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An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions

05.10.18

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An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions

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  • Wonderland Expedition's rig outside of Smith Rock State Park.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Smith Rock view to Misery Trail.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Monkey Face and Smith Rock State Park.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Climbers ascend Monkey Face with Mount Jefferson on the horizon.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Monkey Face at Smith Rock.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Roasting marshmallows by the campfire.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Cozy Inside of the Popup. - An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Gray rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa).- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • View of Lava Butte with large "snowballs" in the foreground.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • View of Lava Butte Lookout Tower looking west with Mount Bachelor (9,068 ft) at left.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Exploring Lava Butte in a Wonderland Expeditions truck and camper.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Looking south from Lava Butte and caldera.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Headlamps, flashlights, or rented lanterns are a must in Lava River Cave.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Road tripping through Central Oregon in a Wonderland Expeditions truck and camper.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Road tripping through Central Oregon in a Wonderland Expeditions truck and camper.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • View east of Fort Rock from Country Road 5-11A.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Fort Rock's tuff eastern wall.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Looking east from Fort Rock's western rim.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • The main entrance to the Crack in the Ground.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Crack in the Ground is a very unique place to explore.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Crack in the Ground.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • High clearance and four-wheel drive allow drivers to access less-frequented areas.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Mount Hood from Cloud Cap Inn.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Snow-covered Mount Hood from Zigzag Mountain. - An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Mount Hood.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Mount Hood National Forest.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Oregon's lush Forests. - An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Panoramic Views of Hood River.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
  • Home is where you bring it with Wonderland Expeditions.- An Oregon Road Trip With Wonderland Expeditions
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Team

As mountain snow begins to slowly melt and the days grow longer and longer, summer's long anticipated arrival is finally in sight. Last weekend we took advantage of the improving weather, packed up a rig from our friends at Wonderland Expeditions, and headed out on our first road trip of the season.

Oregon is blessed with a truly awe-inspiring allotment of public lands, be they BLM, national forest, wildlife management areas, or state forests. Thanks to these public lands and the flexibility of a pop-up camper on a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, we were able to plan our trip with dispersed camping in mind. Dispersed camping is free, and it provides a great perspective on the road less traveled, from simple pull-offs to secluded backcountry nooks. Most locations are centered around rough, bumpy dirt roads that curve through our beautiful public lands. The best part: Rather than hiking endless miles up steep rocky passes, you can just pick a dirt road, park your car, and set up camp. This effort-to-scenery ratio is nearly impossible to beat!

Day 1: Portland to Smith Rock

Our first stop was Smith Rock State Park, a majestic geological phenomenon that tells a 30-million-year-old story of time, wind, and water. After a leg-burning ascent up Misery Ridge we decided to look for camp. Smith Rock is surrounded by endless amounts of BLM land, so after pulling down a few different roads, some of which were blocked by cattle, we were finally able to find the perfect backcountry spot. In some places, high-clearance or four-wheel drive is necessary, and it is definitely a plus that all Wonderland Expedition vehicles are equipped with four-wheel drive.  

Day 2: Smith Rock to Fort Rock

The next morning we woke up and headed south to explore another of Oregon's iconic geological formations, Fort Rock, but before we made it there we had a quick stop at the Lava Lands. Lava Lands formed about 7,000 years ago after Lava Butte's volcanic explosion. Interestingly enough, NASA used this area to test equipment and train astronauts before landing on the moon! After exploring we headed to the Lava River Cave, Oregon’s longest intact lava tube, which stretches just over a mile in length. We then made the push to Fort Rock, a 100,000-year-old isolated volcanic tuff ring that rises around 300 feet. After some exploring, we were ready to set up camp. Since we were unfamiliar with this area we were able to use Google Maps to help search the area. Although it took several attempts, we finally were able to set up camp deep in the Deschutes National Forest. 

Day 3: Fort Rock to Portland

On our last day we woke up early to explore the infamous Crack in the Ground. This volcanic fissure is a result of cooling lava, and it runs about 2 miles long! It reminded us of Utah's iconic slot canyons. We then packed up, heading back to Portland with a quick stop in Hood River. As we passing through Mount Hood National Forest we were able to see a clear view of the majestic Mount Hood. Our 3-day trip was the perfect escape from reality, and it really opened our eyes to all of the hidden gems across Central Oregon!

What you need to know about dispersed camping

It’s important to note anyone can take advantage of dispersed camping, however, it's important that we all step up to protect these public lands. Ironically, because we all own public lands, ownership and responsibility become less concrete, a concept known as the tragedy of the commons. We must ensure that we treat these lands responsibly. Always camp at least 100 feet away from any water source, 150 feet from any road, outside of a 1-mile radius from any designated campground, do not overstay your 16-day welcome, and keep your group to 74 or less (more than that may require a special use permit). Learn more about the basics behind dispersed camping here.  

So what are you waiting for?

Get out there and discover the solitude and remoteness that awaits! For more information on how you can rent one of Wonderland Expeditions' fully outfitted four-wheel drive trucks or SUVs check them out here.

Leave No Trace

Bulldozing your way through the woods and setting up camp wherever you please, destroying plants, and scaring away wildlife as you go has a significant impact on the environment. By being respectful and following the principles of Leave No Trace, you are protecting these public lands for yourself and for future campers. If you want to learn more about enjoying the outdoors while minimizing environmental consequences, read this blog by Outdoor Project Contributor Matthew Durrant about Leaving No Trace.

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Published in collaboration with Wonderland Expeditions

Wonderland Expeditions rents fully outfitted 4X4 trucks, SUVs, and trailers with pop-up campers and rooftop tents. Based in Portland, Oregon, we are in the heart of one of the most beautiful regions in our country, close to the mountains, high desert and the incredible Oregon and Washington coasts.  Our capable 4x4 truck campers and trailers were built for backcountry adventure and come kitted with pop-up campers or roof-top tents, and all necessary camping equipment, so you can overland in style and comfort.  Bring your desire to explore and leave the rest behind.

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