ENJOY THE JOURNEY
To McKenzie River/McKenzie Pass, Central Oregon
Everyone needs a mini vacation to escape the confines of the Covid 19 pandemic. Last month I planned a road trip to Central Oregon along the McKenzie River Hwy 126 and up and over McKenzie Pass on Hwy 242 ending in Sisters, Oregon. My goal was to get away and enjoy the journey!
I started my adventure with an exciting fishing trip on the McKenzie River with Spencer’s Outfitters (Spenceroutfitters.com) located in Walterville, Oregon a 30 min drive East of Eugene on highway 126. Try dry fly fishing in a drift boat with an experienced guide. You are guaranteed to catch a “Big one”. (Well I caught 8 small rainbow trout which equals one big one!)
Cooking fresh fish on my Coleman stove for lunch was a delicious treat. There are multiple campgrounds and rustic lodges tucked along the river to stay at. I chose Belknap Springs Lodge, built in 1933, it was a great place to relax and soak in the 2 natural hot spring pools – a perfect place to end the day.
Next on my adventure agenda was to pedal my bicycle up and over McKenzie Pass on highway 242. I had wanted to do this a very long time and was so excited to finally be there. If you don’t have time to bike the pass you can drive the historic 34 mile scenic bikeway in just under 2 hours. It is only open 3 months of the year and totally worth it!
Start your ride(drive) in Belknap Springs. Watch the scenery brilliantly change before your eyes. Climb the twisty road thru shady evergreen trees up into wildflower filled mountain meadows. As you begin to crest the pass the road levels and the green meadows turn into black, barren lava flats – the temperature rises 10 degrees. As I neared the top, I time-trialed the hot straightaway pretending I was in the Tour de France. My heart was racing as I pushed up the last incline and Voila!! I had reached the summit at 5,325 feet! The Dee Wright Observatory made of lava rocks was smack in the middle of the lava flats. I had never seen so many mountain tops from one place ( Black Butte, Mt. Washington, Mt. Hood to name a few). It was a sight to behold! It was so cool to step inside the lava dome built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps under the direction of Dee Wright. The views are spectacular especially on a clear day. There is a half mile interpretive trail that is well worth the twenty minute walk.
Descend the pass thru beautiful ponderosa pines and end your journey in Sisters, Oregon, a quaint little town with a western flair. I camped at Sister’s Creekside Campground – only $16 per night, close to town, and mountain bike trails galore to explore. So many fun things to see and do.
I highly recommend you hit the road soon and enjoy the journey wherever it takes you! For more adventure ideas visit Trailcrossings.com.