Central Oregon’s million-acre Deschutes National Forest offers RV camping vacation possibilities for the weekend, week-long or we’re-going-to-be-gone-awhile RV travelers. One of the most memorable ways to experience this vast forest is on the Outback Scenic Byway, from La Pine, OR through the heart of the forest to Lakeview. It’s a little over one hundred miles from end to end, but this byway is loaded with historic and natural wonders to discover. Plan to take your time and savor the Oregon Outback by RV.
Outback Scenic Byway Itinerary
The Outback Scenic Byway (Hwy 31) explores the volcanic slopes, mountain lakes, pine forests and sagebrush desert of Central Oregon. Beginning in La Pine, OR, in the heart of Deschutes NF, this byway travels south and soon passes near a number of fascinating historic and natural attractions. Fort Rock State Natural Area, a rugged desert volcanic formation, makes for excellent hiking (be sure to seek out the immense “Hole in the Ground” while you’re there.) Nearby Christmas Valley Sand Dunes offer RVers plenty of OHV action. And to learn about the area’s early settlers, visit the Homestead Village Museum in Fort Rock, OR.
And then it’s south on the Outback Scenic Byway through the village of Silver Lake, over Picture Rock Pass, where ancient petroglyphs can be seen, and into a wonderland of alkali lakes and natural hot springs. Plan a stay at Summer Lake Hot Springs RV Resort for a unique, spa-centered experience on the byway. Another way RVers love to experience Summer Lake is by hiking the eighteen-thousand-acre wildlife refuge. By the way, anglers will find nearby Ana Reservoir RV Park is close to rainbow trout and bass fishing hotspots.
Did we mention that part of the unique appeal of the Oregon Outback is the ability to drive for miles without seeing a house or a town? This is a place where pulling off at an overlook for panoramic views can be a solitary experience. But if you need a little civilization mixed in with open spaces, quaint towns along the Oregon Outback Scenic Byway fit the bill. Towns like Paisley, Christmas Valley and Fort Rock offer mercantiles, cafes and taverns, each with rugged desert charm. OregonsOutback.com has a nice listing of points of interest along the byway.
Let’s keep rolling to find the wonders of Lake Abert and the Abert Rim, about thirteen miles off the byway at Valley Falls. The lake is saline, inhabited only by brine shrimp, but that makes it the perfect place for bird watching! If you’re up to the challenge, hike to the Rim to capture magnificent photos from this quarter-mile-high rock formation above the high desert.
Just south of Lake Abert, RV camping rockhounds will find an Oregon Outback treasure, the Sunstone Gem Collection Area, where you can hunt for the state’s official gem. Once you’ve hunted for flashing stones in the desert, it’s time to head south again.
As you make the final run of this itinerary to the mountain town of Lakeview, plan to stay and play awhile. Settled at the base of the Warner Mountains, the area surrounding Lakeview is a wonderful place to hike, bike and fish. Keep your eyes to the sky and you may see hang-gliders launching from area bluffs. Junipers Reservoir RV Resort, located on a working cattle ranch, offers access to a wealth of outdoor recreation.
Want some memorable wildlife photos to take home from vacation? Visit Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, surrounded by a picturesque chain of lakes east of Lakeview. It’s likely you’ll also spy bighorn sheep, elk and deer along the way.
Ready for an Oregon RV camping adventure? The Oregon Outback is waiting for RV camping fans to come discover its rugged desert charm. We’ll help you find the perfect RV rental for your trip, and then it’s off to follow your imagination along the Oregon Outback Scenic Byway.