2015 Summer Journal

Campsite Planning at Snoqualmie Pass

Gold Pond, Snoqualmie Pass WA

After leaving Tiger Mountain we had a few choices to make. We didn’t really have anywhere to be, but knew we wanted to head in the direction of Montana, so we hopped on I90 and headed East. The slow climb up Snoqualmie Pass was a visual feast. I’ve said it before, but driving through a place in the bus is a completely different experience than doing so in a car. In this case, we were going about 30 mph up the hill (sorry, other travelers!) so I had a LOT of time to take in the forest.

It was Saturday and the day was quite rainy and cold, so we didn’t have any big adventures on the schedule. Instead we pulled into “Summit West” and headed in to The Commonweath for some delicious burgers and beer.

Outside Found Bus | Lunch at the Commonwealth restaurant at Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

The inside of Commonwealth. Pretty cool little spot!

After lunch we headed back to the bus and spent an indulgent afternoon napping and reading. We were parked in a parking lot just off the highway, but the bus was cozy and warm. Before we left I wondered whether or not the bus would ever feel like home rather than camping. In this moment, it really did. It’s pretty amazing to have a homebody afternoon in a place you’ve never been before!

Realizing that we needed a place to sleep but didn’t want to tackle another long drive, I turned to Google Earth to find us a good spot. I knew that the areas surrounding Snoqualmie Pass were mostly National Forest, which was a great sign because National Forests allow “dispersed camping,” which basically means you can camp wherever you want so long as you don’t ruin anything.

Google Earth is a pretty cool tool – basically Google Maps on steriods. You can see street maps and satellite photos of anywhere in the world, in super detail. It only took me a few minutes to find a vast network of forest service roads just off the freeway. Zooming in found me a big parking lot at the Gold Creek Trailhead that looked pretty nice, and a quick search of Alltrails.com confirmed that there was some great hiking nearby.

Outside Found Bus | Finding camping at Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

Big birds’ eye view: I90 going through the middle, Commonwealth on the left and Gold Pond on the right

Outside Found Bus | Finding camping at Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

Zoomed in to show our parking spot for the night

Outside Found Bus | Finding camping at Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

3D to show the incredible topography! The next day we ran up the drainage to a sub-alpine lake.

Our drive to Gold Creek was our first time driving the bus on bumpy dirt roads, and she was a champion! Some things came off their hooks in the garage, but for the most part everything held up really well. We’re going to add some additional bungies in the back to keep everything in place in the future.

Outside Found Bus | Campsite at Gold Pond on Snoqualmie Pass


Once we arrived we tucked the bus in the far back corner of the lot, paid our $5 fee, and made a delicious dinner. (Actually, it wasn’t great – “pasta sides” won’t ever be on our grocery list again.) Before the sun set we took a short walk around Gold Pond, which was amazing, and got to bed early to rest up for the next day’s big objectives. Check back tomorrow for photos from the hike!

Outside Found Bus | Campsite at Gold Pond on Snoqualmie Pass

Gold Pond, a former gravel pit for the construction of I90. I’d say they did a pretty good job with the restoration!

Outside Found Bus | Campsite at Gold Pond on Snoqualmie Pass

Gold Pond is a “wilderness observation area” so we were careful to keep Hilde on her leash and cause as little disturbance as possible.

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