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McKenzie-Santiam Pass Scenic Loop, Route 242

Seasonal route: The road is subject to closure in winter. Part of the McKenzie-Santiam Pass Loop, McKenzie Highway (SR 242) twists and turns through the Cascades, ascending to a height of more than 5,000 feet. During this journey, lush forest gives way to a high-altitude lava field offering amazing 360-degree views of the surrounding volcanic peaks. Due to the elevation, this byway is only open seasonally, depending on snowfall.


Fir trees abut narrow, two-lane McKenzie Highway as it climbs past trailheads leading to postcard-perfect waterfalls. After a series of steep switchbacks, the route arrives at a stark, almost lunar landscape. Near the 5,325-foot summit, the squat turret of Dee Wright Observatory stands atop a pile of lava boulders with stunning mountain vistas all around.


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