Oregon Road Trips

A post-wildfire guide to the McKenzie River Scenic Byway

Want the quick way to access the post-wildfire guide? Download the app below and the answers you seek you will find! For the story behind the guide, continue reading below.

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Where were you on September 7, 2020? For those who live around and love the McKenzie River, they know exactly where they were that fateful evening. And they, as some of you may know, the McKenzie River Scenic Byway was forever altered after the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire erupted that night.

Click play to hear narration from the Together Anywhere McKenzie River Tour about the Holiday Farm Fire.
View from Finn Rock Landing one month after the Holiday Farm Fire was contained.

First, it was COVID-19. Starting in March 2020, the face of tourism was changed around the world. A difficult year of closures and travel restrictions had severely impacted communities. And then, for places like the McKenzie River, things were forever changed with the wildfires that erupted that September.

And yet, the McKenzie River and its communities remain. The river continues to be as beautiful as ever. The surroundings are recovering and new opportunities are opening up. But some things have changed and there are stories to be told. So… what is all this about a “post-wildfire guide” to the McKenzie?

A post-wildfire guide

Driving tour snippets

In March 2021, the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce, connected with Together Anywhere, and audio guide driving tour company. Travel Lane County (AKA Eugene, Cascades & Coast) had created the opportunity for connection and after a couple meetings, it was decided: let’s tell the stories down the scenic byway using this driving tour app!

McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce - Logo
Travel Lane County - Logo

Between April and May 2021, the Chamber and Together Anywhere worked together to create, write, edit and narrate the stories of the area. Together, we identified unchanged landmarks, unique untold experiences and, of course, imparted information about the resiliency of this community after the fires.

There are stories about the past, like one discovers on the McKenzie History Highway. There are stories of the present, like the opportunity to travel down the river in a famous McKenzie Drift Boat. And stories of the future, like the building of the McKenzie Discovery Center near Leaburg Dam. We tell stories of its people, like Chief Christiana “Rainbow” Plews and Barry Lopez. We tell stories of the communities like Blue River and Rainbow. And we tell stories of places lost but not forgotten, like Christmas Treasures.

Want to know more about Together Anywhere?

Together Anywhere, an audio guide driving tour company, was very familiar with this area prior to the Holiday Farm Fire. After years of playing and camping around the McKenzie River, we spent months of research, content writing, and narration to release of our first ever audio tour in June 2019.

We celebrated the launch of our app with a demonstration on a party bus down the scenic byway listening to stories with 35 of our first supporters, stopping at Ike’s Pizza, the McKenzie General Store & Obsidian Grill, and Belknap Hot Springs. It was a magical day. We were dreaming of tours all around Oregon as we began this new adventure together.

And as one of our favorite places, the McKenzie River was a place that needed to be shared first. We are grateful for the work with the Chamber to bring new life to the project, enhancing this tour and allowing for community involvement in the storytelling we feel is so important.

The partnership with the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce will forever change the course of our work, bringing the passion and purpose of what we do into a whole new dimension. It really brought the meaning of being together anywhere into reality for us.

Map of Together Anywhere experiences

Together Anywhere has created a way to explore Oregon through stories while driving, remaining separate from other travelers as you go down the road, learning more about this beautiful place we get to live. This post is an example of our tours, except our tours speak to you. You just download the app, choose your drive, and you are on your way!

Our tours are ever expanding around the Central Cascades, Mount Hood, the Columbia Gorge and Oregon at large!