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Outback Scenic Byway

Basics
Location:
South-central Oregon along the eastern border of Deschutes National Forest
Surface:
Paved
Length:
170 miles (273 km)
Time:
Four hours to drive this Byway.
Season:
Drivable year round
Fees:
There are no fees along the Byway proper.

Description

The Outback Scenic Byway travels a part of America where people are still closely linked with the land. Nature is wild and beautiful here, filled with prairies, volcanic craters, and hedged by the Deschutes National Forest.

The Outback Scenic Byway starts in La Pine, 30 miles south from Bend. From La Pine, take HWY 31 south until the route turns into I-395. Continue on I-395 until the end of the byway at the Oregon/California border.

Human and natural history reflect one another in this region. Homestead Village, a living history museum near the unique formation of Fort Rock, is the best place to get a feel for simple life and local history. Hole in the Ground, a volcanic explosion crater, is a fun place to visit and explore. There are also lava flows and caves, and the nation's largest flow of obsidian and cinder cones. The classic stop along the byway is Old Perpetual, Oregon's only geyser which shoots hot water sixty feet into the air every ninety seconds.

Tourism Resources

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

Abert Rim (OR)

Abert Rim is the largest geological fault in North America. Abert Rim towers 2,500 feet above the valley floor in the Great Basin country of Eastern Oregon's high desert. Abert Lake, one of the world's few remaining inland seas, is at the northernmost base of the rim.

Directions

Along U.S. 395 about 30 miles north of Lakeview.

Deschutes National Forest (OR)

The Deschutes National Forest is a recreational haven, pure and simple: these 1.8 million acres include five wilderness areas (200,000 acres), six cool rivers, 157 lakes and reservoirs, approximately 1,400 miles of trails, and the unique landscape of Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Popular activities in the national forest include hiking,fishing, rafting, kayaking, canoeing and camping. Other popular activities are mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, especially in the winter when the road closes due to snow.

Fort Rock (OR)

About 27 miles east of US Route 97, the forest abruptly gives way to vast sagebrush plains reminiscent of the Australian Outback.Like Australia's Ayer Rock, Oregon's Outback also has a mysterious rock formation that emerges from out of nowhere. Fort Rock is the remains of a volcano that looks like a giant citadel rising 325feet above the plain. Fort Rock was formed by super heated basalt magma roaring up through ground water as a boiling mud volcano,then cooling. It was formed some 5 to 6 million years ago. The ring of material left behind, called a maar, is the remains of this explosive event. Fort Rock Homestead Village features a living history museum in the summer. The museum is a showcase of what life was like for early settlers. Also found here are stories of courageous men and women who fought the cruel natural elements such as: drought, unseasonable frost and jackrabbits.

Directions

From Oregon Route 31, Fort Rock State Monument is about seven miles away.

Fossil Lake (OR)

Ten thousand years ago, flamingoes, camels, mammoths, and other post-Ice Age animals roamed the shores of a huge lake that covered the entire Fort Rock/Christmas Valley basin. Fossil Lake is a dry 6,550 acre area that is a remnant of the much larger Pleistocene lake. Prehistoric fossils can be viewed on the surrounding. The fossils are considered rare because they are from small mammals not normally found in such volume and variety. The fossils are from 10,000 to 2 million years old. The bones, teeth and shells present are from mammoths, sloths, camels, flamingos, pelicans, salmon, snails, small birds and even chipmunks.

Today, Fossil Lake is recognized as one of the most significant sites in North America for Pleistocene age fossils. Many ancient animals were first discovered and named from specimens collected at Fossil Lake in the early 1900s. Although the area is fenced off and closed to OHV's, you are welcome to walk through the area and observe fossils. Please remember that federal law prohibits the collection of vertebrate fossils without a permit.

Directions

Wilderness Study Area

Fremont National Forest (OR)

Discover butterflies, wildflowers, and birds in a rustic setting, and test your will against Oregon's Outback in the Fremont Forest.

Fremont Point (OR)

Fremont Point is a historic 90-foot fire watch tower (lookout)and rental cabin built in the early 1930s. This point is named after explorer John C. Fremont who came upon the ridge in 1843 and wrote of the experience:

Directions

Silver Lake on Winter Ridge.

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (OR)

The 275,000-acre Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge was established in 1936 to provide spring, summer and fall range for remnant antelope herds. These herds usually winter in Catlow Valley, to the east, and on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge about 35 miles southeast in Nevada. Since then, the purpose of the refuge has been expanded to include management of all wildlife species characteristic of this high-desert habitat, and to preserve natural, native ecosystems for the enjoyment, education and appreciation of the public.

Directions

65 miles northeast of Lakeview. County roads from U.S. Hwy 395 and Oregon Hwy 140.

Hole-in-the Ground (OR)

This was created from a series of explosions. This happened when rising basaltic magma came into contact with abundant ground water, and rose along the fault line that was exposed in the crater walls. After the initial explosion, repeated slumping along a ring fault led to the closures of the vent, changes in the ground water, and the repeated pressured buildup. Looking at the layering visible in the rim records this pulsing of the eruption.

Homestead Village Museum (OR)

The purpose of a village museum is to preserve some of the homestead era structures by moving them from original locations to the museum site, just west of the town of Fort Rock. The Webster Cabin and Dr. Thom's Office were the two building which were in place for the opening in 1988. Since that time, several homes and a church have been moved to the village, as well as pieces of equipment.

As this is an ongoing project, more structures and other pieces will be moved in the future. The moving of the buildings has been accomplished by volunteers from the community, Lake County Road Department and Midstate Electric Cooperative. Restoration has been done by a few local members. The Fort Rock Valley Historical Society was formed as a non-profit organization in Fort Rock, Oregon, on Feb. 15, 1984 by eight people interested in preserving the history of the homestead era. The museum, known as the Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum, was opened Memorial Day weekend in 1988.

Directions

Fort Rock, Oregon.

Old Perpetual (OR)

Just one and a half miles north of Lakeview is Old Perpetual Geyser which erupts 60 feet into the air about every 90 seconds.The site of this geothermal wonder erupting like a rocket into the sky is magnificent. It is the only active geyser in the west, and one of the more popular tourist attractions in Lakeview.

Directions

A mile north of Lakeview on a resort.

Details

Location:
South-central Oregon along the eastern border of Deschutes National Forest
Surface:
Paved
Length:
170 miles (273 km)
Time:
Four hours to drive this Byway.
Main Roads:
OR-31 S
Season:
Drivable year round
Fees:
There are no fees along the Byway proper.

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


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