Cycling Central Oregon's Scenic Bikeways

McKenzie Pass Bikeway Car Free (For Now)

15 min read

For about a month each year while the snow slowly melts, cyclists in Central Oregon get to ignore the giant “ROAD CLOSED” sign on historic McKenzie Pass.

They get to bypass the gate and pedal carefree up the scenic bikeway without worrying about cars speeding down the road alongside them.

For a brief time they get the road to themselves and it’s a journey worth taking. (The department of transportation plans to re-open the road to cars in mid-June.)

Cyclist on the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway near Bend, Oregon
Cyclist on the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway – Photo Credit: Aaron Theisen

This challenging 37-mile route starts in Sisters and winds through deep forests, climbing to a volcanic lava-rock moonscape summit. This is likely the most interesting and beautiful scenery you’ll ever get on a bike ride. Stop at the Dee Wright Observatory, built from lava rock, and take in spectacular views of the Three Sisters mountains. The road is on the U.S. Registry of Historic Places and you’ll quickly see why just a few miles into your trip. A visit to the Belknap Hot Springs is just what the doctor ordered to pump some life back into those legs for the ride back to town.

It’s just one of the state’s unique scenic bikeways in Central Oregon.

Ted Taylor
Ted Taylor
Ted Taylor manages COVA's digital content, media relations, PR and social media. He's an award-winning reporter and editor who has worked in newspaper and televisions newsrooms in Nebraska, Colorado, Arkansas and Oregon. A former assistant golf professional, Ted still loves to sneak in a quick 9, but you're more likely these days to find him on the mountain bike trails when he's not spending time with his family. He's called Bend home for 17 years.