Monday, August 17, 2015

usbackroads destination--Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway, Deschutes National Forest


usbackroads destination--Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway, Deschutes National Forest

Trip Dates:  June 16-18, 2015

I was the Recreation, Wilderness, and Trails Program Manager for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest prior to my retirement in 2007.  We were one of the big recreation forests in  Washington.  The Regional Office would always play us against the Deschutes National Forest which was the largest recreation forest in Oregon.  So after a few years of that, myself and my compatriot on the Deschutes National Forest decided to spend a week on each others Forest so we would have a better understanding of the recreation program on the two National Forests.

Now you probably will not get a week long guided tour of the recreation, wilderness, and trail opportunities on the Deschutes National Forest.  But go anyway, it is an amazing National Forest.  Lots of snow-capped peaks, lakes, trails, campgrounds, and interpretive sites.  AND of of this on a National Forest that is mostly flat ground!! A treat for those of us pushing the years or those with small children.



The heart of all this is the Cascades lakes Scenic Byway which stretches from Bend to Highway 128 just outside of Crescent Lake, Oregon.




At the Bend end of the Scenic Byway is Sparks Lake.  A very scenic and busy lake.  We were there on a weekday in summer and it was packed.  Weekends must be a total zoo.  Everybody seemed to get along rather well,  But for me fly fishing off a boat launch with canoes and kayaks coming on and off the water every few minutes is not that appealing.


But my favorite set of canoeists were a couple of grandparents paddling on the the lake.  The I noticed that at the end of the canoe they were "towing" a small child.  So where is Health and Human Services when you need them??  Click on picture to enlarge.


Here is a link to the entire route:  http://www.visitbend.com/cascade-lakes-byway-map.pdf

The route is just as scenic as Crater Lake National Park but much flatter and many more places to explore.  It is popular with bicycle riders since it does have a wider shoulder than Crater Lake National Park.

There are a lot of lakes to explore.  Most of which are much less crowded than Sparks Lake.


The good news is that all of them come with boat docks, campgrounds, resort stores with food and boat rentals.



The campgrounds are popular with all sorts of folks.  So a typical campground will have fishermen, boaters, bicyclists, kayakers, bird watchers, and even some rest and relaxation folks.


All the new recreation fads show up fairly quickly on the Deschutes!  First you unload the surfboard from LA.


Then kneeling on it for several minutes and noticing that there is NO wave to ride.


So you just stand up and paddle.  Handy if you own a surfboard, but not a kayak or canoe or any type of boat.  Ok, maybe I should try it ONCE, before jumping to conclusions.


Throughout all these lakes flows the Deschutes River.



The dispersed camping or boondocking is primarily found along the river.  Lots of places to camp if you do not like campgrounds.  The only downside is that outside is once off the paved and gravel roads there is DUST!  Lots of it.  Be sure to turn on the air conditioning and make sure it is on recirculate.  I have never been on one of these roads after a rain, but I think I would like to have tires with some tread on them.


At the headwaters of the Deschutes River there seems to always be a colony of white pelicans.  This is the only place on a National Forest where I have seen white pelicans.  Must be something here to attract them year after year.



The Cascades Lakes Scenic Byways ends rather quickly.  Given all the stop signs I suspect there was a lawsuit somewhere about "inadequate" signing.  These are just the signs saying that there is a  STOP SIGN AHEAD!  Now it just becomes a funny picture!


You might not remember the stop signs, but you will have the memories of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.  A special spot on your National Forests, but sure to spend some time here to justify all the recreation funding the Forest Service sent to the Deschutes National Forest!


As always, double click on the picture to see it full-screen.