The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is considered an "All-American Road" and is the ultimate national designation for a driving tour.
1. Starting with a Bang
Geologically, our volcanic legacy began several thousand years ago.
Geographically, the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway begins at Diamond Lake Junction, halfway between Bend and Klamath Falls on U. S. Route 97.
Here, Oregon Route 138 climbs as straight as a ponderosa pine to the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park. Because of snow, this entrance is usually only open from June through October.
2. Captivating Crater Lake
The road ascends through a pumice moonscape created by the massive eruption of Mt. Mazama about 7,700 years ago. The eruption left a six-mile-wide caldera, which now cradles the deepest lake in the U.S. The lake’s vast depth and world-record clarity give it a remarkable blueness that is one of the most awe-inspiring natural sights in the world. The 33-mile Cleetwood Trail, a side trip to the Pinnacles near the south rim, and breathtaking views in all directions.
The Rim Village Visitors Center is open all year, making a great starting point for wintertime cross-country skiing and snowshoeing adventures. In summer and fall, enjoy the views and accommodations at historic Crater Lake Lodge.
3. Fort Klamath
Exit the park through the south entrance and turn left on Oregon Route 62. The ”Crater Lake Highway” follows Annie Creek through peaceful pastures to Fort Klamath. In summer, the museum here details the antagonism between settlers and Native Americans, which culminated in the Modoc War of 1872-73.
4. The Call of the Wildlife
The tour continues on Weed Road to Sevenmile Road west, then follows West Side Road through the Winema National Forest. You’ll pass Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and Upper Klamath Lake. Covering 133 square miles, the lake is Oregon’s largest body of fresh water, filling a basin created when the earth’s crust dropped along fault lines on both sides.
Situated in the heart of the Pacific Flyway, the area sustains over 430 species of resident and migratory birds, including bald eagles, sandhill cranes and pelicans. Several campgrounds and resorts with marinas invite you to relax, canoe, fish or golf in the shadow of the Southern Oregon Cascades.
West Side Road connects with Oregon Route 140 at Rocky Point. Howard Bay is a common place to see nesting pelicans, blue herons and snow geese. The southern half of the lake is home to bald eagles all year round.
5. Klamath Falls
The Byway continues south as Oregon Route 140 meets U. S. Route 97 two miles south of downtown Klamath Falls. Take a trip into town to visit the historic Baldwin Hotel Museum and the Favell Museum’s impressive collection of Indian artifacts. Then head south again on U. S. Route 97.
6. Final Refuges
After passing through crop land along the Klamath River, you’ll travel by the Klamath Wildlife Area and the Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge. This segment of the Byway ends at the Francis S. Landrum Historic Wayside, which commemorates the Applegate Emigrant Trail, the southern arm of the Oregon Trail.