The Oregon Sno-Park free car camping ends on October 31st, so we decided to get one last freebie in during October. We picked Bennett Pass Sno-Park, which is a few miles east of Government Camp. It's just past the White River Sno-Parks, which seemed busier and was certainly missing this view:
This spot has maybe a dozen parking spaces and a simple vault toilet. Just off the pavement is a rough road that has a few turnouts where a little Transit Connect can rest for the night.
One of the reasons we wanted to get up to the mountain was that the weather forecast was clear skies all weekend, and we wanted a chance to see the stars outside the city.
We hadn't reckoned on the moon, however. About 9pm, we ventured out of the van to stargaze. Debbie said, "What is that light?" Answer: The brightest full moon ever. I could have read by the light that beamed down on us.
The lot had been pretty full when we arrived, but we discovered it was mostly dirt bikers and hikers. The morning showed that maybe half a dozen other campers had found their own secluded spots to camp for the night. I think we got the best one.
The next morning, we had to take the obligatory #vanlife photo of our view.
After breakfast, we headed back to Trillium Lake for hiking.
There is a Sno-Park here, too! But there are no off-roading options for camping. If you wanted to spend the night here, this is about the best you're going to get.
We headed down the Red Meadows Loop trail (this picture of Jet was taken at the trailhead). And it was smooth going for about a mile and a half, but as we descended toward the lake, the ground became damp.
And then mushy, and then muddy, and then, downright boggy. So we turned back before we made it to the lake from that direction.
Note for future camping trips: bring an extra pair of shoes.
By using the main road down to the state park area for Trillium Lake, we found part of the Oregon Trail Barlow Road!
It followed the White River toward Government Camp, and passed just north of Trillium Lake before heading toward the relative flatness of Sandy, Oregon.
We also discovered US Forest dispersed camping just off the road about a mile from the lake itself. The dispersed camping area is the trailhead for an extensive biking/hiking trail that leads down to the pristine beauty that is Trillium Lake.