The McKenzie Pass and Central Oregon

- 16 June 2001 -


Before Saturday, I hadn't ever driven to Central Oregon, although I'd been there before lots of times.

My mom always said that the McKenzie Pass (OR 242) was not the way to go -- it was narrow, winding, and just unpleasant. So, of course, that's the way I decided to go. ;)

  It was just as she described it (go figure, eh? ;) ) I didn't get too many pictures of the pass itself, because I was too busy gripping the steering wheel, sweating, and trying to survive yet another damn 15 MPH curve. ;)  

The lava beds were cool, though, and so was the Dee Wright Observatory near the summit of the McKenzie Pass... when I could stop and take pictures, I did, because I knew I was never going to drive OR 242 again. ;)

And, of course, I love Bend. :) I don't really want to move over there anymore (except during Eugene's awful allergy season :b ), but I like to visit. It's very scenic. Eugene is scenic, too, but Bend is scenic in a desert sort of way. :)

(Then again, since Eugene has missed 60% of its usual rainfall this year, maybe it too will be scenic in a desert sort of way, by around August ;) )


A scenic moment on the McKenzie Pass.

Most of the McKenzie Pass was made up of hairpin 15 MPH corners, a tall thick corridor of coniferous trees close to the road, and an understory of ferns and small plants. This was a moment when I could actually see a mountain, so I pulled over and took a picture. I think it's the North Sister (of Three Sisters fame).


Yansa and the lava rock!

This is me, at the first spot I got to pull over and take a picture of the lava rock. This is the place where, in commemoration of the herculean efforts my car went through to get me here, I renamed my car The Bionic Buffalo. :)

If I'm reading my map right, the hill behind me in the distance is "Black Crater". Truth in advertising ;)


Dead trees, living trees, and lava rock.

A typical view on OR 242 when one is going through the lava beds. 

The mountain on the right may be the infamous Black Crater again.


Mountains, dead trees, living trees, and lava rock.

The mountains are the Three Sisters (the Middle Sister is there, it's just not very easily visible due to the snow on the South Sister). This was the second place I got to pull over and take pictures of the lava -- there weren't very many spots where one could safely pull off the road. 

This spot was also being utilized by a roving pack of Californians. A fairly cute college-aged Californian guy was giving his family a highly erroneous lecture on the geology of this area (including "dude, I think that's, like, a glacier, or something", which was received with a chorus of "like, wow" ;) ) I couldn't help but smirk, shake my head, and think, "Californians." ;)


More mountains, lava rock, etc.

This picture is the view just to the left of the last one. The North Sister is visible.


Mountain, trees, lava rock.

This was one of the more forested spots near the Dee Wright Observatory, which was the third (and last) place I got to take pictures of the lava.

I believe the mountain is our beloved Black Crater, yet again. It seemed to pop up in way too many of my pictures.


The Dee Wright Observatory itself. 

The "observatory" is a lava-rock semi-castleish thingy with a bunch of windows on it, through which one can, y'know, observe things (hence, "observatory"). There's also a path to the roof of the observatory, where you can get an even better view of the area. (Including... yes... Black Crater! What view would be complete without Black Crater? ;) )


Closeup of the Dee Wright Observatory.

Hey, it's a window! And stuff!


Dead trees, living trees, lava rock. Facing roughly northeast.

The gray lines are 10+ foot tall dead trees.

This is the first of the pictures taken from the roof of the Dee Wright Observatory.


Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and lava rock.

Mt. Washington is on the left, and Three Fingered Jack is visible in the center of the picture, off in the distance.


The Three Sisters, and the mountain locator plaque thing. 

Behold the Three Sisters. Also, behold the mountain locator plaque, which was set up in 1937.


Mountains, parking lot, lava rock, trees, ad nauseam.

The people in the parking lot are walking toward the Bionic Buffalo. The mountain is Scott Mountain (not Black Crater).

Note the two "kipukas" -- the green ovals on the hill where the trees are still intact. The lava avoided those areas for some reason, and so trees are still able to exist there.


Typical Central Oregon scenery.

This picture was taken by the side of OR 242 on the way to Sisters. Most of the Cascade foothill area in Central Oregon looks like this: ponderosa pine (I think that's what those trees are) and sagebrush.


Typical Central Oregon scenery.

By the side of OR 242, west of Sisters, facing eastish. US 20 northwest of Sisters looks a lot like this, too.


The Cascades!

The Three Sisters are on the left, Mt. Washington is on the right in the far distance, and something else (perhaps it's... oh my... could it be? Black Crater???) is in the middle. Typical Central Oregon flatland scenery is in the foreground -- the green stuff is sagebrush.

This picture was taken between Sisters and Bend on US 20. The mountains are far more impressive in person; as usual, my camera was very good at minimizing mountain grandeur. :b 


The Cascades again!

Broken Top is on the left, and The Three Sisters are in the center. 

If my camera was being its usual self that day, Black Crater (yes, the Black Crater!) is the one on the right.

This picture was taken at the same spot as the last one.


The Cascades -- new and improved, now with FreshMintŪ!

The Three Sisters (right) and Mt. Bachelor (left), again. Same spot, same scenic beauty, same sagebrush.


The Cascades, from Central Oregon Community College.

I went to Central Oregon Community College back in Spring 1996, and I lived in the dorms up at Juniper Hall. I tried to get some pictures that would give you an idea of the astounding view I had from up there... this one gets close, but it's still not nearly as impressive as the view from the common area inside the building. 

This picture was taken from the parking lot that's uphill from Juniper Hall. The Three Sisters are in the center; Broken Top is left of that, Mt. Bachelor is left of that, and who knows what's left of that, because there's a tree in the way.


More Cascades, courtesy of COCC.

The Three Sisters, juniper trees, and a pickup truck.


Typical Central Oregon Community College scenery.

The COCC campus is on a hill (Awbrey Butte, actually). I had to hike about a mile uphill to the cafeteria before lunch every day. It was not cool. 

However, this spot was very, very cool -- usually it was fairly windy out, and I'd stop here, about halfway back from the Boyle Education Center, to take in the fragrance of the juniper trees and hear the unique corduroyish noise of the wind through said trees. :) 


Text written 19 June 2001.
Last updated 19 January 2006.

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