Travel Tips & Adventures

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Travel to Superb Scenery at Mt. Bachelor and the Cascades

One of the major attractions in Central Oregon for those who want fabulous scenery is Mt. Bachelor and the Cascades Lakes National Scenic Byway.  And, if you ski, during the season, Mt. Bachelor is a very popular location.

Mt. Bachelor

Mt. Bachelor with ski lifts

Mt. Bachelor with ski lifts (not taken during the ski season)

Mt. Bachelor is a mecca for skiers in the winter months.  They have 11 chair lifts and charge $58 (at least that’s what’s posted for the previous ski season) for a daily lift ticket.  The mountain dominates the area and certainly provides a great place for skiing.  There are excellent amenities with very luxurious restrooms, including changing rooms. 

We took a look around, but while we were there was between seasons – too late for the summer scenic lift rides, and too early for the winter skiing. Things were closed.

So, on to the Cascades Lakes National Scenic Byway…

Taking the smaller loop of the Byway – Route 372 to the cutoff at Route 40 back to Sunriver, Oregon, a drive with several stops along the way to appreciate the scenery can take at least 3-4 hours.  Stopping at several of the lakes and enjoying the peace was a side benefit.  There just were not that many people exploring the area. During the winter, the road can be gated and not passable. There are many lakes to see in this area dominated by volcanic rock and pine trees.

At one location, we stepped out for a short hike , but decided the almost vertical climb was not really in our agenda.  We hadn’t brought water! – A cardinal sin for hikers – The hiker we saw was well-prepared, but we hadn’t expected to do more than a short stop for photography.

One of the most picture-postcard worthy stops was at Sparks Lake.  What seemed like a very long drive back to the lake off the main road gave us a delightful encounter with two sisters and a husband  traveling from Ohio.  

A Sisters Mountain reflected in Sparks Lake

A "Sisters" Mountain (there are 3) reflected in Sparks Lake

Note that whenever you leave the main road to follow the park road back to a trail or lake, the parking lot you reach will just then notify you that you need to pay a day use fee.  We would have liked to know sooner.  

Most of the lakes have no real amenities, but Elk Lake has a small marina with a restaurant and lodge.

Elk Lake Marina with view

Elk Lake Marina with view

We did not stop at the restaurant, but the menu seemed to be burgers and simple foods.  The Cascades Lakes National Scenic Byway takes longer than people think to drive, especially with stops- so the Elk Lake amenities are much welcomed.  The restaurant, called “Boondocks,” showed Oregon’s prevalent sense of humor.  


Be prepared to stop often because the views really are scenic and worth taking a few moments at least.  Bringing a picnic lunch might be a great strategy.  You will definitely see many pine trees.  

Devils Lake

Devil's Lake

Since we had many more stops to make, we chose the Route 40 shortcut back to Sunriver and ended our exploration after only a morning.  So much to see and so little time!

Love to look at some of these images all of the time?  Hit the “Shop” button above – you can purchase your own mousepad with Elk Lake  and Sparks Lake in our store.

Tomorrow: Come back tomorrow for a ride on the Alaskan Railroad.   Friday we’ll come back to Oregon for another visit to brewpubs.

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