A dirt road to the top of Pelican Butte in Oregon
Pelican Butte is a dormant shield volcano at an elevation of 2.450m (8,037 ft) above the sea level, located in Klamath County, in southern Oregon, USA. It’s one of the highest roads of Oregon.
Set high at the southern tip of the Cascade Mountain Range, the unpaved road to the summit is steep, rocky, narrow, switchbacked and occasionally muddy. It’s called NF-980 (Pelican Butte Road). The road zigzags up the west flanks of the volcano to the summit. From around 6000 feet you'll need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle. The road is steep. Starting from NF-3651, the ascent is 7.24km (4.5 miles) long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 683 meters. The average gradient is 9.43%, hitting a 13.5% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps.
Located in Winema National Forest, accessibility is largely limited to the summer season. It is not generally snow-free until late June or even July in some years. At the summit there’s a fire lookout tower built in 1935. The present 20' all-steel observation tower, built in 1986 by the local cable TV company so it could accommodate radio equipment, is now only used during emergencies. The views are incredible. From the summit you will get good views of the Sky Lakes and Mountain Lakes Wildernesses, Mt. McLoughlin, Upper Klamath Lake, and the Klamath Basin.