McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway, Proxy Falls, Scott Lake and Dee Wright Observatory

Thursday morning 10/16 turned out to be another sunny one even though very chilly. Temps dropped into the low 30’s last night, BRRRRRRRR!

Speaking of cold, last night was the coldest we have camped in since getting our new coach and let me take a second to say how much we have grown to love the heated floors in our coach. With only the floors on last night we woke this morning to warm floors and the coach was warm enough to sit around in shorts and a tee-shirt comfortably.

Then with just a flip of the switch we turned on our fireplace for just a little extra heat and things were perfect in just a matter of minutes. We couldn’t be happier.

We did need to turn on the diesel burner side of our Aqua-Hot to have enough hot water for both of us to shower which we knew we would. The electric side of the Aqua-Hot is only good into the mid to low 40’s NOT LOW 30’s.


Rigs no longer than 35' are allowed on the road.

Rigs no longer than 35′ are allowed on the road.

After breakfast and showers we decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and take a drive on the McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway. McKenzie Pass follows the path of an 1860 wagon route. The route emerges from the forest and crosses a 65-square-mile lava flow. At the summit, the wagon road had to be cut through the lava beds. Today’s highway follows the wagon route over the lava beds past the Dee Wright Observatory site.

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The observatory made of lava rock was built during the Great Depression by a Civilian Conservation Corps crew at Camp Belknap near Clear Lake. It was completed in 1935, and named for the construction crew’s foreman who had died the previous year after serving 24 years as a Forest Service packer and crew foreman at Camp Belknap.

We were lucky enough to have such a nice day that many peaks could be seen: Mount Jefferson, Cache Mountain, Dugout Butte, Black Butte, Bluegrass Butte, Black Crater, North Sister, Middle Sister, Little Brother (and ridge west), Condon Butte, Scott Mountain, South Belknap Cone, Belknap Crater, Little Belknap, and Mount Washington. Mount Hood, Bald Peter and Green Ridge.

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Inside the observatory viewing windows are cut to specifically highlight the neighboring mountains which made it easy to pick out specific mountains.


There is also a half-mile long Lava River Interpretive Trail that begins at the observatory and meanders through lava beds. There are numerous interpretive panels located along the trail highlight the geology of the area.

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I wore shorts for our journey and while atop the observatory I realized that a long pair of (as Diane calls them) big boy pants would have been ok LOL!! I guess I should have expected it to be cool at 5,325 feet where the observatory was built.

After the observatory we continued on in search of the Proxy Falls trail head.

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The trail to the falls is set up as a loop and is really a pretty easy hike through a very scenic wooded area. And the Falls drop 226 feet in two streams. I’m sure if you timed it right it would make for some spectacular photos. Of course we didn’t so you get what you get LOL!!

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There are actually two falls along the hike that are pretty close together. The second fall drops and gathers in a pond with no obvious place the water escapes to. So obviously it goes underground from there. Which is pretty cool.


The water gathers in the pond and then leaves underground

The water gathers in the pond and then leaves underground

After the falls we headed towards Scot Lake. But before we got there we stopped at John Templeton Craig’s (The Pioneer Mailman) monument. (Remember, you can click on the pictures to enlarge)


You can click on the photo to enlarge

You can click on the photo to enlarge



Then we headed towards Scott Lake again. Once there we found a nice spot to eat our picnic lunch and enjoy the quiet. Scott Lake is at the 4800ft elevation. The air was clean and brisk. A great place to hang out for a bit before heading back down the hill.

A great place to have lunch

A great place to have lunch

Scott Lake

Scott Lake

Scott Lake taken with the toy.

Scott Lake taken with the toy.

As we went through Sister on our way home we decided to stop and eat dinner in town. We conveniently forgot to take anything out of the freezer for dinner so it sounded like the thing to do.

We ate at the Gallery Restaurant. We actually ate in the bar, not the restaurant. Diane had a Reuben and I had liver and onions before heading home for the evening.

A weather front is supposed to come through Friday so we plan to visit the High Desert Museum in Bend so stop back in soon to check it out.

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One Response to McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway, Proxy Falls, Scott Lake and Dee Wright Observatory

  1. WOW, what a spectacular day!!! Every viewpoint was beautiful and the sky was so blue!!!

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