Government Camp is a village on the southern slopes of Mt. Hood. It is the home of Skibowl and the gateway to Timberline Ski Resort and Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort.
The village offers dining, lodging, and entertainment.
People from out of state often ask why it is called Government Camp. The name comes from its history. The site is on the old Barlow Trail Road which was used by the pioneers coming west on the Oregon Trail in lieu of floating down the treacherous Columbia River. In 1849 the government sent a huge U. S. Army wagon train west to establish forts along the Oregon Trail. When they reached The Dalles part of the train went west on the Columbia River. The rest of the train took the overland route. They were forced to abandon their wagons at the site where the village is today. The later pioneers passed by the abandoned wagons and called it the government camp. The name stuck.
The village has changed a lot since we had our cabin there. However, in some ways it hasn't changed at all. Charlie's Mountain View (called Charlie's), the Ratskeller (called The Rat), The Huckleberry Inn, Thunderhead Lodge, Summit, and Skibowl are still there.
The snow can get extremely deep in the winter. The main road running through the village is always plowed. It pays to read the parking signs. You can't just park your car and leave it there for 24 hours. You wouldn't be doing this unless you were staying in lodging or walking into a cabin. What you have to do if you are staying for any period of time is move your car to the other side of the road periodically so the parking area can be plowed.
You can get around the parking problem when there is snow on the ground by staying at one of the lodging facilities mentioned below. Or you can just leave your car in Portland and and use Sea to Summit transportation services to get to Government Camp.
Mt. Hood Territory
The Summit is a great place to take the whole family for inner tubing in the snow. You can rent the tubes or take your own.
Government Camp is a good place to stay if you are skiing on Mt. Hood and in the summer if you want to go hiking in the area. You are close to the most popular lakes in Mt. Hood National Forest where you can go fishing, boating, and swimming. You can easily make day trips to Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge or to Kahneeta at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation during the spring, summer, and fall.
After all of the snow is gone in late spring, there is still plenty to do in Government Camp thanks to the Mt. Hood Adventure Park. Attractions include:
Collins Lake Resort is a convenient place to stay if you are skiing at Mount Hood Ski Bowl because it is just across the street. At Collins Lake you can rent two- or three-bedroom condos and have the full use of the resort's facilities. Also you can get great discounts on lift tickets at Timberline, Mt. Hood Meadows, and Ski Bowl. If you stay two nights midweek you can ski free at Ski Bowl.
The Porch to Powder shuttle will take you directly from your unit to the base of Ski Bowl or to downtown Government Camp.
There are 28 miles of trails throughout the resort. These are used in the winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. In the spring, summer, and fall they are good for walking and biking.
The Mt. Hood Inn is a great place to stay if you only want a room. (Adjoining rooms are available.) You get a free Continental breakfast and free parking. All of Government Camp's restaurants are nearby. The rooms have a coffee maker, microwave, and refrigerator.
This is the place to go for a great steak dinner and a microbrew. Steaks are cooked over an open-flame grill. On Saturday nights throughout the ski season Charlie's has live music with popular bands from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am. The bar is well stocked with domestic beer, wine, and spirits.
The Huckleberry Inn is two restaurants in one. The cafe is open 24 hours a day all year long. A good place to get hot drinks, sandwiches, soup, and hamburgers. The dinner menu has roast beef, chicken, and liver and onions. The steak house is open on weekends during ski season. Don't forget to have a piece of their famous Huckleberry Pie.
Along with steaks, entrees include chicken, fish and chips, BBQ ribs, and salmon. The menu also includes sandwiches, salads, and pizza. This is the home of the Mt. Hood Brewing Company. They offer a wide selection of Northwest microbrews. They are open 11:30 am to 10:00 pm on Friday and Saturday. Sunday through Thursday they are open form 11:30 am to 9:00 pm.
This is a fine dining experience. Six-course dinners are served and it is by reservation only. In fact, I heard that you need to make your reservations two months in advance. They have five rooms to rent and breakfast is included. For more information phone 800-624-7384.
The Rat has been a gathering place for the after-ski crowd for over 40 years. It has recently had a face lift and the menu has expanded so it is so much more than the pizza joint it used to be. Of course, you can still get that delicious pizza but if you would rather not, you can order Calezones, pasta, soup, salad, burgers, or sub sandwiches.
They serve a full range of draft, bottled, and canned beers as well as wines from the northwest and beyond. You can watch your favorite sports teams on their 12-foot screen. There is a bar side and a family side so kids are very welcome and they do have a children's menu.
The Rat is open:
Monday-Thursday from 2 pm to 10 pm.
Friday from 11 am to 2 pm
Saturday from 11 am to 2 am
Sunday from 10 am to 12 midnight
See other places to visit on Mt. Hood.