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The Outback

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Ride Stats:

  • Distance: 143 miles / 230.1 km
  • Ride Time: 4-6 hours
  • Approximate Fuel Costs: $10.87
  • State: Oregon
Submitted by:
OpenRoadRider pro

Outback Scenic Byway

Learn for yourself why outback means 'isolated rural country,' when you drive through this rugged and remote area of Oregon. Let this Byway take you through Oregon's outback, where the agricultural and timber industries are tied to life, heritage, and values; where the landscape ranges from lush green forests to arid desert; and where the people that live here seek independence but know each other by first names. While you're here, you'll also notice that community is paramount to the people who call this area home.

The drive starts in the Deschutes National Forest, through stands of lodgepole and ponderosa. Experience the beauty of this rural country, with geologic oddities that are the remains of volcanic activity in the area. You can walk along the edges of Hole in the Ground, a volcanic explosion crater, or visit Homestead Village, a living history museum near the unique formation of Fort Rock. There are also lava flows and caves, and the nation's largest flow of obsidian and cinder cones from volcanoes can be found here. Visitors can walk along the paths with molten lava boiling three miles below the surface and see the obsidian chips once valued by the Native Americans for arrowheads.

Volcanoes aren't the only scenery along this Byway, where you can also experience the beauty of Old Perpetual, Oregon's only geyser, or see the snow-covered ridges of Abert Rim.

Visit some of the various lakes of the area, such as Abert Lake, where a palette of desert colors are reflected in the alkaline waters. You can hike trails, unravel the mysteries of petroglyphs, or bike the quiet country roads at Summer Lake.

Walk along the paths of the past by visiting Newberry Crater, which was home to Native Americans some 10,000 years ago, or when you go through Picture Rock Pass, imagine the hands that engraved the petroglyphs thousands of years ago.

With beautiful scenery and geologic wonders, take the chance to experience this unique drive along the 'outback' of Oregon.


Would you ever live in the summit of an active volcano? 10,000 years ago a group of Native Americans chose Newberry Crater as their home, and now you can drive through the crater and see why they chose this pinnacle high above the ground. Pathways made of miles of glowing basalt and obsidian flows make up the structure of the summit, making the Newberry National Volcanic National Monument one of the most outstanding geological features in central Oregon.

But Newberry is not the only remains of volcanic activity. As you travel the Byway, pause along the Abert Rim, the largest geologic fault in America. A daunting sight, it towers 2,500 feet above the valley floor of Eastern Oregon's high desert. Hang gliders can test the heights and wind from the pinnacle of this remarkable structure. While not quite as massive in height, Fork Rock is still a must-see for visitors. The remains of the volcano resemble a giant citadel from the outside and contain a Homestead Village inside, showing visitors what life was like in the early stages of settlement of the West.

Explore a variety of volcanic formations at Devils Garden and Lava Mountain Squaw Ridge Wilderness Study Area. While you peer over the edges of the sunken formation, marks along the sides of the craters show the various explosions that created this wonder of nature. Hike through the lava flows and see the different types of lava compositions that resemble a huge meteor crater. The lunar-like landscape helped to train astronauts in the 1960s.

Geologists and budding volcanologists alike will enjoy exploring the Outback Scenic Byway. Visitors can wander along obsidian pathways where molten lava bubbles only three miles below the surface, and scientists predict that one day it will erupt again.

Highway 31, US Highway 395, and Country Roads 5-10, 11, and 11A are maintained year-round. On rare occasions, winter snowstorms may slow traffic, but the roads are rarely closed. State maintenance stations are located in Bend and Lakeview.

Best Time to Drive
Spring to Fall

High Season
Spring to Fall
Information was obtained by permission from

This is a motorcycle ride in the state of Oregon. This motorcycle route has 9 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by OpenRoadRider in March. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by OpenRoadRider

Rider Photos:

  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 1 for The Outback
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 2 for The Outback
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 3 for The Outback
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 4 for The Outback
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 5 for The Outback
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 6 for The Outback

Ride Scenery:

Historic SitesUrban/ResidentialParksLakesForestMountainsRuralDesertFarm Land

Best Time to Go

Spring, Summer, Fall

Road Characteristics:

Straight RoadSweeping Curves RoadHillyLight Traffic

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Previous Comments from other Riders:

orbiker says:

There is a lot more to this area then Byways lets on.
Summer Lake Hot Springs is a good stop to camp or cabin plus a soak. It is located six miles north of Paisley, Oregon on Highway 31 at mile marker 92.
Paisley is also a good stop. Fuel and food. Pioneer Saloon has great food and is owned by a biker.
Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 8:40 AM


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