UPDATE — We arrived in Oregon a short time ago (blog posts are not keeping up with our travels in "real-time"). This post details one of our first OR adventures.
We took this "selfie" at the Oregon Welcome Center shortly after we arrived.The friends we came to visit, suggested a scenic drive which was en route to Eugene.The McKenzie Highway (Oregon Route 242) is located between Sisters and Belknap Springs, OR. It loops through the Willamette National Forest and the Cascade Mountain Range. At 5,325 feet above sea level, it's the quickest way to cross the Cascades. Lucky we drove this scenic route now. The narrow road is not plowed or sanded and closed from November to July.
Leading up to the summit (elevation 5335 feet), the pass cuts through a 65-square-mile lava flow. Yes, there were volcanoes in Oregon too many (many) years ago.
Located about halfway along the route and the summit is the Dee Wright Observatory in the Willamette National Forest at the summit. This castle-like structure was built from lava rock found on-site in the middle of a large lava flow.
The observatory was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and named in memory of Dee Wright, the crew’s foreman who had died the previous year after 24 years as a Forest Service employee. Sadly, he never saw its completion.
Access to the top is by a series of stone steps in front or a narrow paved path in the back. Once the climb is done (whew) and you enter the dome, lava viewing windows are cut out to frame the surrounding mountain peaks.
Not surprisingly since the 65 square miles of black lava rock looks like a moonscape, NASA conducted drills with astronauts as they prepared for moon travel in 1964.
The 82-mile long McKenzie Highway is a National Scenic Byway. It has the highest concentration of snowcapped volcanoes and associated glaciers in the lower 48 states.The route became a state highway in 1917 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
This was one of the most amazing roads we've traveled on during this cross country road trip to date. The landscape included lush forests, stark lava fields, and mountain peaks, all in a single drive, even if it was a long and curving one.
(We met up with our Oregon friends a day or so after this drive and will have more posts on sights there and then on the route back to NH. Thanks, again for traveling along and especially for all your comments.)