Distance from Portland: 140 miles, 2.5-hour drive
Wintertime Mount Rainier is basically summertime Mount Rainier topped with icing, also known as snow, and with a different dress code. With snowshoes bound on, you can trek the trails to Reflection and Louise Lakes in no time, and with just a smidge of an avalanche risk -- and what’s a good hike without a little bit of danger? The cold, crisp air, powder-fresh snow, and clear blue skies will make the layering up worthwhile, and besides, you only really need that one layer we call a “whiskey-filled flask” to keep you warm anyways.
Distance from Portland: 100 miles, two-hour drive
Five Mile Butte is no joke. To actually camp out at this fire lookout cabin, you have to work your ass off for it. This is no drive-to-your-camp site situation. Here, you have to ski, snowmobile, or snowshoe three miles to access this 40ft-tall fire-lookout cabin. Your mama always said that nothing in life is free, and she meant it. You also have to ski/snowshoe/snowmobile your own water, food, and booze in. If there was anything ever worth slaving away for, though, this serene cabin experience would be it. So, mush!
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Michelle Udem is a Portland-based writer who absolutely did not listen to "Life is a Highway" as she wrote this piece. At all. Follow her @mudem.