Outback Scenic Byway

State: Oregon
Length: 170 miles / 273.6 km
Time to Allow: Expect 3 to 4 hours to experience all this Byway has to offer.

The Outback Scenic Byway measures 171 miles long, taking just four to six hours to enjoy. While the byway starts in west-central Oregon, it heads south towards California. Choose this byway if you want natural ruggedness for a unique form of beauty with a touch of wildness. If you are looking for solitude in wide-open spaces, this is quite possibly the right choice for you.

While this byway does not include dense forests, it offers desert areas instead often not seen in states with ocean access. The byway starts in La Pine, Oregon, and extends down toward the northeastern corner of California, with impressive views and lakes along the way. Find out where Oregon employs their agriculture and timber while empowering freedom.

Starting in the north in La Pine, find desert terrain by Fort Rock. It’s an old volcanic crater with evidence of life dating back thousands of years. Check out the cave while there, a favorite of archaeologists. Right in La Pine, you can plan a day trip, go boating, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, hunting, and camping. In the summer go swimming in the lake or go snowmobiling in the winter.

For more outdoor attractions, visit Silver Lake or Summer Lake for beautiful views of various birds, including eagles and herons. Also, check out petroglyphs in the rocks near Picture Rock Pass while viewing mountains almost a hundred miles away. This is the area for bird watchers as it houses the Summer Lake Wildlife area before turning into hunting season in the fall.

Follow the Chewaucan River for quality fishing and even a local hot springs. In the town of Paisley, find arid desert, a pioneer saloon, and the summer lake hot springs perfect for a break from life. The city offers multiple hotels and some mom-and-pop restaurants perfect for a delicious local meal. If that were not enough to entice a visit, the area features the Valley Falls and the Abert Rim and Lake. It’s the only saltwater lake in the United States and even boasts lava flooring.

Plan to visit Oregon’s Tallest Town Lakeview, which sits 4,800 feet above sea level. The town offers a unique antelope refuge, skiing, and a hot spring with a geyser. Find budget hotels nearby or stay at several options right at the hot springs. The geyser erupts about every minute and a half, with water streaming up 50 feet into the air between October and May. Enjoy camping at the local Goose Lake State Recreation Area before going over the border into California.

Find a few more treasures in the region, including volcanic formations such as Hole-in-the-Ground, Devil’s Garden, The Blowouts, and Derrick Cave. While you can simply enjoy the scenery during a drive in a day, it’s a beautiful area worthy of appreciation and a great destination for vacationers too. People looking for a mini holiday from Idaho, Nevada, or California can easily drive to the byway for a short trip.

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.