As with all excursions to the outdoors, be sure you check conditions first and in this case, road conditions. Many of these byways and routes are closed in the winter.
Did we miss one of your favorite scenic drives? Let us know in the comments below!
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway – Deschutes National Forest
Distance: 87 miles
Duration: 3 - 5 hours
Beginning and ending just outside of Bend, Oregon, the Cascades Lake Scenic Byway travels along the Deschutes River and through glacial and volcanic formations. Highlights include Mt. Bachelor, Lava Lake and Elk Lake.
McKenzie-Santiam Scenic Byway – Deschutes National Forest
Distance: 82 miles
Duration: 3-5 hours
Starting in Sisters, Oregon, enjoy this loop around Mount Washington as you drive through McKenzie Pass and Santiam Pass. Along the way enjoy many waterfalls, a rugged volcanic landscape and countless recreation opportunities.
Mt. Hood Scenic Byway – Mt. Hood National Forest
Distance: 80 miles
Duration: 2 - 4 hours
Head east from Portland for this trip to see Oregon’s highest point – Mt. Hood. The drive offers plenty of opportunities for exploring: have a picnic in the Wildwood Recreation Area, go for a hike on the Mt. Hood National Forest and take in history at the Timberline Lodge. You’ll ascend to Bennett Pass with an elevation of 4,674 feet before descending to drive along the Hood River.
Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway – Umpqua National Forest, Rogue River-Sikiyou National Forest
Distance: 199 miles
Duration: 5-7 hours
Also known as the “highway of waterfalls” this scenic byway follows two legendary Oregon rivers: the North Umpqua and Upper Rogue River. You’ll probably see a few fly fishermen as the North Umpqua is known worldwide for the run of summer steelhead. Along the way be sure to stop at one of the 15 waterfalls and several lakes.
West Cascades Scenic Byway – Mt. Hood National Forest and Willamette National Forest
Distance: 198 miles
Duration: 7-9 hours
Take a drive through the Cascades and stop along the way at the many places to play. This byway follows four rivers and features three National Recreation Trails as well as access to hundreds of miles of other trails.
Mount Adams Drive – Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Distance: 62 miles
Duration: 3 hours
If you’re up for an adventure, while you drive, the Mount Adams Drive is for you. Winding through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to Mt. Adams, the drive includes both paved and unpaved roads offering you a truly rustic experience. You’ll pass through old-growth forests and see great views of this potentially active volcano.
Chinook Scenic Byway – Mount Rainer National Park and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Distance: 96 miles
Duration: 2-3 hours
For a scenic drive heading east from Seattle, take the Chinook Scenic Byway. Passing through Mount Rainer National Park and then the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, the byway features great views of Mount Rainer, White River Valley and dense forests.
Mountain Loop – Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest
Distance: 95 miles (depending on start location)
Duration: 3 hours
This loop offers an ideal route to explore Seattle’s backyard forest: the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie. The route includes both paved and gravel roads as you explore the rugged peaks and dense forests. Along the way, stop for a picnic or short hike to breathe in the mountain air.
White Pass Scenic Byway – Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Distance: 124 miles
Duration: 3 hours
The White Pass Scenic Byway can be a gateway for many adventures to National Forests, a National Park and a National Volcanic Monument. The byway passes through small communities, river valleys, alpine landscapes and more.
Did this blog get your adrenaline going for some National Forest adventure experiences? We hope so! Your support is crucial to ensuring the National Forest Foundation can complete dozens of projects each year that keep the adventure coming. Please click here to make a much-needed unrestricted gift today. And, happy (safe) adventuring!