We knew it was going to be a busy camping weekend. Earlier in the week, I got onto the Reserve America website to see what was available for the weekend. We only had time for a Friday and Saturday night trip, and I was worried that it was going to be hard to find a place, given it was a weekend. I was right, it was downright impossible. In fact, the closest campground I was able to find where I could make a reservation was in Washington State near Mt. St. Helens – a pretty long haul from Portland. We decided to head up to Mt. Hood so we could turn around and head home if we were unsuccessful at finding a site.
We knew our chances of finding a spot located off highway 26 would be nearly impossible….and it was. But, lucky for us, most people don’t know about McNeil campground right off of LoLo Pass Road. We love it there. It’s private and quiet and different than most places on the west side of the mountain.When we got there on Friday, only a handful of sites were taken. But, by Saturday, only a few remained empty. It is definitely high camping season around here!
Nevertheless, we had a great time using McNeil as our home base. We started out the morning with a hearty breakfast and then headed over to the Zig Zag Ranger Station to look at some hikes. We found one that we thought would be a pretty place for sunset called the Bald Mountain Hike that was known for it’s dramatic views of the glacier. We decided to spend the rest of the day just driving around, scouting out campgrounds and admiring the local attractions. First stop was the historic Timberline Lodge…always a favorite place to explore!
After exploring Timberline, we headed farther up the Mountain looking for a nice spot to eat lunch. We ended up driving down the road that led to Little Crater Lake where we stayed last year. This is a small campground, but quite beautiful…and a great place to enjoy a sandwich!
We spent some time exploring the Clackamas Lake Area…a neat old ranger station and a quiet meadow.
We arrived back to our campground late in the afternoon looking forward to an early dinner and an evening hike. I was a little nervous about the hike…I wanted to see the sweet light on the mountain, but I wasn’t looking forward to hiking back down the trail in the dark. We weren’t sure what to expect from this hike since it is a lesser known area – but it ended up being well worth it. What an amazing view we had of the rising moon and setting sun.
Then back to camp:
What a day…….
Awesome photos of Mt Hood which we hope to visit in September. Oregon seems to be blessed with great state parks and campgrounds. I have always wanted to spend time there but I have never been there. It is the last of the 50 states for me to visit. Two years ago Debbie and I drove from South Carolina to the middle of Wyoming following the Oregon trail. Our final destination was Yellowstone NP and so we left the Trail midway through Wyoming. But what a treat it was to see all of the historic sites and to envision the hardships the settlers had to endure. Anytime I think that being in our 200 sq ft trailer is a hardship (compared to living in a 3000 sq ft home at least) I try to recall all those people who walked beside their conestoga and slept on the ground while trying to reach Oregon. It is a sobering image.
Frank, you and Debbie have saved a great state for last!! It really doesn’t get much better than Oregon in September!! If you enjoyed following the Oregon Trail, you’ll find a lot to interest you here, too! Lots of local museums…one in Baker City and one right in the Gorge that are worth while if you have the time!
I teach fourth grade and a large part of our social studies curriculum is westward expansion and the Oregon Trail. It’s a lot of fun to share the history with my students & they can experience so much of it close to home. I too have always been amazed by what those early settlers were able to do and the hardships they had to endure to make it here. Besides the small amount of space they had, I can’t imagine the work they had to do each night to settle in…a sobering image to be sure!