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Lava River National Recreation Trail

Dee Wright Observatory

Central Oregon, Oregon

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Lava River National Recreation Trail

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  • Welcome to the Dee Wright Observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Looking south to the North Sister (10,085') and Middle Sister (10,047') from the Dee Wright Observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Looking north to Mount Washington (left, 7,795') and Mount Jefferson (right, 10,495') from the Dee Wright Observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • View from the parking lot.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Stairs leading to the top of the observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Looking south to the North Sister (10,085') and Middle Sister (10,047') from the top of Dee Wright Observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • The observatory has viewing portals directed at specific features.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • The "two islands" of earth were untouched by the lava flow.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • The bronze "peak finder" at the top of the observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Mount Jefferson (10,495').- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Mount Washington (7,795').- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • The Dee Wright Observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Trailhead for the Lava River Trail.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Insects and fire destroyed this forrest, and it is now a ghostly image of its former self.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • The Dee Wright Observatory sits at the border of the Deshutes and Willamette forests.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • A persistant and scrappy unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • A bench along the Lava River Trail.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • The trail leads through enormous lava rock formations.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa).- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • The Dee Wright Observatory from below.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • A small meadow where the lava stopped.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • The Lava River Trail at the Dee Wright Observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
  • Restrooms at the Dee Wright Observatory.- Lava River National Recreation Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Amazing panoramic views. Historic landmark.
Cons: 
Crowds. Long drive.
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Region:
Central Oregon, OR
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
125.00 ft (38.10 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
0.65 mi (1.05 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,160.00 ft (1,572.77 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Following an 1860 wagon trail, the McKenzie Pass sits at 5,325 feet and cuts through a 65-square-mile lava bed. During the Great Depression, an observatory was built from the lava rock as part of a 1935 Civilian Conservation Corps project. The Dee Wright Observatory was named from a worker who had died during it's construction.

The Dee Wright Observatory provides majestic, panoramic views of 17 different mountain peaks and two craters. Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, North Sister and Middle Sister, and Black Butte are the most visible features, while views to other peaks depend on clarity of the sky. On the top you will find a bronze compass-like "peak finder" that denotes the directions and distances to the various mountain peaks. Inside the observatory, you can look through dedicated portals in the walls that are directed toward the individual mountains.

The observatory is a trailhead for a short and informative paved walk through the lava beds. Along this route you'll find many interpretive signs that denote significant geological structures and the rich natural history of the area. The observatory has good parking and clean restrooms. 

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(55 within a 30 mile radius)

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(144 within a 30 mile radius)

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