The Sisters area was covered by smoke from the Black Crater Fire,* which started not long before I drove into Oregon for a family reunion in late July, 2006. Consequently, the view looked like this when my parents and I drove west toward Sisters on Highway 126 (MSRMaps map).
We didn't know how close we could get, and we finally came to this field on the McKenzie Pass Highway just west of Sisters, barely out of town, which is one of the best viewing areas to see the Three Sisters.
The Three Sisters were mostly hidden by the smoke, but Broken Top - the subject of this month's Where in the West - was, for the most part, visible beneath the thick, dark, smokey blanket. Lots of fire-fighting planes were flying in and out of the area...
...so we took a lot of photos of them flying around, including the two above with Broken Top, or part of it, in the background.
The next day - although the fire hadn't been put out and Sisters was under threat of evacuation (and was eventually partially evacuated) - the view of Broken Top (MSRMaps map) from the Cascade Lakes Highway** was amazingly clear, despite the haze and smoke almost everywhere else, including at our reunion site north of Redmond.
The Cascade Lakes Highway has some great views of the volcanic landforms of the region; the road goes just north of Mt. Bachelor, seen above looking up into a cinder cone on its north side.
We made it to this turnoff (I think to Mt. Bachelor ski area), where the road to the left was signed no-entry because of a fire camp. This is a great area to stop and see the South Sister, and the Dutchman Flat viewing area for Broken Top is either shortly before or shortly after this road junction.
Later, if you are of a mind to and still happen to be in the area, you can have dinner in Tumalo.
If you are a photophile, you can play with the settings on your camera and take weirdly colored sunset pictures.
And if you are supremely lucky, you can marvel at the apt sentiments found on a typical geologist's T-shirt.
* The Black Crater Fire continued into August, long after we had left the area, and resulted in some evacuations. For those who are interested, more pictures of the fire can be seen here and here, and more information can be found on the web.
** The Cascade Lakes Highway leaves southwest Bend as SW Century Drive or Century Drive Highway according to Google Earth and the Oregon Atlas & Gazeteer.