Scenic Old McKenzie Hwy. closed for winter
November 2, 2023 | View PDF
White-topped ridges and falling leaves are indicators the seasons are changing. Another is the annual closing of the Old McKenzie Pass Highway, OR 242.
On Monday morning, October 30th, Oregon Dept. Of Transportation, crews closed the highway from the western snow gate to the top of the pass at Dee Wright Observatory.
The east side of the highway from the observatory to Sisters will remain open until the weather becomes too severe - or until November 9th, whichever comes first, according to Kacey Davey with ODOT’s Bend office.
Weather on each side of the pass varies, and it’s not uncommon to close or open each side of the highway separately, Davey noted.
Officials say weather, costs, and logistics make it impractical to maintain the scenic route for travel year-round. In the winter, crews focus on the region’s main highways to keep them plowed, open, and safe.
When the Hwy. 242 is closed, it is closed to all users and is not maintained. ODOT warns travelers that going past locked gates and closure signs means people could encounter hazards and working equipment on the road, in areas where there are no services or cell coverage.
Every year, McKenzie Pass opens and closes with the seasons. Dates vary depending on road and weather conditions.
McKenzie Pass became a seasonal scenic highway in 1962 with the completion of the Clear Lake-Belknap Springs section of Oregon 126. Even during its time as the main route between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon, the narrow, twisting roadway and high elevation (5,325 feet) made the highway too difficult to maintain and keep clear during the winter months.
To see what routes are open over the mountains, and to view current road and weather conditions visit TripCheck.com or call 511.