A trip up to the Dee Wright is a required trek for all my guests who visit Oregon. If you want to experience the power and beauty of the planet, the Old McKenzie Highway delivers an eyeful. Starting in Ponderosa Pine forests and climbing to 5,300 feet above sea level, the road wages a mighty battle to deliver travelers to the top.
The structure at the pass is built out of lava from the surrounding flow and towers above the old wagon road that is now Route 242. The road is closed in winter, but it's a busy corridor during the summer tourist season. The observatory has windows which become frames for the famous peaks easily seen across the barren landscape. On the top deck you can easily see Mt. Hood to the north on a clear day. An interpretive trail gives visitors a great geology lesson on Cascade volcanology. It is a very harsh environment with the blistering heat of summer and the raging snow storms of winter. One can hardly imagine moving though this moonscape in a covered, ox-drawn wagon back when Oregon was just a territory. Nothing like it.