Mountain

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.

Van’essa

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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.