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McKenzie-Santiam Scenic Byway

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Length: 82 miles / 131.2 km

Season: July until snow (sometimes earlier based on when snow melts)

Time to Allow: Give yourself 3 to 5 hours, including time to stop at overlooks and waterfalls.

McKenzie Pass - Santiam Pass Scenic Byway

Fees: Parking passes can be purchased from the ranger station in McKenzie Bridge allowing you to park and hike the trails allong the way.  (Many places do not require parking passes - some do.  Before your trip get a pass and save yourself the trouble of finding parking money.  You'l feel good knowing your parking pass fees help maintain the forest for us to use.)

Driving Directions: There are several ways to get to the Byway:

  • From Bend:  Take US Hwy 20 west to the town of sisters.
  • From Sisters: Head west on Hwy 242 to the edge of town where the byway begins.
  • From Eugene: Take State Hwy 126 east up the McKenzie River Ranger Station (the site of the Byway's West Portal.

Description

Discover the highest concentration of snow capped volcanoes (and associated glaciers) in the lower 48 states when you drive the McKenzie - Santiam Pass Scenic Byway!  Enjoy the breathtaking sight of Broken Top Mountain and the Three Sisters, along with their waterfalls, towering gloriously above the route.

Ancient lava fields lying next to calm, clear lakes, will provide you with a gentle reminder of the area's violent beginning.  This area really illustrates how the Cascade Range was built.

Points of Interest

Belknap Viewpoint - From this viewpoint, you can see the Belknap Crater Complex, clear evidence of recent volcanic activity.  The Belknap Crater Complex, a broad shield five miles of diameter and about 1,700 feet thick, was formed by fields of lava vents that erupted profusely about 1,500 years ago.

Little Belknap is an exception, in that it erupted about 3,000 years ago.  When it erupted, lava poured 12 miles to the west.

Dee Wright Observatory -  a stone memorial named after the man who oversaw its construction, provides sweeping panoramic veiws of the Cascade Mountain Range, as far north as Mt. Hood.

Lava River Trail - This half mile trail provides phenominal views of lava that flowed through Yahoah Crater.  Interpretive signs offer geologic information on the lava formations along the trail.

Willamette and Deschutes National Forests - this gorgeous stretch of wilderness is a recreational haven.  Featuring: Cool rivers, over a hundred lakes, over 1,400 miles of trails and Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Popular Activities in the national forest include hiking, fishing, rafting, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing and camping.  Downhill and cross country skiing, snow shoeing and snow mobiling are very popular in the winter.

 

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