On our way to Diamond Lake campground from our hike to Proxy Falls, we made a quick stop at Dee Wright Observatory, located about 25 minutes of driving from Proxy Falls on McKenzie Highway (Oregon 242).
The unique feature of this place is the moon like surface of 65 square miles of black lava rocks on which a few pine trees could grow over thousands of years when the lava flow erupted from Yapoah Cone; this flow overlaps an earlier flow from the Little Belknap Crater. As the surface is similar to the Moon, in 1964, NASA conducted drills with astronauts as they prepared to travel to the moon (source). You can see how impressive it is from our Drone footage above!
Standing from the observatory, you can easily see several mountains: Mt. Hood located a whopping 78.5 miles to the north, and Three Sisters mountains.
The observatory was finished in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and was named in memory of Dee Wright, the crew’s foreman who passed away the year before. The structure is an open shelter constructed with lava stone. It is located in the midst of a large lava flow, and offers an exceptional view of numerous Cascade peaks.
- The road to this place is narrow and curvy
- Watch out for pedestrians and bicycles
- Oregon 242 can be closed in the winter
- The closest towns are McKenzie Bridge, OR (west) and Sisters, OR (east) so be careful of empty gas tank when you travel to here.