Lower Crooked River Back Country Byway

Winding Lower Crooked River Back Country Byway with the Crooked River

Prineville District Office 3050 NE 3rd Street Prineville, OR 97754

43.85039, -120.73294

From Bend, Oregon: Drive 33.3 miles east on State Highway 20; the junction with State Highway 27 -the Lower Crooked River Back Country Byway- will be on your left.

External Map:
Fee Description:

No fees. Campgrounds along the Back Country Byway charge fees year-round.


Lower Crooked River Back Country Byway

Just 40 minutes east of the hubbub of Bend, Oregon, sleepy Highway 27 winds 43 miles north from Highway 20 to the city of Prineville. Although the entire route is a state highway, the southernmost 18 miles are unpaved but are of high-standard graded gravel suitable for a passenger vehicle. Private ranches are interspersed among public rangelands with views of rolling hills and towering basaltic buttes. After the paved section begins, the back country byway crosses the spillway of Bowman Dam before descending into the gorge of the Chimney Rock segment of the Crooked Wild and Scenic River with its dozen recreation sites. Here, access to camping, fishing and hiking opportunities are available year-round.

Know Before You Go:

  • Nine year-round campgrounds, two day-use areas and a hiking trail line the wild and scenic river stretch of this byway. Camping is $8 per night single site/$16 per night group site; $2 per extra vehicle (tow vehicles excluded) with a maximum of two vehicles allowed per site.

    Day-Use Areas and Campgrounds (ordered north to south)

  • Much of the back country byway is open range: watch for livestock.
  • Cell phone service is limited or not available in most locations along the back country highway.
  • Watch for bicyclists: the section of road between Prineville and Bowman Dam is a state scenic bikeway and the unpaved portion is a favorite of gravel bike riders.
  • When recreating on public lands, practice Leave-No-Trace Principles.

Point of Interest:

Hike up the 1.3-mile Chimney Rock Trail to its namesake butte located prominently above highway 27 opposite the Chimney Rock campground. Access to the trail is across the highway at the Chimney Rock Trailhead.

For a different view, visitors can ride the 18-mile Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway from Prineville to Big Bend Campground. Designated in 2018, this moderate route takes riders from picturesque farms to towering cliffs.

Accessibility Description (ABA/ADA):
Developed facilities along the Byway included accessible amenities such as parking, vault toilets and some paved paths.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips