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Just within the Deschutes National Forest boundary, FR-41 leads to the Deschutes River, with access to fishing, canoeing and two notable waterfalls, Benham and Dillon.A few miles west on the byway, you’ll see a vast lava flow that altered the river’s course.The Lava Lands Visitor Center on US-97 has maps, information and interpretive exhibits.The byway begins on Bend’s west side, where OR-372 quickly begins its climb toward Mt. Signs and maps also call this road the Cascade Lakes Highway or Century Drive — the latter because the route was once a 100-mile/161- kilometer dirt road.It’s one of the many landforms shaped by volcanic activity along this route. With nearly 3,700 acres of lift-served terrain and a 3,365-foot vertical drop, it’s the largest ski area in Oregon, with deep, dry snows that often last into June.The ponderosa pine forests along the byway are characteristic of the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains. In summer, hikers and sightseers can ride a chairlift to the Pine Marten Lodge at an elevation of 7,775 feet for views that stretch from Washington to California. Bachelor to Dutchman Flat, you’ll get an impressive look at Broken Top Mountain, which provides a rare opportunity to see inside a stratovolcano — a tall, canonical volcano.Astronaut James Irwin carried a sliver of rock from Devils Hill on his Apollo 15 mission and left it on the moon.Dozens of lakes beckon as the byway swings south on FR-46.
As NASA readied for its moon-landing missions in the 1960s, astronauts trained in these lunar-esque lava fields.Its vibrant downtown — filled with shops, hotels, restaurants and Bend’s renowned array of craft breweries — nudges up alongside the Deschutes River, bordered by historic Drake Park.A bit farther south, a shuttered paper mill has been reborn as the Old Mill District, another riverfront commercial core with shopping, entertainment and a network of walking/cycling paths.To the west, trails lead to lakes hidden in the Three Sisters Wilderness.On the east side of the byway, the Elk Lake Recreation Area offers easy water access, along with cabins, dining, a campground, a marina, boat rentals and other services.