Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
In planning a route for a summer road trip with my mother through central Oregon, I determined to take as many of the designated Scenic Byways as I could. We managed to include parts of the West Cascades Scenic Byway, Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway and the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway; all of which I had traveled before.
But, we also explored one that was new to me – the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. This 66-mile-long route stretches between the city of Bend, westward around Mt. Bachelor, then south along the Cascade Mountain’s eastern foothills to join Hwy. 58 about 40 miles east of Oakridge.
I had envisioned a narrow, twisting mountainous road hemmed in by dense forest. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find a smoothly paved and relatively straight highway running through stands of sparse pine forest and open meadows, offering tantalizing glimpses of snow-topped peaks and sparkling water.
Scattered along this highway like pearls on a necklace are a chain of about a dozen lakes, each offering an alluring array of recreational opportunities. While our schedule only allowed us to stop briefly at a few of these, I heard an inner siren song urging me to come back and stay awhile. Most of the lakes offer campgrounds and boat launches, and some have resort facilities. I could see myself returning with my RV, going hiking and kayaking, then relaxing by a campfire in the evenings while watching the sunset.
Central Oregon is amazingly beautiful and has so much to offer. Outdoor enthusiasts will find it all here; hiking, biking, boating, fishing, camping, skiing and more. To be honest, I was a bit jealous of Bend residents, living in the midst of this recreational paradise. Hey, but at least I can visit.