Snow Camping On Mt. Hood

How to camp in White River West Sno-Park

With our first Land Wander trip, Jason and I needed to film winter adventure footage, and at this time of year we could not resist heading up to my favorite part of Oregon – Mount Hood. There are a few options for snow camping, and we decided to try a location central to epic cross country skiing at White River and Tea Cup.


In order to get there, we picked up our campervan in Oregon City that we rented from the lovely people at GoCamp – her name was Van’essa. She included two beds and kitchenette that took care of all our needs. There was no bathroom, but the Sno-Park has a toilet that worked well for the both of us. Did I mention she drove like a dream?

The Mercedes 2500 is rear wheeled drive, it handles the snow quite well. Only once did we have trouble with traction, and that was in the morning waking up when there was a layer of ice on the snow coating everything in sight. Alas, we rocked the rig back and forth once and we were on our way. Driving up was a blast and maintained great traction through the entire trip!

Government Camp

Our first stop was Government Camp! We decided to grab a pint at Charley’s Mountain View Pub before wandering north to the delicious Taco Shoppe. After enjoying a marvelous hot chocolate spiked with our favorite add-ons, we couldn’t help meeting friendly locals who shared a lot of cheer only found in a mountain village.

White River West Sno-Park

Camping was as easy as pulling up to the site and turning on the furnace. Jason and I enjoyed a fire and the starry night sky before turning in for the evening to make dinner. Someone else left a fire burning on the snow, even though all fires should be in a fire pit. We met a few different people who shared tips about how to make the most of our time on the mountain.

Waking Up to Stunning Views

The mornings were absolutely stunning, with gorgeous views of Mount Hood as the sun crept up over the horizon. From the east, the sun started to magnificently illuminate the snow capped Mt. Hood to the west. Lucky for us, we were able to grill up bacon and coffee while soaking in the magnificent views!

After breakfast it was time to grab the skis and head up the mountain! Finally, what we had been waiting for, some adventure! Jason and I enjoyed switching back and forth across the snow covered stream. We enjoyed following the trail of show shoers, hikers and cross country skiers up the mountain.

A lot of families were sledding down the hills near the parking lot, as it was was full by 9:30 am. Parking near the trailhead allowed us to prepare all of our gear before people arrived – another great reason to camp on the mountain!

leave no trace hiking sign

Essential Guide to Leave No Trace Hiking

In order to help protect the environment, we’ve put together this leave no trace hiking guide. By following these tips, you can make sure that your hike doesn’t negatively impact the landscape and wildlife. Hiking is a great way to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential impact that hiking can have on the environment.

What is Leave No Trace Hiking and Why Should You Do It?

Leave no trace hiking means making sure that your impact on nature remains minimal and invisible. When you go out into nature, it’s important to think about the environment and how your actions may affect it. One way of doing this is leaving no trace – making as small an impact as possible.

The first step is to educate yourself on the Leave No Trace principles. These principal will help you not only have a safe and fun hiking adventure they will help you avoid harming the natural spaces that you visit. Once you understand the principles, it’s important to put them into practice.

If you’re a nature lover, then you know the importance of leaving no trace when you’re hiking. You may have heard the phrase, “pack it in, pack it out.” This phrase covers elements of several Leave No Trace principles, and therefore it’s a very important one to follow.

The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics created the following seven principles to help guide you in protecting the environment while you’re out enjoying the outdoors:

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Resources for Learning More About Leave No Trace Hiking

If you’re interested in learning more about Leave No Trace hiking, there are a number of resources available. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a great place to start. They offer awareness workshops, educational resources, and plenty of information on how to minimize your impact when hiking. You can also check out their website, which has a wealth of articles and tips.

Of course, one of the best ways to learn about Leave No Trace hiking is simply to get out there and do it! There’s no substitute for first-hand experience, so get out there and explore with the knowledge that you’re doing your part to protect our wilderness areas. You can get started with our Outdoor Adventure Checklist and begin planning a day adventure now.

custom family vacation

The Ultimate Outdoor Adventure Checklist

Our outdoor adventure checklist can help you begin planning the perfect family vacation. If you want to get your family outside and enjoy the great outdoors, but you’re not sure where to start we have just the resource for you. When you head out into the wild, there are many things to keep in mind. You can make sure that your time in nature stays safe and enjoyable by following our tips for a successful adventure. We know it can be overwhelming to figure out all the details, but we want to make getting outdoors easy.

In this blog post, we’ll give you all the tips you need to plan the perfect outdoor adventure. So pack your bags and get ready for some fun!

How to Plan the Perfect Outdoor Adventure

  1. Choose a destination – Consider your interests and the activities you want to do in order to select the perfect destination.
  2. Plan your route – Make sure to take into account the distance, elevation changes, and difficulty level for each member of your group.
  3. Pack accordingly – Use our printable Outdoor Adventure Checklist to be sure to bring the necessary gear and supplies for your trip.
  4. Enjoy yourself! – Take in the sights and sounds of nature, and have fun with your friends or family and make memories!

Finding the Perfect Destination to Explore

Outdoor adventure travel is a great way to explore the world and learn about nature, all while getting in some exercise and fresh air. But before you start packing your bags, it’s important to think about what kind of outdoor adventure you want to have. Consider your interests and the activities you want to do when choosing your destination.

We have created trips based on popular activities including: mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting, skiing, horseback riding, or walking on the beach. This is the best way to find a destination for your group. Have a look at our current trips here. We make it easy for groups to find a destination where they can enjoy their favorite activities. If you don’t see just the right trip or want to build your own trip around another destination, just let us know.

Planning Your Outdoor Adventure

Now that you have some ideas of where to go, it’s time to start planning your outdoor adventure. We can help with that! Our team is experienced in creating custom trips for groups of all sizes and interests. So whether you’re looking for a challenging backpacking trip or an easy family-friendly hike, we can make it happen. Get started by filling out our online form and one of our Adventure Consultants will be in touch soon.

When planning your hiking trail, make sure to check for updates and alerts about conditions on the different trails. You can also message us if you need any help!
Also check what other groups have done recently by consulting online resources like AllTrails, which has user reviews from people who’ve already completed hikes similar as yours- this can help decide which trails will best match up with individual preferences while still being challenging enough for everyone’s ability level.

Make sure you have all the permits necessary for your trip. Some activities, such as fishing in designated areas or hunting wildlife with special tags from a licensed seller are only available through purchasing them beforehand – don’t count on finding these locally!

Packing for Your Trip (Free Outdoor Adventure Checklist)

Outdoor adventures can be a lot of fun, but they can also be pretty daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing.

You’ll need the right supplies for your outdoor adventure. Whether you’re hiking, camping, or paddle-boarding, it’s important to bring the necessary gear and supplies with you so that you can enjoy your activity to the fullest.

Here’s a checklist of everything you’ll need to make the most of your trip. Make sure to download our free printable outdoor adventure checklist. This list will help you remember everything you need for a great time outdoors. And as always, if you have any questions about what to bring or how to do something on the list, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Enjoy the Outdoors and Leave No Trace

The outdoors is a beautiful place to explore and we must preserve it for future generations. Follow these simple guidelines so that you can enjoy this special area without impacting the natural world around us.

  • Walk on designated trails
  • Pack out what you pack in
  • Share the path with others
  • Respect the wildlife and their habitat

We hope that this outdoor adventure checklist will help you and your family get excited about your next vacation. The outdoors can be a great place for families to reconnect and have some fun together. Make sure to download our free printable packing list so you don’t forget anything while you are out enjoying nature. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring!

man using laptop at table in a campervan

8 Big Advantages of Traveling in a Campervan

Traveling in a campervan has many benefits and can be more affordable than staying at hotels and more comfortable than tent camping. Van life has its perks!

In addition to being easy on your wallet; camping on wheels provides some major advantages over traditional forms of accommodation like hotels, motels, or resorts. You may even prefer it to tent camping. Although, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy sleeping under the stars. You’ll find that staying at your favorite campground is even better in a campervan. Read on to discover all the benefits of traveling and vacationing in a campervan.

Read More “8 Big Advantages of Traveling in a Campervan”
Kid cross country skiing

How to Start Cross Country Skiing

My favorite winter hobby is cross country skiing. With COVID limiting indoor options and lift tickets increasing in price, cross country skiing is a safe alternative to get yourself outdoors and get your heart rate up. It’s a full-body workout and can burn about 475 calories per hour when working at a moderate pace. A snow-covered mountain is breathtaking. Cross country skiing allows you to move your body and relieve stress while immersing yourself in the outdoors. I have some tips and tricks for anyone who hasn’t cross country skied before but is interested in a new adventure.

Skiing after fresh snow fall
Skiing after fresh snow fall.

Nature is a powerful force, so picking the right day is essential while you’re a beginner. If the wind is blowing hard and it’s snowing, or worse, raining on the mountain, you may be better off picking a different day. On the contrary, if you are willing to tough it out during the rain, you may be rewarded with the mountain to yourself. In general, skiing on a sunny day brings out the beauty of the mountain, and it helps to learn without being bombarded with precipitation on your face as you’re learning the basics.

Ski nature pic

Bringing the right equipment is critical for your success. I wear a waterproof coat that I can roll up and put in my backpack if I get too hot. I also wear my primary gloves and a stocking cap. I typically wear snow bibs, but any waterproof pants would work. I usually wear a backpack to carry my supplies. However, keep in mind that packing light is best while you’re a beginner to maintain your balance. Here are some of the standard gear I take with me, but I’m careful where the contents are located on my back in case of a fall or other rare issue. I start with water, which is essential since you’ll be working out. Depending on my distance, I usually bring a Camelback or a water bottle. I personally can’t go more than an hour without eating, so I load my pack with tasty snacks to refuel myself. If you’re bringing kids, remember to take lots of breaks and pack fun snacks. A container of ski wax helps your skis glide better. You don’t need wax when it’s icy, but it’s good to carry some as conditions can change while you’re out. I bring extra gloves and a spare hat in case what I’m wearing gets too wet for whatever reason. When it’s really cold and snowing, I like to bring ski goggles and something to keep my face warm.

Kid snack 1
Whether your big or small, make sure you plenty of food and water.

If you don’t own skis, renting is a good option while you’re testing how often you’ll go. Many shops allow you to rent by the day or even the whole season. Season rentals are an excellent option for kids, so you don’t have to invest the $500-$1,000 only to have them grow out of the gear the following year. It takes many years before you break even on the costs, so renting is an affordable option for most skiers who aren’t sure about their commitment level. Land Wander handles the reservations and payment processing, making it fast and easy to get outdoors. Many of the best shops don’t allow you to book online, so support makes it easy for busy professionals to secure reservations. A Land Wander representative can help make the process easy and convenient if you have any questions.

There are many places to cross country ski. It’s essential to match your skis to the terrain to make your adventure more enjoyable. A place that I like to start people at is Teacup on Oregon’s Mount Hood. It has 20+ kilometers of gorgeous groomed trails with various terrain for beginners and experts. Some tracks offer breathtaking views of the top of Mount Hood. Whether you’re looking at Teacup or want help deciding on other options to try, Land Wander provides recommendations and a welcome kit that includes maps and permits, and other things to make the process easy.

Quinn Skiiing
People of all ages can enjoy cross country skiing.

When starting any new sport, I find it’s more enjoyable to have the proper mindset. Skiing takes time to get the motions down and learn what works best for you. When I teach others, I remind them beforehand that they’ll likely fall a lot their first time. It’s just part of the learning process. It’s essential to take things in steps and to make a game out of every stage. When I taught my six-year-old daughter, we took things one step at a time, and I gave her lots of encouragement. You must find a way to make it fun, otherwise, it’s not worth doing.

Land Wander has optional trainers that we can schedule on your behalf to help get you started. Here is a brief introduction to the basic concepts. We recommend going with a trainer for your first time or an experienced friend to help make your time more enjoyable. When starting, it’s crucial to find a flat place to practice. First, begin without your poles and kick your feet forward one at a time and let yourself push and glide along. The motions might not feel natural at first, but that’s okay. Once you feel comfortable on your feet, it’s time to add your poles. Place your hands through the bottom of the strap and let your pole hang down. You then lower your hand, grabbing the handle. Your hand should be snug around the middle of the handle. If your hand is too high or low, you’ll want to adjust the strap length to improve your comfort. Using your poles, you can start with a double pole motion, keeping your legs straight. Engaging your core, you can use your poles to push you forward. Once comfortable with your poles, you can move to diagonal striding. That’s where you put one arm forward and the opposite leg forward. You then kick the back leg forward and bring the opposite arm forward to push yourself along.

Ski pole hanging
Make sure your pole hangs down from your wrist before you grab onto the handle to ensure a proper grip.

Going up hills is more challenging, especially when conditions are icy. There are more advanced techniques, but here is a fundamental way to keep yourself from slipping down. Always keep one pole in the ground. I keep my arms at 90-degree angles and take smaller diagonal stride motions while keeping my poles at or behind my feet. By keeping your poles further back, you’ll generate more traction. Once you’re at the top of the hill, you have the fun of sliding down! Keeping your center of gravity lower, think about your balance with your poles behind you. If you get going too fast, you can come out of the track and create a wedge by pushing the insides of your skis down and out. The front of your skis should be almost touching to make the wedge or V shape tip. If you’re still going too fast, you can lower your center of gravity even further by sitting down. If a hill is too steep for your skill level, you can always step out of the track and take your skis off. If you do so, make sure you walk along the side not to damage the ski tracks for others.

Cross country skiing is an outstanding winter sport that allows you to move your body while surrounding yourself with breathtaking scenery. It took my 6-year-old about three to four times to get the hang of it. There were many tears the first few times, but now she goes up and down hills laughing and having the time of her life. Remember to be safe and take it slow at first. Be patient with yourself and others while learning. You may discover your new winter hobby.

mount hood peak
Mountains provide fun and beauty that is rare for many of us.
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3 Nights on the Central Coast

3ish hours south of San Francisco lies the peaceful city of Paso Robles. It’s the last major stop on the way to San Luis Obispo heading south and the perfect destination to get lost for a long weekend. Very similar to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, we were eager to explore!


We applied the usual calculus to set up our trip parameters: xxx miles per day, yyy amp hours in the house batteries, zzz gallons remaining in the holding tanks before we need to find a dump station. Get the kids back in time for school and maintain the proper balance of old and new experiences, masked at 6′.

Stanger Vineyards

Lots of options to overnight in the area but limited avails last minute. It’s becoming our biggest limitation as glampers: scarcity of qualified places to park it. We decided make a call to our friends at Stanger Vineyards and we lucked out. Roger & Laurie Janakus are great people to know in the Paso wine scene. Very easygoing and were always accommodating. Their hospitality was only exceeded by their delicious wines, both of which we enjoyed immensely.

stanger 1

Staying on the property is a dream. It’s not downtown Paso but that’s not what we were looking for either. Acres of rolling hills to explore, kids can run off and be kids and easy access to really good wines. Each time we’ve been, the crowds have been minimal and there’s not a lot we haven’t been allowed to do. The view from atop the main hill captures breathtaking views throughout the day but sunrises are the best. It’s easy livin’ and a great place to call home for a few nights.

Splash Cafe

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, it’s always a good move to eat with the locals, especially when you’re in town for a few days. Splash Cafe is the kind of place that attracts both locals and those just passing through. It’s their second storefront in the area, just a quick trip south from Stanger, in the heart of San Luis Obispo.


They serve a great mix of top notch fare, but are most famous for their clam chowder. Eating with the locals wasn’t in the cards, because… COVID, but we did do some risk taking and took our bread bowls of chowder to eat in the car. This chowder is so good, we even served it at our wedding! Truth. Get yours fully loaded (topped with seafood, clams, bacon, green onion & cheese). You wont go hungry.

Central Coast Trail Rides

One of the challenges in wine country is trying to find things for the family to do that isn’t related to wine. We found the perfect detox at Central Coast Trail Rides. It’s wine-adjacent, starting our journey from the back lot of Cass Vineyards and walking the horses through the wintering vines for the first part of our adventure but cross the road and we were in a beautiful dry river bed where the horses felt at home.


Brian Hallett and his wrangler Olivia were the best: perfect blend hospitality, kid curator/question answerer and chaperone for the young and old. They are the NICEST people and were naturals at explaining everything unique about this very new experience for the whole family. So many questions. So much patience with the ability to control several 600lb. animals at once (a skill I really appreciated). We all felt safe and watched over by CCT and are already planning our next horse adventure!

43 Ranch Olive Oil

43 ranch logo pms 871 pmsblack2 outline

Day 3: we pulled up stakes at Stanger and drove north back home via an overnight stop at 43 Ranch. Greg and Cindy Traynor are doing it right. After years in big business, Greg became the 5th generation of farmers in his family business, growing olives and milling some of the best oils in the US. 43 Ranch Olive Oil applies a lot of sophistication to an ingredient I never thought much about beyond the initials EVOO. Did someone say olive oil tasting? LET’S GO! we tasted them all but found our happy place with the co-milled Meyer Lemon Olive Oil – 2021 harvest. Greg was amazing!

The milling season had just wrapped up the week prior, and the warehouse was a hot mess but he still took the time to walk us through a day in the life of an olive, from tree to bottle, in a 30-minute farm tour. The automation. The machines. The gadgetry. When paired with an expert like Greg, it makes for a tasty finishing oil. I’ll remember two things from this adventure: doing olive oil shots with my 9-year-olds & scoring an overnight spot, up the hill away from hwy 101 with views of rolling green hills in every direction. When passing through or overnighting, stop in and have a few shots. You’ll leave with a new appreciation for finishing oils and you’ll learn something too.