the place is tiny, at just 600 square feet—to see if the libations and decor lived up to the hype. We weren’t disappointed in either, especially the smokey whiskey one that arrived in a mock Faberge Egg. The basement bar, hidden beneath what is now…

The holidays in Bovarian-themed Leavenworth are like walking into a snowglobe with good beer.

Leavenworth

Compete your holiday shopping—and find beer and deer—in the PNW’s premier Christmastown written by James Sinks Pretty much anywhere, you can open your wallet and browse for holiday gifts. Yet few places—at least, on this continent—can approach the kitschy yuletide charm of Leavenworth, the Pacific Northwest Christmastown filled with Bavarian-styled buildings, beers, bratwurst, and boutiques in Washington’s north Cascades. Festive holiday shopping is only the beginning. Surrounded by snowy and showy 8,000-foot peaks, Leavenworth offers a wonderland of winter outdoor pursuits you won’t find at any strip malls or retail websites. Fly down powdery slopes at Mission Ridge Ski Area; try nordic trails, tubing runs and ski jumping at Leavenworth Winter Sports Club; navigate sledding hills pretty much everywhere; and—once things really cool down—strap on crampons for ice climbing. If that’s not enough to convince you to start making travel plans, there also are horse-drawn sleigh rides with cocoa and…

A sacred place for tribes, Mount Shasta has become a spiritual draw for people of the Pacific Northwest.

Mount Shasta – Metaphysical Beacon

The spiritual retreat in search of Telos written by James Sinks photography by Discover Siskiyou To some, like meteorologists, the disc-shaped lenticular clouds that frequently form on Northern California’s Mount Shasta are a perfectly natural phenomenon, caused when rising warm air is sandwiched by cooler air above. Yet to others, those actually aren’t clouds at all, but rather flying saucers touching down on the mountain—or maybe they are clouds that are hiding UFOs inside. And that’s just the beginning of otherworldly and magical happenings that are said to happen on or near the 14,179-foot Cascade Range volcano, the second-highest peak in the state. The dual-cone Mount Shasta has long been a centerpiece of spiritual legend, since it was a sacred place for the many indigenous tribes including the Shasta and Modoc who once shared the Siskiyou region, straddling the Oregon and California border. Today, the mountain and unassuming slopeside community…

Flavors of the Far East abound on the Dumpling Trail in Richmond, BC.

Richmond, BC

Immerse yourself in Chinese culture written by James Sinks photography by Tourism Richmond The Canadian city of Richmond, located just south of Vancouver BC, sits a mere three feet above sea level. So, like other major low-lying locales, the place guards against flooding with dikes and pump stations—which here can expel 1.4 million gallons every minute. Yet Richmond has long welcomed a flood of a different sort: The city of 210,000 has attracted waves of migrants from across the Pacific, and today the former farming and fishing community boasts North America’s highest concentration of people who identify as Chinese, at 53 percent. Three quarters of the population is of Asian descent. As a result, just a twenty-five-minute drive from the U.S. border, you can immerse in the vibrant culture and rich flavors of the Far East, from dim sum to spicy hotpots to karaoke. The New York Times in 2018…

Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone is just one spectacle in the spectacular national park.

West Yellowstone

This gateway town is erupting with outdoor experiences written by Tony Camper Old Faithful geyser and its surrounding 2.2 million acres became the United States’ first national park in 1872, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law. Largely in Wyoming, its western boundary and gateway is the tiny town in southern Montana, West Yellowstone. Nordic skiers know it for its hospitality during regional races. Naturalists and adventurers know it for its basecamp amenities while they explore the region. Everyone should know West Yellowstone for the opportunities it presents. In late spring and into the summer, snow recedes leaving hearty trails to hike, singletrack to ride and rivers to fish. If you enjoy all of these, you’re in for an experience you won’t soon forget. When it comes to visiting Yellowstone, we recommend beginning with a guide or tour service. There is an overwhelming amount of territory and history…