A relatively average late winter and early spring, allowed state highway managers to open the scenic McKenzie pass to vehicle traffic Thursday morning. The highway has been closed since mid-November and opens roughly on schedule, but more than a month earlier than its latest opening in 1999 when crews didn’t get the road open until late July.
The opening of the road signals the end of a brief honeymoon for road bikers who typically enjoy a few weeks of car-free traffic on the road before it is formally opened to vehicles.
However, cyclists continue to navigate the winding route throughout the summer and motorists should remember to check their speed and use caution on the narrow road. If you’re a local and have never been over the McKenzie, it’s definitely worth a Sunday driver. In addition to several great waterfall hikes, the Dee Wight Observatory on the Summit offers a great vantage point of the Cascade Range and the expansive lava flow. After you drop onto the wet side, loop back on Hwy 126 where you can catch Sahalie and Koosah falls on the McKenzie River.