Central Oregon Tourism: Dee Wright Observatory

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Dee Wright Observatory

The Dee Wright Observatory, a historical rock structure located about 40 miles west of Bend at McKenzie Pass, allows visitors to view and identify various volcanic peaks in the Cascade Mountains.

  • Located about 40 miles west of Bend on Hwy 242 at the summit of McKenzie Pass.
  • Built in 1935 during the Great Depression by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
  • An interpretive trail provides visitors with local history and geological information.
  • Visitors can view and identify numerous volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range.


About 40 miles west of Bend, at the summit of McKenzie Pass, is a lava rock structure that was built during the Great Depression. Completed in 1935, the Dee Wright Observatory has several “lava tube” viewing windows. Visitors can view various mountains in the Cascade Range, and identify them via a bronze peak finder located above the windows. A half mile paved interpretive trail located just outside the observatory provides geological information and a history of the area as it passes through lava flows. The Dee Wright Observatory attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Location and Directions

Dee Wright Observatory, Oregon, is located approximately 40 miles west of Bend at the McKenzie Pass summit on Hwy 242.


July through October is the only time you can access the observatory via car, as Hwy 242 is closed from November until early July due to snow.


There are no fees.

More Info

  • The observatory was built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was named after Dee Wright, the foreman of the construction crew. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps for 24 years and died in 1934.
  • Peaks that can be viewed from the observatory include Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Black Butte, Black Crater, Cache Mountain, Condon Butte, Bluegrass Butte, Dugout Butte, Horsepasture Mountain, Little Brother, Little Belknap, Bald Peter, Belknap Crater, South Belknap Cone, The Husband, and Scott Mountain. More distant peaks, including Mt. Hood, can also be seen when the weather permits.
  • The trail that leads up to the observatory, as well as a nearby restroom, is wheelchair accessible.