Government Camp, Oregon is a small, unincorporated town in Clackamas County, Oregon. It is at an elevation of about 4400 feet and lies less than a half dozen miles from the summit of Mount Hood. It is located on Highway 26, a few miles from Barlow Pass, and the junction of the roads to Hood River and Bend. It supposedly received its name when early settlers found part of an abandoned military convoy there.

Government Camp is a fairly typical resort community, dedicated to those skiing and snowboarding (as well as hikers, bikers and other outdoor activities) near Mount Hood, at places such as Timberline Lodge. As such, there is very little permanent population, with the town consisting of a half dozen or so fancy (yet, given the clientele, informal) restaurants and cafes, as well as lodging. Most of the workers in these establishments commute in from Welches, Zig-Zag and Rhododendron, communities about a dozen miles westward. Most of the "residents" of Government Camp are presumably wealthy visitors from Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and further afield who visit the area for the unique outdoors experience available there.

Having visited Government Camp, I found it a somewhat surreal experience. Departing from the area of Rhododendron, itself a seemingly isolated and distant village, there is a 12 mile climb over a steep mountain highway, leading to Government Camp, which exists as a few streets spurring off of Highway 26. Within the limits of the town, a visitor feels that they are in the middle of a fashionable tourist district, with cafes, restaurants, taverns and arcades, and a wide main street that is perfect for strolling and talking (at least, in summer). But to walk more than a few hundred feet away puts someone in the middle of the ocean of trees that is the Mount Hood National Forest. In the winter, with the giant drifts of snow that can accumulate on the mountain, this is a lethal wilderness. It was surprising to see an entire city, separated from the world but created by the wealthy and privileged, dropped down in the middle of a wilderness. It is also surprising to see a community of people, interacting as neighbors, who may live hundreds or thousands of miles from each other "in real life".

How I see this town is probably different from how many visitors see this town: I see it as a continuation of the gradual gradation from urban, to suburuban, to rural, to wilderness that occurs going from Portland outwards. For many outdoorsman who visit the town, it is probably just one step on an archipelago of places to visit and ski, stretching from Whitefish to Whistler to Colorado, and probably seen as divorced from the surrounding terrain and society.

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