Looking for a gorgeous road trip? Look no further than the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, a 66-mile stretch in central Oregon that’s sure to delight all outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy access to hiking, fishing, canoeing, and skiing (as late as June!), and of course, an abundance of gorgeous scenery. Plan a mountain vacation you’ll always remember!
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Begin in Bend
Make your home away from home in the city of Bend while you enjoy all that the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway has to offer. Bend is one of Oregon’s most popular places for outdoor recreation, with great weather in this high-desert city. The vibrant downtown area is bordered by the beautiful Deschutes River, and you can enjoy sampling specialty beers from Bend’s incredible array of craft breweries, browsing the shops, or just strolling along the waterfront. Bend is also home to the High Desert Museum, where you can get a great introduction to the area through displays of cultural and natural history exhibits, as well as a large outdoor live-animal habitat space.
As you leave Bend to head west, you’ll pass into the Deschutes National Forest, where the Deschutes River offers ample opportunities for fishing and canoeing, as well as several lovely waterfalls. Inhale the fresh pine scent: there’s no doubting you’re in the mountains now! A turnoff from the highway leads to Mt. Bachelor ski resort, the largest in Oregon. Visiting in summer? It’s still worth the trip. Not only does Mt. Bachelor’s snow often last until June, but in summer, visitors can still ride a chairlift to Pine Marten Lodge, whose 7,775-foot elevation offers incredible views all the way from Washington to California! It’s a must-see. Please note that in winter, the highway is closed past Mt. Bachelor.
Landscape of Lakes
As you head down from Mt. Bachelor, the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway offers a unique view of Broken Top Mountain, a tall volcano, and you’ll marvel at the fascinating geology that created this special mountain range. Be sure to stop for a picnic, or at least a photo, by majestic Sparks Lake and Devils Lake. Astronauts trained for the moon-landing missions here near Devils Lake in the 1960s, due to the rugged lunar-type landscape. Additionally, scientists have found evidence of ancient Native American encampments here, including pictographs that are thousands of years old.
You’ll continue to see more lakes as the byway continues to the south, and fishing enthusiasts will want to take their time! Elk Lake Recreation Area offers easy water access, along with boat rentals and dining. Nearby Hosmer Lake also offers great fishing and incredible views of Mt. Bachelor. The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway ends up near Crescent Lake and Odell Lake, two more places to cast a line if you’re so inclined, or just kayak if you’re not.
By MB298 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61980277
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