Bonney Meadows Early Season Snow Camping Trip

I am still waiting for winter to really hit the Oregon Cascades, but we found a little snow up high at Bonney Meadows (around 5,200'). Bonney Meadows is on the Southeast side of Mt. Hood about 1.5 miles Northwest of Boulder Lake off forest road 4890. I took half a day off work Friday to go snow camping with my friend Kyle and his buddy Matt over the weekend. We met up in Sandy around 1 PM and hit the road after grabbing a quick bite to eat.

The forecast called for sunny skies and cool temperatures through the weekend, so we packed warm. We didn't hit snow on the road until the last four miles to Bonney Meadows. The snow we did find was frozen rock hard or solid ice. It made driving easy compared to deep powder. We each drove our own rig with me carrying one of my snowmobiles in back of my truck.

We made it to Bonney Meadows Campground with a couple hours of light left to set up camp. We were the only ones there and didn't end up seeing anyone else the entire weekend. Kyle barbequed some delicious rib-eye steaks for dinner and we stayed warm around our campfire. We used Kyle's carport tent with a couple propane heaters to stay warm while sleeping.

Our 10' x 20' tent     Snow in our campsite at Bonney Meadows Campground
Bonney Meadows, Oregon     Bonney Meadows Campground in the Snow

The next morning was cold and sunny (low 20's). Before breakfast, I went off on a short ride up to Bonney Butte to check out the views. I had only been there one time before during the raptor migration. During that trip the weather was rainy, so all I could see was fog in every direction. This morning was completely different. Besides having the butte all to myself, the views were spectacular! I could see Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, Mt Adams, and Bonney Meadows.

Mt Hood from Bonney Butte     Mt Jefferson from Bonney Butte

Later Saturday after enjoying a breakfast of bacon and eggs, we headed off toward Camp Windy. Kyle and Matt drove while I rode my snowmobile. As we increased in elevation the snow became deeper, but was still frozen hard on top.

Frozen snowmobile ride to Camp Windy     Kyle and Matt following behind my snowmobile

I easily made it to Camp Windy on my sled, but Kyle started to get stuck just before the camp. The weight of his Cruiser was breaking through the crust and he was spinning his balding tires in the dry snow beneath. Matt pulled him out a couple times with his Jeep and Kyle used his winch the last time to stay on the road.

Camp Windy, Oregon     Winching Kyle's Cruiser to keep it on the road

On the way back to camp I made a quick side trip back up to Bonney Butte to enjoy the views.

Bonney Butte with Mt Hood in the background     Bonney Meadows in the distance from atop Bonney Butte

After getting back to camp I took a quick ride around Bonney Meadows. There was very little snow compared to last weekend.

Frozen pond in Bonney Meadows     Bonney Meadows with Mt Hood in the background

We enjoyed a late lunch/pre-dinner appetizer of bratwurst sausages. After that, I took Matt on a snowmobile ride up to Bonney Butte to catch the sunset. It was cold and windy, but the views were excellent.

Mt Hood at sunset from Bonney Butte     Mt Jefferson at sunset from Bonney Butte
Bonney Butte Fire Lookout interpretive sign     Raptor migration over Bonney Butte interpretive sign
Bonney Butte at sunset with Mt Hood in the background     Bonney Butte at sunset with Mt Jefferson in the background
Mt Hood at sunset     Sunset from Bonney Butte

The next morning (Sunday), I woke up early and rode up to Bonney Butte again to watch the sunrise.

Mt Jefferson at sunrise from Bonney Butte     Bonney Meadows from Bonney Butte at sunrise
Sunrise on Mt Hood from Bonney Butte     Mt Hood at sunrise
Polaris Switchback Assault 800 at sunrise with Mt Hood in the background

We had a fun time snow camping at Bonney Meadows and definitely ate well. The temperature warmed up to about 40°F as we were packing to go home Sunday. It was a beautiful sunny day. While I love the sun, I wish the clouds would come back and dump a few feet of snow before Thanksgiving next week.

Gear List

2013 Polaris 800 Switchback Assault Snowmobile
HMK Summit V16 Pack
GMAX GM76X Helmet
Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Goggles
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric Boots
Columbia Men's Echochrome Ski Pants
Columbia Titanium Hightail II Softshell Jacket
Columbia Triple Trail Shell Jacket
Columbia Sportswear Alaskan Down Jacket
Columbia Sportswear Men's Lhotse Mountain II Parka Liner
Head Digital Sport Liner Gloves
Outdoor Research Ambit Gloves
Columbia Men's Fast Trek Fleece Hat
Marmot Lithium MemBrain 0°F Sleeping Bag
Earth Products Jamboree Military Style Aluminum Camping Cots
Therm-A-rest Explorer Self-Inflating Mattress
Mac Sports Padded Tripod Chair with Cup Holder
Costco 10'x20' Canopy
Mr. Heater Big Buddy Propane Heaters
Petzl TIKKA XP 2 Headlamp
Olympus Tough TG-1 Camera
Sony Action Cam HDR-AS15
Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Snow Shovel
First Aid Kit
iPhone w/NeoTreksGPS
Suunto A-10 Compass

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