Exploring Mt. Hood All Year Round – A great weekend getaway!
The Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon is one of the most breath taking areas in the US. You can explore the Mt. Hood region within less than 100 miles of actual road trip distance from the Portland Area, which makes it a great destination for a weekend getaway. The scenery is world-class, and each season offers something different, from snow covered mountain tops, to beautiful crystal blue lakes. There are dozens of attractions and opportunities to explore the area. You could return several times a year and plan a totally different trip. This is an ideal vacation spot for families due to the flexibility and the short driving distance between each point.
A Spring Break trip on Mt. Hood is a great time to experience two seasons at once, both the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring. The weather might be a little hard to predict, but it’s perfect for enjoying winter activities without the crowds and a great time to take in all that nature has to offer on Mt. Hood. You’ll see plenty of spring blooms and wildlife as things begin to unthaw. Spring is one of the least popular times to visit the region, most likely due to school schedules and the difficulty in predicting sunny weather, so you’ll be able to get out and enjoy it all without all the people, and there are few places on earth that have such an incredible spring.
Your basic itinerary will be the same, no matter what season you plan to travel. Grab a good map of the region before heading out, many of the best routes are not major highways. Mt Hood Adventure is a good place to stop in Government Camp for maps, GPS’s, and rentals, including information on the best destination spots on Mt. Hood.
Mt. Hood is home to any outdoor activity you can imagine (including laying in a hammock and reading a book) and each season has plenty of offerings to keep any family busy. It’s a short jaunt from your vacation rental, if your staying at Collins Lake Resort in Government Camp, to any destination on Mt. Hood. In winter, expect snowy and/or icy driving conditions, and use TripCheck to get up to the minute road reports.
If you’re planning to spend a few days on Mt. Hood book a few activities through Mt. Hood Adventure. Greg Moreno, locally known as “Chopper”, has been the operator and lead guide for the company since it first began in 2005. He is your local expert on all things ‘Mt. Hood’. Chopper has years of experience in the Mt. Hood Region and can help your family enjoy the outdoors safely. He’s a fantastic resource for your adventures on Mt. Hood and he can recommend which activities are best suited for your experience, level of fitness and interests. Whether you’re interested in snowmobiling, geo-caching, hiking, rock climbing, bird watching, white water rafting or anything else, Chopper can guide you to the best places to ensure you’ll have a great time throughout your stay. Their web site has a lot of recommendations based on which season it is when you visit. 101 things to do in summer is a great guide that chopper came up with to give visitors a good place to start during their visit.
Since the mountain has so much to offer, try to spend at least two days playing outdoors. If the weather permits, Timberline Lodge is just a short distance from Governement camp & well worth the time. The view from the lodge is spectacular and the Cascade Dining Room has been noted as one of the best mountaintop restaurants in North America, and is known for their use of fresh Northwestern ingredients. The fireside brunch is family friendly and kids eat free if you dine early in the evening. Be sure to take the self-guided tour of the lodge.
Other suggestions for enjoying the mountain and nearby area include:
Barlow Trail Roadhouse (69580 E. Hwy 26, 503-622-1662) — open at 7 am, this is a good spot for breakfast out if you’re not in the mood to cook.
High Mountain Cafe - Get your morning off to a great start. Swing by the High Mountain Cafe on your way to the mountain for a quick and healthy breakfast or lunch. They have amazing Breakfast Burritos & specialize in gourmet coffee and espresso, fresh-baked pastries, deli sandwiches, free WiFi, and friendly service. The café is located on the second floor of the Ratskeller Building. Open 8am-4pm.
The Ratskeller Pizzeria - With its warm and friendly atmosphere, the Ratskeller in Government Camp, remains a favorite destination for ski families and others looking for tasty food. Renowned for its specialty pizzas, the menu has been expanded to include traditional American pub food and delicious salads, plus a great selection of micro beers, wines and specialty drinks. Stop by for $2 taco Tuesdays!
Ice Axe Grill — Mt. Hood Brewing – Their commitment to freshness and small batch brewing means that none of the brews from Mt. Hood Brewing leave the state of Oregon, and they don’t bottle beer. Enjoy it right at the brewery, in a family-friendly pub-style environment. In Government Camp.
Charlie’s Mountain View — Known for their prime rib, the nightlife is also hopping at Charlie’s. Great if you can get grandparents to watch the kids for a few hours. They are also open for breakfast at 9 am. In Government Camp.
Rendezvous Grill & Tap Room– The Rendezvous has a little fancier flair than some of the other options. Still good for older kids or dining early. Their desserts are amazing, so a great option is to cook in your cabin and go for dessert and coffee. In Welches.
Still Creek Inn & Lounge — Local favorite for more of a culinary experience highlighting local ingredients and fresh seafood. Still very family friendly. In Rhododendron.
Calamity Janes (42015 Hwy 26, 503-668-7817) — Just west of Welches on 26, look for the giant cowgirl sign. Burgers with lots of options and kid menu favorites.
Recreation options are endless. Check out the Mt. Hood Territory web site & Mt Hood Adventure’s Website for some of the best ideas on Mt. Hood!
The Wildwood Recreation Site is a 580-acre facility that should be on your must-see list. Kids can see a cool “fish-eye” view of a stream via the viewing window. There are trails and picnic areas and lots more. Take a day and just relax and bring a picnic lunch and play outside.
Mt. Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl - Over 20+ attractions for the whole family! The most popular attraction is the 1/2 mile dual Alpine Slide. It begins with a leisurely trip up the mountain on the Scenic Sky chair, which provides a magnificent view of the Cascades, in particularly nearby Mt. Hood. For the extremist, visit the East side area where you’ll find some of the more popular attractions such as the Zip Line, Bungee Tower, Rapid Riser Reverse Bungee, Indy Karts, Batting Cages and more. The kid’s will also enjoy some of their favorite attractions at the East base area with the Kiddy Karts, Kiddy Canoes, Kid’s Super Play Zone, Quad Bungee Trampoline and more.
Summit Tubing Hill — Spring visits to the mountain should provide adequate snow for tubing, a great experience for families of all ages. There’s also skiing and just playing in the snow. A great way to spend a day having fun.
Mt. Hood Cultural Museum — Probably more fun for older kids or adults, there is a large collection of local art and the docents were very knowledgeable about activities in the area. Worth a stop. If you have an artist in the family, you should also check out the Arts Cabins Project. It requires some planning ahead, but the classes and workshops are varied and really educational. Not all are open to children, so call and talk to someone before booking.
No matter what you choose to do, or which time of the year you choose to do it, there is allot of fun to be had on Mt. Hood! We hope you get out and enjoy the best mother nature has to offer and for lodging in the area be sure to check out our specials at www.collinslakeresort.com , that often include discounts on area attractions, rentals, and restaurants.