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Mckenzie Pass Highway will close Thursday for the winter

closed gates on a rainy highway through thick forest
Kacey Davey
The Old McKenzie Highway will be closed for the winter season on Thursday morning.

The Old McKenzie Pass Highway, also known as Highway 242, will close for the winter Thursday, Nov. 9.

Oregon Department of Transportation crews will close the east side gates in the morning. The west side gates were closed on Oct. 30 because of weather.

McKenzie Pass is a secondary, scenic highway. Weather, costs and logistics make it impractical to maintain for travel year-round. When the highway is closed, it is closed to all users and not maintained. 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 Highway 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.

 View current road and weather conditions at tripcheck.com or by calling 511.

Paving project coming next year

Oregon Department of Transportation said 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 this side of the highway is completely inaccessible until the paving is complete.


Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.