Make the McKenzie Connection!

Hwy 242 to reopen

The Old McKenzie Pass will opens to motorists on June 16

Rotary snow plowThe McKenzie Pass Highway (OR 242) will officially open to all traffic on Sunday, June 16th, at 9 a.m.. The highway has been closed due to winter snows since November 13th.

The opening on June 16 is well over one month ahead of the latest ever, which occurred on July 29, 1999.

Motorists driving the curvy road need to be aware of bicyclists and pedestrians on the roadway - and take proper precautions. Vehicles longer than 35 feet are prohibited from using the highway.

The first route over the McKenzie Pass, known as Craig's McKenzie Salt Springs/Deschutes Wagon Road, was completed in 1872. This toll road connected the Willamette Valley with Camp Polk, near what is now Sisters. The charge was $2 for a wagon drawn by two horses, $2.50 for a wagon with four horses, $1 for a man on a horse and 10 cents each for loose cattle and horses.

Modern construction techniques allowed crews to rebuild the road in the 1920s. At that time, the McKenzie Pass Highway was constructe and the former wagon route was abandoned, except in places where the new highway follows the same path.

In 1936 the Clear Lake-Belknap Springs section of OR 126 was completed, giving motorists a new, straighter, year-round alternative for travel between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon.

The McKenzie Pass Highway became a seasonal scenic highway in 1962 with the completion of the Clear Lake Cutoff section of OR 126. Even during its tenure as the main route between the southern Willamette Valley and Central Oregon, the narrow, twisting roadway and high elevation (5,325 feet) made the route too difficult to maintain and keep clear during the winter months.


McKenzie River Reflections


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