The Oregon Department of Transportation announced Friday it is closing the west side of the Old McKenzie Pass Highway (Oregon 242) for the season as the snow starts to move in.
Crews will close the highway on Monday from the western gate at OR 126 to top of the pass at Dee Wright Observatory, ODOT said. 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.
ODOT says separate closings like this are not uncommon.
Here is more from ODOT:
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 our 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. Please do not attempt to enter the construction zone next year while the highway is being repaved. 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.