- Your Public Lands
Umatilla National Forest (Walla Walla Ranger District)
- What To Do
This is the only designated winter camping area in the Blue Mountains. The snow camping area is located behind the parking area between the sledding area and snowmobile trail. There is no fee to camp, but a valid sno-park permit to use the parking lot is required.
Andies Prairie is the only designated sledding and winter camping area in the Umatilla National Forest. The sledding area is an old rock pit that has been shaped to provide sled runs. Pack your helmet as this is not your in-town hill.
- How To Get There
Please do not solely rely on Google Maps as their route might not always reflect what is maintained. From Walla Walla, take HWY 11 south. Five miles past Milton-Freewater turn left on Winn Road. Continue two miles and turn left onto HWY 204. Take HWY 204 east approximately 26 miles to Andies Prairie Sno-Park on your left. Park in the Andies Prairie Sno-Park parking lot. Do not park on the side of the highway.
- When To Go
Obviously the season starts at the mercy of the weather, but typically expect a November start date and enjoy your sled or tube for potentially another five months. Whenever the valley is foggy and gray, gain elevation as quick as you can. Likely, the sun is out for what feels like the rest of the world (just not Walla Walla). There is a Tollgate webcam that may allow users the opportunity to scout conditions.
- What To Expect
Make sure you are prepared for changing weather (dress in layers, bring food/water, and let somebody know of your plans). On the weekends the snow park is usually pretty busy. If you can escape during the week, you just might have the place to yourself. Be aware of other folks sledding. Because of the shape of the bowl, people end up sledding toward each other, meeting at the bottom. Make sure to take turns. The slopes toward the top of the bowl are long and steep, and it is really hard to put the brakes on once you get started. We often walk down past the initial crowd as the slopes aren’t so long or steep. The kids seem to appreciate a gentler slope as well.
No additional fees beyond the required Oregon Sno-Park permit.
Oregon Sno-Park permit required November through April. Permits are available at the Alpine Outpost in Tollgate, Oregon or Ranch & Home in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.
No motorized vehicles are allowed in the Andies Prairie Sno-Park. There are plenty of snowmobile trailers that usually park in the lot, but they are utilizing other motorized vehicle trails designated throughout the forest.
There are two vault toilets in the parking area.
- Wildlife Awareness
We are all so fortunate to recreate in the Blue Mountains. So many opportunities exist to play outside whether in a national forest, wilderness area, on a Wild and Scenic River, and more! With these opportunities comes great responsibility to appreciate that we are mere visitors and should all take pride in being good stewards of the wild. Many animals call these protected places home, including moose, elk, bear, cougar, bobcat, and snakes to name a few. Take precautions to respect their home and understand the appropriate response should an encounter occur. Additionally, many plant species thrive in the Blue Mountains, so staying on trail is always good practice. Carry First Aid supplies to better respond to accidents or encounters, and always let others know where the day's adventure is taking you.
- Field Notes
Navigation: Consider downloading the Avenza Map app. This app allows users to upload three maps (or unlimited with a subscription) to use offline. It can track your location offline and overlay GPS data from the phone onto the map. The vehicle use maps (for trails allowing motorized vehicles) are the easiest to use. Otherwise, Geo Tracker offers similar tracking capabilities and additional details about your adventure. If no service, Geo Tracker will at least show your location. The Blue Mountains and surrounding area offer a remote recreating experience, and knowing your location is paramount to staying safe. Always make sure to bring paper maps. Tell others where your adventure is taking you and when you expect to return.
Difficulty Level: Here is what we are thinking when we assign a difficulty level: Day Tripper--You don't have much experience in the area but want to get outside! Great for families of all ages. Adventurer--You know your way around the Blue Mountains and love a leisurely day outdoors. Mountaineer--You are ready for a challenge. Wild places excite you and sweat is the goal. Small children beware. Keep in mind some activities may apply to multiple difficulty levels based on usage.
Pets: In general, pets are allowed on a leash and under control throughout jurisdictions. The only restrictions we have encountered are around swimming areas. As a best practice, be mindful of riparian habitat in general. You never know where a precious spawning area might be located. Pack it in and pack it out applies to your furry friend as well.