You suffer 48 miles of Hwy 97 for 20 miles of fun to run up to the lookout and back one time, but the fun is worth every mile on 97—especially if you make the trip up and back to the lookout more than once. Just be careful coming and going as there are often slow moving RVs making their way to and from the campgrounds. The views from the lookout are spectacular.
From Bend, go south on Hwy 97 for 24 miles. Go left on Paulina-East Lake Road and proceed up to the lookout approximately 10 miles up on the right side of the road. You can continue up another few miles past the lookout, but there is a charge to enter the park. Turn around here and head back down to 97, then back to Bend.
Hwy 97 is the main two-lane highway east of the Cascade Range. It gets a lot of truck traffic as well as tourists on their way to or from California (do yourself a favor and just stay out of their way). The stretch between Bend and Sunriver is one of the most scenic sections–particularly near Lava Butte.
Paulina Lake Road
After the first couple of miles, this road turns into a serious peg-scraping curve fest. Lots of long 35 mph curves with decent site lines. Deer, RVs and Forest Service Deputies are the main hazards…if you don’t include blowing a turn and winding up 20 feet down an embankment. Be sure to stop long enough at the look out to enjoy the view before you head back down.
View Newberry Crater Out and Back from Bend, Oregon in a larger map