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Interesting observatory surrounded by lava roxks

We arrived in the middle of a snow storm so couldn’t see too much and the steps were slippy but... read more

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Tony B
,
Daventry, United Kingdom
A bit of a drive through barren, fire-scortched lands, but worth it.

Recent fires have left much of the forests along the Old McKenzie Highway ravaged and bleak. Vast... read more

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Shapley_Hunter
,
Thebes, Illinois
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Reviewed 2 weeks ago

We arrived in the middle of a snow storm so couldn’t see too much and the steps were slippy but worth going. The surrounding area has been hit by fire so was a bit desolate

Thank Tony B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Recent fires have left much of the forests along the Old McKenzie Highway ravaged and bleak. Vast stands of dead trees line the roadway leading up to McKenzie Pass and the Dee Wright Observatory.

The Summit of McKenzie Pass is a vast field of lava rock, mostly devoid of vegetation even before the fires struck. Atop this, the Dee Wright Observatory was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1927 by stacking the large lava stones to build a tower. Stairs were constructed within the lava bed, leading to the tower, and also forming trailheads around it.

There is also an accessible trail, built much later. There are privies on hand, near the handicapped parking and entrance.

The climb to the tower is not long nor particular strenuous. The lava-rock stairs are jagged and coarse.

The lower level of the tower contains windows aligned with the mountain peaks of the cascades. Carved within the rock, though difficult to read because of the black letters carved into dark grey rock, are labels identifying the peaks. There is an old, stone plaque, nearly unreadable, which tells the history of the tower and of the road through the pass. It has been recreated in Bronze in recent years, with the new plaque hanging near the old one.

Atop the observatory the open-air viewing affords excellent views of the Cascades, and of the lava bed upon which it is built. Between us and the mountains, we could see vast stands of unburned trees, though the view was partially obscured by the smoke of distant fires. The road on which we had come looked to stretch into oblivion, passing through a desolate landscape that looked to be a scene from some post-Apocalyptic movie. A paved and apparently-handicapped-accessible trail wound beside it, trying to parallel it but forced by the landscape to twist and bend like a snake toward some distant observation point.

We descended via the accessible path. It wound about, affording better views of the lava field than the stair had provided.

Thank Shapley_Hunter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2018

A great summer time attraction, especially traveling from Central Oregon to the Willamette Valley. Not a winter time road. Great views of several Cascade range mountains. If it is clear day, you cannot beat the view.

Thank Dave J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 2, 2018

The Dee Wright Observatory is less than a 1/2 hour ride out of Sisters on the scenic old McKenzie Hwy. The structure is easy to climb and has both stairs and ramps. It has portals that look out in the surrounding mountains and buttes. Plus there are numerous trails and walks you can do from here. About 10 minutes further west is a scenic overlook of the Sisters that is just spectacular. So for a very minimal investment in time, you can see some wonderful lava flows, beautiful mountains, and a hint of deep woods, and how fire affects the forest.

Thank redmondrovers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 28, 2018

Saw this on Google Earth. The incredible part from that view is how much lava remains around Bend and its surrounding communities from 1,500 years ago!
The fun part is being able to drive through it on highway 242. Be aware that it is closed in winter and early spring. We were here in early September.
This is not the occasional lava rocks or volcanic left-overs one sees in much of the West. This is a barren landscape of lava rock flows, with occasional trees here and there, and at one point the road goes right through a flow about house high.
There is an observatory here made from the surrounding rock. If it is not summer, consider a jacket or sweater. A chilly wind might hit you on the way up and down. There are primitive restrooms nearby. A short interpretive trail is to the east of the Observatory.
The Pacific Crest Trail is also accessible just a short distance west from the tower. It's at a pull out parking lot. Not distinctly noted, so you have to watch for it. The PCT goes around and through the small circles of trees missed by the lava flow, that you can see from the tower. There are also trails from it to the surrounding small peaks.
There are areas of burned forest east of the flow.
And west of the flow, the road twists and turns through forest for miles before reaching highway 126. It can get a bit boring after awhile in what I call "tree tunnels."

Thank F4981JCmichaels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2018

If you are near Sisters, take the time to take a short drive up Hwy 242 to the Observatory. Not only is there a great view of the Sisters and other surrounding mountains but the history of the rock building, with viewer slots, is great.

Since you are so high in elevation, if there is any cloud cover its difficult to see the mountains.

Thank WorldTrvlr13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2018 via mobile

On our way back to Portland from Redmond we passed the Dee Wright Observatory. All around this observatory there is tonnes of lava .... pretty impressive. Driving from Sister one sees many kilometers of burned forest, pretty awful. Standing on the raised observatory one can see Mt Washington and the 3 Sisters + a few other smaller mountains. A visit to this observatory is really worth it

Thank Havaki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 20, 2018 via mobile

Several years ago I passed through here and never stopped. This year I was determined to stop. It was peaceful and a short climb to look out over everything. The stairs are made of lava rock and it made the climb a little tougher but doable. This is a must see. I fee the cut out which shows each mountain was well thought out.

Thank Kieande
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 19, 2018

The landscape surrounding Dee Wright Observatory is more like a moonscape, just amazing. Views of the mountains from the observatory are just awesome, and the trails through the lava field are worth doing. The observatory is 16 miles from Sisters, but the road to McKenzie Pass and the observatory is only open from about June until there is too much snow .... something like October or November.

Thank Oskarduck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 9, 2018 via mobile

Good view of the surrounding mountains and they are all labeled in case you want to know. Vault toilet.

Thank AnnElizabeth97123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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