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Dee Wright Observatory, Blue River

(4.9/5 based on 65+ reviews on the web)
Dee Wright Observatory is an observation structure at the summit of McKenzie Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. The structure is an open shelter constructed with lava stone. It is located in the midst of a large lava flow, and offers an exceptional view of numerous Cascade peaks.LocationDee Wright Observatory is located in the Willamette National Forest 15 miles (24 km) west of Sisters, Oregon on Route 242. The highway is part of the McKenzie-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway. McKenzie Pass is 5325ft above sea level, and winter snow and the narrow road surface requires McKenzie Pass to be closed from November to July each year.StructureThe observatory is an open shelter built with lava stone found at the construction site. The viewing windows are cut to specifically highlight the neighboring mountains. These "lava tube" viewing holes allow visitors to easily identify the different Cascade peaks. There is also a 36 inch (90 cm) diameter, bronze azimuth-like "peak finder" on the observatory’s roof to help visitors locate nearby geologic features as well as the surrounding mountain peaks. From the top of the observatory, visitors have a panoramic view of the Cascade Mountain Range including Mount Hood in the far north.Many peaks can easily be seen from Dee Wright Observatory: 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, Green Ridge, and Horsepasture Mountain can also be seen from the observatory during good weather.
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  • This place was so cool! It's definitely worth a stop on the way through. If you climb up you can peep through the windows that tell you what mountain you're looking at! Definitely worth stopping!  more »
  • This stop is excellent for adults and children. The views are great, and the educational path through the lava is one of the best I've ever walked. No one should miss this opportunity. The educational...  more »
  • Decided to take the 242 as we wanted to get away from the normal state roads. Well the 242 is full of tight turns & twists and something different around nearly everyone of them. And then you get to t...  more »
  • An amazing place with amazing views. I am related to Mr. Wright and my Uncle spins tales of his times as a packer and guide in the Pacific Northwest and enlighten our youngest of family members. I have brought both my children here over the years and I enjoy every visit and the majestic view from the top of the observatory!
  • Truly one of the best experiences of my life! The trail through the lava beds is fascinating. And the view from the observatory was like nothing I've seen before. It makes you feel very SMALL! :) Such a beautiful and peaceful place, even though it was a Saturday afternoon when we visited. I can't wait to go again.
  • Beautiful views. Totally worth the stop. Great info plaques.
  • Beautiful spot. Pretty busy. There is a trail off to the side of the observatory that is actually a better deal than the observatory. The observatory was crowded so we walked the trail & ended up with comparable views & better experience.
  • The views were amazing and the drive through old-growth forests made the trip getting there just as much fun. Plan plenty of time to hike the trails around the Observatory. This place is a must-visit!