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phynx

Where to live

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Hello,

 

I currently live in CO, Front Range area, not far from Loveland Pass. I'm thinking about moving to WA in a couple years and I'm looking for some suggestions on finding that small mountain town, similar to where I'm at right now.

 

Basically, looking for something about 30 minutes to a ski resort, cheap to moderate rent, TONS of trails and access to backcountry. Any help would be appreciated.

 

Thanks,

J

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There's not really a lot of mountain towns in Washington. In my opinion, the only place that fits what you describe is Leavenworth.

 

I don't think I'm biased because I live there, and I'll be the first to admit its not paradise on earth.

 

Positives are proximity to good climbing, especially bouldering and alpine; close to a decent resort and decent backcountry (better if you own a snowmobile); decent amount of trails, though there needs to be more; there's a good outdoor community here; and we're close to Wenatchee, which provides employment opportunities for residents.

 

Negatives are that its touristy, especially in the summer, and a bit kitschy; limited nordic trail system; employment can be challenging depending on what you do; and we're a bit geographically isolated - if you want to make a trip to Rainier or Baker, for example, its a bit of a drive.

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The only other places I'd consider living in Washington would be Bellingham and Ellensburg, which are both college towns. Bellinghams cool because you've got the ocean right there, awesome mountains nearby, and good local trails. Negatives are distance to the mountains / skiing (1 - 1.5 hours) and its on the wetside of the mountains so shitty winter weather.

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I always thought Cle Elum might be nice with a sneak attack to Snoq Pass when good, but not in the raining misery of North Bend.

 

I couldn't handle the drive up to Baker from Bellingham.

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I used to live in Cle Elum / Roslyn for a short time and my wife is from there originally. Its actually a pretty cool place, interesting historically, with some decent trails and proximity to some awesome mountains.

 

There's not much of an outdoor community there though and not really any climbing nearby to speak of. Good place to live though if you like to drink; and/or ride your snowmobile.

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Index would be great, provided you work from home. Also, Glacier falls into that category. But, if you're like the rest of us and need industry to support a job. Look into North Bend, Ellensburg, and Cle Elum as CC mentioned. Many people like to dis the 90 corridor, but for access and convenience nothing else compares.

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I just moved out to North Bend from Seattle and I like it so far. I live about 1 mile from several trailheads that provide just about any distance of daily training runs/hikes I want and there are a handful more trailheads within about 15 minutes drive. Extend to 20 or 25 minutes and you can access everything in the Snoqualmie Pass area, which has a ski resort.

 

The resort is at a lower elevation than the other resorts in Washington and gets a bit less snow, but there are extensive backcountry options for skiing and alpine climbing in the area, which are pretty popular.

 

I would hesitate to call North Bend itself a "mountain town" though. Some neighborhoods can have that feeling (mine does, a little bit), but other areas seem to be getting developed into prefab suburbs. I think a lot of people just happen to live here but spend most of their time commuting to Seattle for work, and aren't necessarily into "mountain life" or outdoors recreation.

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I'll just throw it out there, what about White Salmon? Its still WA.. 40min to Mt. Hood Meadows.

50min to Mt. Adams. Goat Rocks a bit further (in summer). Columbia river gorge with lots of year around activity.

 

certainly not the variety of alpine terrain around towns mentioned above but, take a gander, it may call to you/Hood River right across the way in OR. Theres a little different note with the Gorge (watersports, low elevation), and its more towards the dry-side of the E/W spectrum than towards the wet-side.

 

 

 

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Two places come to mind that meet your need to be 30 minutes to a ski area, cheap to moderate rent and close to the back country are Cle Elum and Enumclaw (Snoqualmie Pass and Crystal Mtn/Rainier). Although, I don't see these as a "small mountain town" as you know them in Colorado.

Your move would also need to be based on employment if needed - these towns are scarce on employment opportunities, depends what you are into.

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think about the quality of the ski area. IMO, there is none finer than mt baker ski area. Yes there are larger areas but the "feel" and the vibe is incomparable. If I had to ride in only one area for the rest of time, I would be driving up the mt baker hwy.

 

Lots of backcountry right out of the upper lot and lower lot. Enough trails to keep you busy for a long long time.

 

so with that, town of Glacier if you don't need to work or Bellingham if you need to earn some money but still find cheap rent.

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Thanks for all the suggestions!

 

I work online, so that really helps with the flexibility of choosing a town.

 

Colorado has been interesting, so far. We've got several trails that are 5 minutes from my door and several more just down the road. But we live in a casino town and that just makes for a bad environment. There are a few more towns that are closer to Summit Co., but little turnover with apartments/housing. Closer would mean moving to a resort town, but that takes away from the idea of cheap rent.

 

I've wondered about Glacier, Leavenworth and Cle Elum, based on a few things I've heard, but I'll also take a look at the map and see what the 90 corridor looks like.

 

I spent about a year in Portland and used to kayak at Bob's Hole. Absolutely LOVE that area of the country. WA seemed like an even bigger, more wide-open version of OR, but that's just from my limited experience. I remember everyone up there being pretty chill, for the most part.

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The locals will probably shoot me for mentioning it online but I'm pretty happy working online from Hamilton, MT. Only downsides are lack of really fast internet outside of city/town limits.

 

Closest ski area (Lost Trail Powder Mountain) is 45 minutes. Backcountry, boulders, big walls, mountain biking etc are much much closer and the farmers market is great.

 

Not a resort town but as much of a biotech hotspot as a town of 5k can be thanks to the lab which means there are some good restaurants and great breweries. Also rentals available (though mostly in the spring/summer).

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I would also consider the Methow Valley in Washington. It has one of the best trails systems in summer and winter and is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Also has good access to Washington Pass for rock climbing. The negatives (or could be positives, depending on how you see it) is that the valley is a bit spread out and you have to drive a lot, and there's no ski resort so skiing is all b/c sno-mo access - though its exceptionally good.

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I would also consider the Methow Valley in Washington. It has one of the best trails systems in summer and winter and is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Also has good access to Washington Pass for rock climbing. The negatives (or could be positives, depending on how you see it) is that the valley is a bit spread out and you have to drive a lot, and there's no ski resort so skiing is all b/c sno-mo access - though its exceptionally good.

 

Loup Loup ski area is just outside of town, Mission Ridge is a couple of hours south and I'm guessing it's not too far into Canada before you reach a resort there.

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I agree with Pete_H and sprocket, the Methow area is a pretty neat place for Mtn Biking, Trails and Winter events with the best XC ski trail system in the lower 48. Not much in a Down Hill ski area - but there is a small bush league ski park at Loup Loup Pass, about 30 minute drive from Winthrop - the main tourist town. Fifteen minutes from Winthrop is Mazama - the closest thing to a small Mtn Village, and very close to The North Cascades. Try www.mvsta.com for all the local trail systems, or Google for websites at Sun Mountain or Winthrop, WA. If the Mt.Baker ski area looks close on the map - it is NOT in the Winter as HWY 20 is closed.

:tup:

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I'm a huge fan of the Methow Valley. We go over there several times a year mainly to camp and go on road bike rides. Just this year we did our first foray into cross-country skiing and really enjoyed that. We also rented mountain bikes a couple of times and enjoyed that too. The above mentioned MVSA maintains winter and summer trails. The weather is what makes it, sunny and dry. The town of Winthrop is small and touristy but it has a great little brewery and a couple of other good places to eat. I haven't rock climbed for a while but my favorite alpine area was definitley the Washington Pass close to here. There is a crag in the valley that has had a fair amount of development.

 

We did a week long bike ride in Colorado last year which was my first real trip there. I can say that if you like that kind of weather anything west of the Cascade crest is going to be dreary and wet by comparison. We spent nights in Creede and Telluride and I don't think Washington has anything that compares to either. Leavenworth is nice and probably has the best access to all the outdoor activities with two decent ski resorts within an hour or so. There aren't any real big destination resorts in the state although Whistler and several of the big interior BC resorts are within a day's drive from most of the state.

 

Not sure how set you are on Washington but I would consider Bend Oregon or even Sand Point Idaho. It all depends on what is a priority. I really like Bend, weather is great, tons of paved roads for road riding, probably my favorite ski hill in Mt Bachelor(although it has a ton of moderate terrain so riders that like real steeps aren't as fond of it), tons of breweries, great outdoor community (almost any outdoor sport you can name), access to wilderness, rock climbing nearby, the list goes on. I've heard it is hard to find good employment and cost of living can be high. I'm not sure how it is recovering from the recession but it got hit pretty hard.

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Any thoughts on Yakima? I will be moving back to Washington in a few months and was deciding between Yakima and Wenatchee.

 

Yakima - proximity to Rainier, Tieton rock, White Pass, not too far to Frenchmans

 

Wenatchee - Close to Icicle Creek, same time to Frenchmans, quicker to Banks Lake, North Cascades, BC, etc.

 

Wenatchee seems like it wins for longer trips, but I'm thinking that afternoon activities for rock and skiing are about the same. Any thoughts?

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Yakima is good for certain things - ice climbing at Strobach and access to Rainier - but the pass to Rainier is closed in the winter, and the rock season is somewhat shorter than the Leavenworth area, and rock not nearly as high quality (IMO) as the Icicle and Tumwater. Its a "smaller" town feel than Wenatchee. Wenatchee is probably the winner between the two if you consider most of your time will be spent in Leavenworth.

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I lived (near) Wenatchee for 20+ years. I'd vote for it over Yakima.

 

Wenatchee has more moderated temps, more river access, more rock climbing (3-4 distinct areas within 1 hour), easier access to the mountains (HWY 2 and HWY 97 North), more central to other POI around the state, easier winter access to the west side (Hwy2 or Hwy97/I90), a more lively outdoor scene, a closer ski area, ... the list is long.

 

In fact, I'd claim Wenatchee wins out by a long short.

 

Where's that guy that went to Afganistan as a contractor? He was from Yakima, right?

 

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There's some cool stuff around Yakima, like Tieton, but haven't heard many good things about the liveability factor. There's a fair amount of poverty and a gang problem there and not much of an outdoor community that I've heard of.

 

Wenatchee, on the other hand, I think would be a decent place to live. Definitely a big bible thumper community there but also a great outdoor scene and some good amenities nearby like Mission Ridge and Sage Hills trails. Also, a nice downtown.

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If you work in Wenatchee - Cashmere, Peshastin, and Leavenworth are all within reasonable commuting distance.

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