Directions: From Sisters, Oregon get onto Highway 242 and follow it for approximately 15 miles to the McKenzie Pass summit.
From the parking area get on the paved trail that’s near the bathroom. The short trail twists it’s way uphill through lava rock where it ends at the observatory that is also made of lava rock. Take the steps up to the roof of the observatory where you get great views of the surrounding area. It also has a peak finder that tells you the names off all the mountains you are seeing. The main mountains you will see are the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, and Black Butte. There are plenty of others to see but these are the big ones.
When you’re done on the roof head back down the stairs and go into the observatory. There are small square openings along the walls that you can look through and see each mountain. It’s kind of dark inside but it feels good on a hot day.
Heading back down take the back paved path that ends at the other side of the observatory. You should be dropped off right at the big wooden Dee Wright Observatory sign. Next, get on the Lava River National Recreation Trail. It’s a short interpretive trail that takes you out into the lava bed and gives you more views of the surrounding area. Head back out the way you came in on this trail.
This place is a great stop to take in all the mountains and get a good look at all the lava rock. We stop here whenever we’re doing a hike in the area, it’s always worth it!
Distance: 1 mile (easy)
Elevation: 115 Feet (easy)
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: All Ages
Parking Fee: None
Seasons: Open early summer through early fall. Call before heading out to make sure the road is open.
Popular: Yes. This place can get very busy.