There are more than four million roads in the United States, and just 125 of them are National Scenic Byways. Designated by the government, these roads are important in a cultural, natural, historic, recreational, archeological, or scenic way.
Of these 125, only 31 can claim an even more rare designation: that of an All-American Road. This means the byway is particularly distinct, providing a layered experience that can’t be had elsewhere. Southern Oregon is home to one of these roads, and it's an epic necessity for anyone who loves mountains, volcanoes, and panoramic beauty.
The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is a 500 mile “volcano to volcano” drive that originates from Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and ends at Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. A shorter version of the route ending at the California border is also well worth your time and gas money.
From the start, you’ll be surrounded by stunning volcanic areas that feel like they’re frozen in time. You’ll see where ancient lava flows turned to rock, stare at immense volcanic peaks, and marvel at the constantly shifting backdrop of scenic wonder.
The route may be an All-American Road, but it also encourages you to find a parking spot and explore on two feet. Points of interest include national parks, forests, wildlife sanctuaries, hiking trails, state parks, and more. To truly get a sense of these lands, some time at less than highway speeds is recommended.
Finally (yet crucially), the drive offers historical, cultural, and recreational features. You can learn about Native American Tribal history, see Emigration Trails, enjoy world-class bird watching, visit charming little towns, and much more.
The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is one of our country’s greatest stretches of road. It’s a part of what makes the PNW so unforgettably scenic.
Drive safe out there.