In Bend, Oregon, the high desert begins to rise along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range. At an elevation 5,325 feet (1,623 m), McKinzie Pass on Oregon Route 242, is at the western boarder of Deschutes county, about 25 miles northwest of Bend. The pass cuts through between the Three Sisters to the south and Mount Washington to the north.
The Dee Wright Observatory is an open shelter built with basaltic andesite lava from the construction site. The structure features windows aligned with views of the surrounding Cascade peaks. Of course, there were numerous photography opportunities! The observatory was built during the Great Depression by a Civilian Conservation Corps crew at Camp Belknap near Clear Lake.
Oregon Route 242 follows the path of a 1860 wagon route, it emerges from the forest and crosses a 65 square-mile lava bed (170 m). The Cascades are part of the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire. All recent volcanic eruptions in the contiguous United States have been from Cascade volcanoes, including the famous 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.
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