May 10, 2024

Discover the Cascade Lakes Highway

The Perfect Day Trip from Redmond, Oregon

Welcome to Redmond, where vibrant experiences await you.

Nestled in the heart of Central Oregon, Redmond is ideally positioned as a starting point for some of the most breathtaking day trips in the region. Among these, a journey along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway stands out as a must-do adventure. This stunning route offers access to a series of pristine alpine lakes, majestic mountain vistas, and a plethora of outdoor activities that make it a perfect escape for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Explore the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Starting just a short drive from Redmond, the Cascade Lakes Highway is a 66-mile loop that winds its way through the Deschutes National Forest, offering spectacular views of the Cascade Range and its volcanic landscapes. As you embark on this scenic drive, you’ll find more than a dozen alpine and subalpine lakes, each offering unique natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

Sparkling Waters and Leisure Activities

The journey along the Cascade Lakes Highway reveals a variety of stunning lakes such as Sparks Lake, Devil’s Lake, and Elk Lake. These crystal-clear waters are ideal for kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. Each lake has its own character and charm, from the quiet shores of Little Lava Lake to the bustling marina at Cultus Lake, providing ample opportunities for water sports enthusiasts.

Hiking and Biking Trails

For those who prefer to explore on land, the area is crisscrossed with trails suitable for all skill levels. The Todd Lake Loop is a family-friendly hike offering easy access and stunning lake views, ideal for a leisurely walk. More seasoned hikers might tackle the trails leading up to Mount Bachelor or the challenging South Sister Summit Trail, where the rewards include unparalleled vistas of the entire region.

Picnicking and Relaxation

Many of the lakes along the highway feature developed picnic areas, complete with tables and grilling stations. These spots provide perfect settings to enjoy a meal surrounded by nature. Imagine unpacking a picnic at the shore of Hosmer Lake, renowned for its vibrant watercolor and serene environment, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Photography and Wildlife Watching

The diverse ecosystems along the Cascade Lakes Highway are a haven for wildlife, including deer, beavers, and a wide array of bird species. Photographers will find endless inspiration in the landscape, from the reflective waters of Sparks Lake to the wildflower meadows surrounding Elk Lake. Dawn and dusk are particularly magical times for capturing the soft light and dynamic skies over the Cascades.

Planning Your Visit

When planning a day trip along the Cascade Lakes Highway, consider the following tips to enhance your experience:

  • Check Road Conditions: The highway is generally open from late May through October, but snow can linger into early summer. Always check current road conditions before heading out.
  • Most of the recreational areas in the Cascade Lakes region require a $5 Northwest Forest Pass or a $30 Annual Northwest Forest Pass
  • Respect the Environment: Practice Leave No Trace principles to help preserve the beauty and integrity of these natural areas for future generations.
  • Prepare for the Weather: Mountain weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers and bring sunscreen, plenty of water, and snacks.
  • Explore Responsibly: Stay on designated trails and roads, and be mindful of wildlife habitats.