The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) today announced they are starting to close the Old McKenzie Pass Highway, OR 242, for the winter season.
They did emphasize that only the west side will be closing at this time.
A press release dated 10/27/23 states “On the morning of Monday, Oct. 30, crews will close the highway from the western gate at OR 126 to top of the pass at Dee Wright Observatory.
The east side of the highway from the observatory to Sisters will remain open until weather becomes too severe or until Nov. 9, whichever comes first. Weather on each side of the pass varies, and it’s not uncommon to close or open each side of the highway separately.
McKenzie Pass is a secondary, scenic highway. Weather, costs and logistics make it impractical to maintain for travel year-round. In the winter, we focus our staff and resources on main highways to keep them plowed, open and safe.
When the highway is closed, it is closed to all users and is not maintained. Travelers going past locked gates and closure signs could encounter hazards and working equipment on the road, and there are no services or cell coverage.”
Every year, McKenzie Pass opens and closes with the seasons. Dates vary depending on road and weather conditions.
McKenzie Pass became a seasonal scenic highway in 1962 with the completion of the Clear Lake-Belknap Springs section of Oregon 126.
Even during its time as the main route between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon, the narrow, twisting roadway and high elevation (5,325 feet) made the highway too difficult to maintain and keep clear during the winter months.”
To see what routes are open over the mountains, and to view current road and weather conditions visit TripCheck.com or call 511.
More information on McKenzie Pass, OR 242, can be found on their website.
Important information for opening of OR 242 next year:
As a part of a federal grant, the east side of McKenzie Pass will be repaved in 2024. The timing of paving will depend on the weather, and crews will start as soon as they are able. This will mean that the west side of the highway is completely inaccessible until the paving is complete.
ODOT asks that travelers do not attempt to enter the construction zone next year while the highway is being repaved.
They add, “This can be dangerous for you and the crews and could also extend the time it takes to complete the work. We are looking forward to making this route smoother and safer for everyone.”
For more information, contact Kacey Davey, 541-280-2716