Discover Our Landscapes
Santiam Pass takes its name from the Santiam Indians, a Kalapooian tribe native to the area. Several ashen buttes and other volcanic features are visible from the 4,817-foot pass. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail crosses here too, a particularly memorable stretch of the famous Canada-to-Mexico route, threading high among several volcanic peaks. This section of the road passes by mysterious Lost Lake, which fills up with water every spring and disappears in the fall down a hole into a lava tube. The byway descends the pass, then turns south on OR-126.
OR-126: The McKenzie River Highway
This stretch of the route showcases the beautiful peacock-blue waters of the Upper McKenzie, as the river tumbles south over waterfalls and through lava flows and here parallels the West Cascades Scenic Byway. The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail also follows the river’s route for more than 26 miles/41.8 kilometers, with several well-marked access points from the byway. Popular with hikers and mountain bikers alike, the trail was recently named by Outside magazine as one of its 10 Great American Mountain Biking Trails.
OR-242: McKenzie Highway
Past Belknap Springs, the byway swings east onto OR-242, the McKenzie Highway. In 9 miles/14.4 kilometers, a 1.3-mile/ 2-kilometer trail leads through lava fields reclaimed by forest to Proxy Falls. The lovely two-part falls spills over mosses and ferns, its waters largely disappearing right back into the green-blanketed rocks. The byway then switchbacks steeply through an area known as Deadhorse Grade, climbing nearly 1,200 feet in just 4 miles/6.4 kilometers. You’ll be treated to more outstanding volcano views, this time of North Sister and Middle Sister. Double the view with a short side trip up to Scott Lake, which mirrors these ragged peaks. The forest abruptly ends just shy of McKenzie Pass, replaced by an expanse of dark and broken lava that stretches for 65 square miles/104.6 square kilometers. It’s one of the most recent and most remarkable examples of volcanic activity in North America, the result of eruptions from Belknap Crater about 2,000 years ago. Learn more on the Lava River National Recreation Trail, a paved path through lava gutters and ridges. The Dee Wright Observatory — constructed of lava rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 — has viewing ports to see many surrounding Cascade peaks. Mt. Washington, just 5 miles/8 kilometers away, looks close enough to touch.
Tokatee Golf Club
Nestled in the beautiful McKenzie River Valley with glistening views of the Three Sisters Mountains, Tokatee Golf Club offers an incredible mix of postcard vistas and championship golf. Designed by renowned architect Ted Robinson, this 18-hole course is golf in the rugged outdoors with straightforward holes that are enhanced by their views of distant mountains and their use of native ponds and streams. Tokatee Golf Club is easily walkable, with memorable holes that inspire by their aesthetics and reward in their strategic quality.
Mountain and Road Biking
The McKenzie River Trail is one of the most famous and spectacular mountain bike trails in North America. It’s almost 25 miles in length with pristine lakes, old growth forests, and otherworldly lava fields. Explore breathtaking forest views while traversing log bridges that span the multiple streams and rivers that combine to make up the majestic McKenzie River and witness the vibrant topaz blue Tomolich Falls or “Blue Pool.” This natural wonder is truly a must see for everyone. Most riders will take at least four to five hours to complete the ride. Make sure to make time to dip your feet, have a picnic, or take selfies.
The Mckenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway is the most spectacular road bike ride in Central Oregon. Snow closes this seasonal road each winter. Before it reopens to vehicles in June, road crews plow open one lane for non-motorized recreation, making it a favorite spring cycling destination. At the summit is the lava-rock-constructed Dee Wright Observatory, which provides 360-degree views of mountains, buttes, and other magnificent topography, framed by windows inside the rocky structure.
Hoodoo Ski Park
Hoodoo Ski Area sits on the summit of Oregon’s Santiam Pass and is Oregon’s most centrally located destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Just 44 miles west of Bend, 85 miles east of Eugene and 130 miles southeast of Portland, Hoodoo Ski Area offers more than 800 acres of terrain, 34 runs, five lifts and one of the largest tubing parks in the West. Founded in 1938, Hoodoo is Central Oregon’s original ski area and your destination for family-friendly fun in your backyard!
Santiam Sno-Park – This sno-park located 5 miles east of Santiam Junction on Highway 126/20 offers access to the Pacific Crest Trail and one of only 2 tubing hills on the forest – the only recommended tubing and sledding hill in the Santiam Pass area.
Potato Hill Sno-Park – Located 2 miles east of the Highway 22 junction, adjacent to Highways 20/126. Hash Brown Loop connects with the Nash Potato Trail, offering a shuttle opportunity between Potato Hill and Little Nash Sno-Park.
Little Nash Sno-Park – This sno-park located one west of Santiam Junction along Highway 126/20 provides access to snowmobile trails and ski trail connections to the Potato Hill trails. The snowmobile route connects with Ray Benson Sno-Park via Santiam Wagon Road and Forest Service Road 2676 (Santiam Air Strip Trail). The ski trail is recommended for novice skiers.
Ray Benson Sno-Park- This sno-park provides access to multiple ski and snowmobile trails on the Willamette National Forest as well as ski and snowmobile trails on the Deschutes National Forest. The trail systems access three warming shelters on the Deschutes National Forest; Brandenburg Butte, Island Junction and North Blowout.