Introducing the Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway

Crooked River Highway. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon’s latest officially designated Scenic Bikeway traverses a rugged river canyon about 35 miles northeast of Bend and boasts a base camp at one of the coolest country towns in the state.

The Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway is an 18-mile stretch of choice pavement between Prineville and the Big Bend Campground. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Travel Oregon announced the route yesterday. It’s the 17th Scenic Bikeway in the collection.

Here’s more from the official description:

The route leaves the pastures behind as it enters the Crooked River Canyon. The road slips through the canyon’s towering basalt cliffs, gently curving and climbing to a scenic view near Palisades Campground before descending back toward the river. Riders will pedal by Chimney Rock Recreation Site, a popular picnicking spot and fun place to watch local anglers fly fish in the Crooked River.

The final stretch of the Crooked River Scenic Bikeway continues through the canyon and passes by several other day-use sites and campgrounds. Observant riders might spot resident wildlife like deer, great blue herons and golden eagles. The bikeway ends at Big Bend Campground, which has parking, restrooms, water and power.

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The ride is best enjoyed during the spring and fall when seasonal colors are vibrant. Most of the day-use sites along the route have restrooms; two have water to refill any empty bottles. The bikeway can also be ridden on clear winter days, rewarding intrepid cyclists with brisk blue-sky rides through the quiet landscape.

Here’s the official map:

Riders who have tackled the Oregon Outback will know this lonely stretch of Highway 27 well. I recall stopping for a few photos of the river and wildflowers along the road just past Prineville Reservoir when I did the ride back in 2015.

Highlights of this route include Prineville itself — a perfect place to hang out pre or post-ride. Don’t miss Good Bike Co. for friendly tips and last-minute items, or Connelly’s Cowboy Corner grocery store and deli to load up on snacks.

For a detailed description of the route and all the maps and other info you need for a great trip, check out the route on

Read more about Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways in our archives.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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