The total construction cost for the monumental Timberline Lodge was just $696,000, in 1938 dollars. This is the price of a two-bedroom condo in Government Camp today.Yes, there still is "camp" in Government Camp. Many of them, as a matter of fact. Thanks to Mt. Hood's ability to retain the only year-round ski-able slopes in the nation, Government Camp is a zoo scene during the summer months, with hundreds of well-heeled teens in town for snowboard camps and ski-racing clinics. When the camps are in full swing, the median age in this town may well be 16. Almost all the available lodging is taken up by the kids, many of them elite skiers who fly in from around the nation, and their minders.
The Huckleberry Inn (23075 E. Government Camp Loop, 503 272-3325) is the best choice for lodging in Government Camp. In the summer months, the 16 rooms are converted to dorm-style. Eighty percent of those bunk beds are occupied by ski-camp kids. If you have never roomed on a floor with 20 heavily caffeinated, hormone-crazed 15-year-olds, you're really missing something. If you can round up three hiker-trash buddies, the rooms represent an excellent value, right in the center of the action. There's a very good 24-hour diner on-site (the front-desk for the motel *is* the diner), plus a coin laundry. It's strongly recommended that you call ahead for a reservation here.
The Mt. Hood Inn (87450 E. Government Camp Loop, 503 272-3205) is a poor choice based on location and value. It's a 10-minute walk west down the loop road from the main settlement. Rooms are priced roughly on par with Timberline Lodge twin rooms.
However, there is an excellent reason to make the 10-minute walk on the loop road: The Mt. Hood Brewing Co. (87304 E. Government Camp Loop, 503 622-0724) has the best dinner menu in Government Camp, from pizza and burgers to impressive grilled salmon. And, yes, they do sell their nine craft-brews to go, in half-gallon containers known as "growlers." The microbrewery is part of the vast holdings of RLK, the concessionaire that operates the Timberline Lodge.
There are several lesser tavern options in "downtown" Government Camp. We strongly recommend Charlie's Mountain View (Multorpor Road at Government Camp Loop, 503 272-3333), a superior dive that does a fine burger. (This may be the best call for steaks, as well.) The Mountain View is the closest thing to a hiker-friendly restaurant in Government Camp.
What about Timberline Lodge (800 547-1406)? While there is certainly a case to be made for skipping Government Camp and picking up a resupply just feet off the trail, in many years we have never been able to nail down a reservation for a room in the majestic lodge. Never. During the summer the only affordable lodging at Timberline, chalet rooms with a shared bath, are very hard to secure when snowboard camps are running on the mountain. On the food front, the Ram's Head bar serves fine pub fare. (The other bar is closed in summer.) Across the parking lot from the main lodge, there may be affordable cafeteria fare in the Wy'East complex. And many thru-hiker journals mention Timberline's breakfast buffet as one of the most memorable meals of the trip.
Even if you can't nail a room, the Lodge is well worth a visit. This is, far and away, the grandest single structure on the entire trail -- a stunning example of lodge architecture rendered on a massive scale. The lodge, built by the WPA during the height of the Great Depression, is a living museum of American decorative arts. Everything from the hand-carved beams and tapestries to the wrought iron and stained glass was created by hand.