Cascade Lakes Loop, Mackenzie Loop, Sisters and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon: USA 2017

Having left Crater Lake National Park very early we completed the East Rim drive, checking out the Phantom Ship overlook on our way.

Crater Lake, OR
Crater Lake Phantom Ship overlook.

From here we headed onto Highway 46 and the Cascades Lakes National Scenic Byway. This was a very picturesque drive with varying changes in landscape and large areas of lava rock.

Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway, OR
View from the Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway, OR.
Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway, OR
Our road, Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway, OR.

We drove through the Mount Bachelor ski resort – no snow then but it was forecast heavily for the coming weekend!

Mount Bachelor, OR
View of Mount Bachelor, OR.

Our plan was then to head around the Mackenzie Scenic Byway but the bottom section, Route 242, was closed due to forest fires. Never ones to give in (!), we just drove around the top three quarters and headed to Clear Lake and back to see the  3000 year old submerged forest at the bottom of the lake. It was too late in the day when we arrived, but if you have time you can take a paddle boat on the lake to see this in more detail. Instead we had a walk along the boat moorings where you could see down into the waters. This is a spring fed lake filtered through the lava – they are the clearest waters we’ve ever seen.

Clear Lake, Sisters, OR
View down into Clear Lake, OR.

We then headed to Sisters, a cowboy desert town, had a very tasty ice-cream then went down to the viewpoint on Highway 20 to view the Three Sisters mountains as the sun set.

Three Sisters, OR
View of the Three Sisters at sunset from the viewpoint on Highway 20.

The next morning we made a brief detour – following a chat with a local, to the Head of the Metolius River. Here the river emerges out of the ground – quite a novelty to actually see the start of a river! You can’t really get the impressiveness from the picture, it’s the idea that the water just emerges, creating the head of the river that’s impressive.

Metolius River, Sisters, OR
The Head of the Metolius River, Sisters, Bend, OR.

It was time then to head east towards the colorful rock formations of the John Day Fossil Beds, Painted Hills Unit. We did the Carroll Rim Trail, an easy 1.6 mile return trail with fantastic views.

John Day Fossil Beds, OR
Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds, OR

We then went on to do the Painted Cove Trail and the Painted Hills overlook trail. All gave very different and interesting views of this strange landscape. At times it reminded us of our visit to Badwater Basin in Death Valley.

John Day Fossil Beds, OR
Close up of the hills at the Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds, OR.
John Day Fossil Beds, OR
Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds, OR.
John Day Fossil Beds, OR
Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds, OR.

From here we started to head north to Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge crossing the…..

45th Parallel, OR
Crossing the 45th Parallel, OR.

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