Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
Length: 66 miles / 106.2 km
Time to Allow: Allow 3 to 5 hours to tour this Byway.
Spend a lazy day driving the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway in central Oregon. The drive takes about three to five hours to drive 66 miles, depending on your speed. You can enjoy the trail best between June and October as the road closes in parts during the winter.
Start your journey up in the northwest town of Bend and wind your way west toward Deschutes National Forest. Many people spend free time in Bend year-round for a vibrant downtown experience as well as outdoor recreation. Make sure to visit Drake Park for beautiful mountain views before heading toward Deschutes; a rode once used by early explorers. It’s now the perfect picturesque place to fish, raft, kayak, canoe, or even camp with a vast lava flow at the end.
From there, the byway heads due west, climbing up to Mount Bachelor. Stop and see two gorgeous waterfalls, Benham and Dillon. As you keep moving along, you will go through ski resorts and many impressive lakes like the one at Broken Top Mountain, where you can see inside a volcano. Now the byway turns to the south towards High Mountain Playground and the Devils lake with emerald water well worth a stop for an incredible swimming experience.
Keep heading south toward Lava Lake with a marina, camping, and even a charming resort. Choose this spot to stop for a scenic picnic lunch break. Continue south for more lakes along with excellent fishing areas and campsites. Stop in the Crane Prairie Reservoir for giant rainbow trout fishing. Do not pass up the Wickiup Reservoir, now dried up with places to camp around the tree stumps.
What makes this byway, so scenic is the massive quantity of lakes, volcanos, and glacial landscapes. Find sights you will not see anywhere else, including pumice, ash, caves, domes, and so much more. As the trail only takes a few hours, you can make a day of it or even a week, stopping along the way. End your adventure near another lake, the Crescent lake, perfect for a day outdoors.
While many outdoor enthusiasts will love this byway, so will those with less interest outside the car can still enjoy the epic views. Stop at the historic Elk Lake Guard station for a little history. The station was built in 1929 and served the guard before becoming a visitors center. Another interesting fact is the byway was paved with red volcanic cinders back in the 1950s, making for a unique driving experience.
If you want to get some shopping, check out the factory outlet mall in Bend. Otherwise, this area is known for camping, hiking, fishing, and scenery, not for great restaurants or shopping, so pack a picnic lunch or stop at a resort for a meal.
More Oregon Byways
You can check out additional Byways in Oregon by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Oregon Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.