Oregonians have always loved finding ways to take in the surrounding mountain views. Like Dee Wright Observatory for example. This old stone lookout was built during the Great Depression over 80 years ago and still impresses visitors today with its up-close views of Cascade peaks like Mount Washington, Mount Jefferson, and The Sisters (and their Little Brother).
The mountain observatory is located along McKenzie Highway (Route 242) at 5,187 feet in elevation. There’s a small parking area just across from the observatory where you can pull off to stop. Here is a map of the observatory.
It was built by a Civilian Conservation Corps crew during the Great Depression. Using lava stone they found on-site, the crewmen built this observatory with viewing holes strategically placed to frame the surrounding peaks.
You can also continue up the stairs to the roof. From the top you’ll get sweeping views of the mountains and surrounding landscape.
The views are seemingly endless between: Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, North Sister, Middle Sister, Belknap Crater, Black Butte, and on a clear day, Mount Hood to the far north.
You’ll also find this huge Peak Finder in the center of the roof. The old bronze sculpture points out the geological features and surrounding peaks in all directions.
There’s also a paved Lava River Interpretive Trail that kicks off from here. It follows through old lava formations for a half-mile, taking about 30 minutes (or longer if you’re looking to get lots of photos).
It’s a unique blend of Oregon scenery and history. Also keep an eye out for the many interpretative signs that offer more info on the area’s early travelers and geology.
For a closer look, check out this amazing footage from McKenzie River Drone Photography (and make sure to set the quality to 1080p HD):
The views from here are just incredible. Have you been to this observatory before? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.