Highway 242 is part of the well-known "McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway" route and it is a beloved summer-time bucket list ride. In past years, some cyclists and pedestrians have accessed Highway 242 prior to the road re-opening to cars in mid-June. This poses a significant risk to them and to road crews working to clear and repair pavement for summer traffic. Please note that when the road is closed, it is closed to everyone — that includes cyclists. This year the closure may be longer due to a major 2024 pavement project. The exciting news is that when the road re-opens, the highway will have portions of roadway that have been resurfaced along with refurbished bike lines, updated signage, bicycle parking and bathrooms at designated locations.

Follow updates to the McKenzie Highway Pavement Preservation project online and until the gates are opened, do not enter the highway.

McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway by Molly Blancett

Cycling McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway

What is this ride all about?

You've heard about it from friends— the challenge, the thrill, the accomplishment. It is a truly special ride, which is why it was granted official "scenic bikeway" status for its summertime route, i.e. the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway. From the town of Sisters, the road ascends 2,000 feet, tracing an old 1860s wagon route. During the early part of the summer season you’ll pedal through a corridor of snow embankments, past ancient lava fields and summit at Dee Wright Observatory, with unobstructed views of waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. A truly amazing experience!

From the summit to Highway 126, enjoy a stunning descent into lush old growth forests. After the long haul up, the downhill ride is a splendid treat. Reward yourself with a lodge room at Belknap Hot Springs. Rest your body with a soak in the mineral hot springs pools. The river view, the hot spring warmth and the surrounding forest will leave you relaxed, refreshed and ready for you next adventure.

Hwy 242 in snow, open for bikes by Cari Soong

HWY 242 in early summer

So when is Highway 242 open?

Highway 242 is a secondary, scenic road — not a main travel corridor. Weather conditions, logistics and cost make it impractical to maintain for travel year around. Therefore, the road is closed mid-November to mid-June. When closed, the road is not maintained and accessing it is done at your own risk. Highway 242 typically re-opens by the third Monday in June, barring any work delays and weather conditions. There is no official "just-cycling" access. 


Who clears Highway 242 and why?

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) clears this route as part of seasonal road maintenance designed for all access in late June. Road clearing is not done for the purpose of car-free cycling. Work includes promoting snowmelt with blowing and plowing for maintenance access, clearing rocks and debris, cutting trees, fixing potholes and repairing the road surface. Often there is only one narrow lane cleared through the snow as needed for work crews. ODOT posts signs and closes gates to support the closure for safety, and increase understanding that there are crews working on the road. Please do not put yourself, or the crews, at risk.

The west side of Highway 242 near McKenzie River has more trees, shade and late season storms; so it is often cleared later then the east section near Sisters. At times, gates on one side or the other may be open while the other side remains closed. Do not assume you will be able to drive all the way through just because one gate is open. A turn around may be necessary at the Dee Wright Observatory midpoint. 


How can I check the road status?

ODOT does not release updates for the purpose of cycling. When Highway 242 is closed by the gates to traffic, it is closed to all traffic — no exceptions. Check TripCheck.com and ODOT's McKenzie Highway webpage for road status and plans. And always closely monitor the weather.


May I still ride before it opens?

No. If you do, you do so at your own risk and against the instructions of ODOT. Riding the closed highway is dangerous. You may encounter tree limbs, rocks, unstable road conditions, snow and ice. The weather changes quickly and can vary dramatically, particularly in the shoulder season. Cyclists riding while crews are on the roads pose a hazard for everyone. Never ride when crews are working, typically Monday through Friday. It is also important to note that there are no services to this road during its closure and there is no cell phone service in this vicinity.


Any riding tips for when it is open?

When planning a bike ride, let someone know your itinerary. Pack along emergency supplies, plenty of water, a first aid kit and bike repair kit. Work up to long rides just as you would train for a marathon. And make sure your gear is in top shape and weather versatile. And of course, don't forget to have a great time and enjoy the ride!

Where to Ride