Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Introduction

CascadeLakesMapIf you enjoy a road trip, central Oregon is a driver’s or cyclist’s dream. Most of the year it isn’t that crowded compared to interstates and big city traffic.
Round a bend to find Mount Bachelor looming larger than life—and find its image perfectly reflected in a mile-high lake around another bend—and you’ll understand why Scenic America named the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway one of the nation’s most important byways.
The Byway passes through the heart of central Oregon, with the towering Cascade Mountains providing a constant backdrop for a recreational paradise that offers first class fishing, boating, hiking, rock climbing opportunities and wonderful alpine and Nordic skiing in the winter. The mountains provide practical as well as scenic pleasures; they block moist air from the Pacific, giving this region as many as 250 sunny days a year!
You’ll pass along the shores of the renowned Deschutes River and a dozen lakes, as well as many noteworthy geological formations hewn by glacial and volcanic activity. Several old-time lakeside resorts offer respite from the road in the form of an ice cream cone or a comfortable room. Campers will find a bounty of excellent campgrounds.
Nearby Attractions
High Desert Museum: This museum on U.S. Highway 97 in Bend has excellent displays on the natural and cultural history of the area.
Lava Lands Visitor Center: Further south on U.S. Highway 97, you can tour Lava Butte, an extinct volcanic cone, and take in interpretive exhibits.
Newberry Volcanic Monument: Another 20 miles southeast you’ll reach the Newberry Volcanic Monument, which is noteworthy for many volcanic wonders, including a vast obsidian flow.
Space Rocks
In the mid-1960s, astronauts trained along the Cascade Lakes Highway in preparation for the Apollo missions to the moon. In 1971, Astronaut Jim Irwin of the Apollo 15 mission placed an earth rock from a volcanic dome near Devils Lake on the lunar surface. It’s the only earth rock on the moon.