McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass loop, Sisters

4.9
#1 of 7 in Outdoors in Sisters
McKenzie Pass is a mountain pass in the Cascade Range in central Oregon, United States.
It is located at the border of Linn and Deschutes counties, approximately 20 mi northwest of Bend, between the Three Sisters to the south and Mt. Washington to the north. Oregon Route 242 passes over the pass.
At the summit of the pass, Oregon Route 242 crosses a 65sqmi lava flow just west of Sisters. Surrounded by lava, the Dee Wright Observatory was constructed in 1935 by Civilian Conservation Corps workers and named after their foreman. Visitors climb to the observatory to view the Cascade peaks visible from McKenzie Pass. Also near the summit is Clear Lake, a renowned location for fresh-water diving.
Highway 242 is not recommended for large trucks, trailers or motor homes due to numerous tight switchbacks. The pass is closed from November to July due to snow.
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McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass loop Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5.0
220 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • Out of Sisters Oregon take SR 242 McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass National Scenic Byway up to the Dee Wright Observatory. You if love out of the way places, scenic and unique vistas, take this drive. It wi...  more »
  • Went along the McKenzie pass to Sisters and thoroughly enjoyed the drive. Lots of great scenery and when we were there we saw evidence of fires which had damaged the trees  more »
Google
  • Beautiful no matter what time of the year
  • The Dee Wright Observatory is located at the pass, which provides a panoramic view and identification of nearby volcanoes and mountains. Hiking trails allow for a good walk through the lava fields, with lots of informational and educational signage to explain the history and geology. There's roadside parking available, and a few restrooms, too -- a rarity on this part of the back country roads.

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