Lava Lake Campground on Old McKenzie Pass
The News We’ve been waiting for!
Oregon Dept. of Transportation announcement:
The McKenzie Pass Highway 242 has reopened to all traffic!
It’s been closed, so far this year, for repaving and replacement of 3 bridges, frustrating our wishes to spend more time photographing this unique area of Oregon.
This is a historic highway, very narrow, crooked in the extreme, and limited to vehicles or vehicles and trailers, of 35 feet or shorter. In my opinion, 35 feet is really pushing the limits! In the lava fields the road passes through, tall walls of rock crowd the edges of the very sharp curves, making canyons of stone. Meeting a large pickup on some of these is tight! The west side also has some switchbacks that have 180 degree, 5-10 mph curves. On the highway maps, this looks like a shortcut from Sisters to Eugene. Trust me, it’s the scenic route, and with all the very slow curves, it’s much slower! We’re looking for adventures and photographs, so it’s just our type of road.
Our favorite headquarters for hiking and photography, is Lava Camp Lake Campground.
This is a small lake, about a mile east of Dee Wright Observatory, on the south side of the highway. The campground is primitive, with 10 or so, well spaced campsites. There are fire pits, picnic tables, pit toilets, no drinking water, and few people. It is handy to the Cascade Crest Trail and many other hikes. To the east, through the woods, are several more small lakes that are photogenic and very private.
The area is packed photo ops! With many snags, weathered, dead trees, lava rock, and several mountain peaks, along with patches of alpine forest, be sure to have plenty of memory cards or rolls of film.
Dee Wright observatory has a top floor with signs to ID the various peaks. Don’t miss the interpretive trail through the lava fields, it’s really an interesting walk.
This is from the trail, looking back at the observatory at sunrise/moonset.
Maybe I’ll see you there……soon!