McKenzie Pass – Proxy Falls, Deschutes NF, Oregon

As promised, our blue sky day came through as we made our way up McKenzie Pass. Oregon Route 242 (no trailers, max length 30 feet, our kind of road) is cut through the lava beds, across McKenzie Pass on the way west to Eugene.

It’s a beautiful narrow little twisty steep road that looks like you are on the moon.

In the 1930s, Dee Wright, one of the supervisors of the CCC that was constructing the road decided to build an observatory in his spare time. The tiny observatory is made completely from blocks of Lava.

The doors and windows look out toward wonderful mountain vistas of Mt Hood, Black Butte, and the Three Sisters and Little Brother. Tiny portholes in the walls focus on each peak and the name of the peak is inscribed on a small concrete block under the porthole.

We got our pictures of the Three Sisters.

Anyone know what this sign means?

People with hula hoops ahead?

Farther west along Route 242 we found the trailhead to Proxy Falls. This is an interesting trail.

It starts out climbing through a moss and lichen covered lava field along a river “heard, but not seen”, then enters a dark forbidding forest primeval of huge moss covered Douglas Fir with strange patches of lichen and canyon walls covered with Rhododendron in bloom. It was very pretty if a little spooky.

Bear Grass

Proxy Falls.

A second set of falls, nearby, is very unusual in that the water fall tumbles down to a small pond with no outlet. It appears that the water drains down through the lava to the river, but slow enough that the pond holds water.


One response »

  1. Hi you guys! It’s Courtney. I love following your blog. The hula hoop decals are placed by fans of a really bad jam band called String Cheese Incident.

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Sharing our love of America's Natural Wonders


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