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Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway

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Basics
Location:
Northern California near Oregon through Modoc National Forest
Surface:
Paved
Length:
120 miles (193 km)
Time:
3 hours
Season:
Closed between November and May due to snow.

Description

The Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway navigates diverse and alien terrain, no joke—the landscapes found here served as the training ground for astronauts before the first moon landing! Odd lava creations backed by snowcapped mountains and arid flatland is all part of the scene created just a few hundred years ago.

The Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway starts from McCloud, 68 miles north of Redding. Take HWY 89 until signs direct you to the McCloud River Loop and Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway. The drive ends at Tulelake in the north.

Mt. Shasta Looms in the distance for most of the drive and offers snow activities like ice climbing and skiing. An interesting place to stop along the way is the small town of McCloud at the base of the mountain. McCloud is a throwback to logging and the turn of the century with buildings from this era still well preserved and operational. The Burnt Lava Flow Geological Area is also worth seeing as is the caldera of Medicine Lake Highlands, the Cascades' largest volcano. For something different try spelunking through countless lava tube caves with a ranger at Lava Beds National Monument.

Tourism Resources

Points of Interest Along The Way

Captain Jack's Stronghold (CA)

During the Modoc War in the late 19th century, 57 native Modoc Indian warriors and their families held off over one thousand American troops for five months in this naturally-created lava fortress.

Klamath National Forest - California (CA)

The landscape of Klamath National Forest is very diverse. Its terrain ranges from high desert to lush rain forest. The Klamath Mountains are the oldest of the Pacific coastal mountains, dating back 500 million years. These mountains have ridges of various sizes that have been deeply cut throughout time by moving rivers.

Because of the abundance of forested land and water, the Klamath National Forest is home to a wide diversity of animal and plant species. Almost 400 species of wildlife call the Klamath home, including 100 species of mammals and 237 bird species.

The forest offers great opportunities for hiking, biking,camping, and fishing.

Lava Beds National Monument (CA)

Lava Beds National Monument is located about 50 miles from the northern end of the byway across the state line in California just off of US Hwy 97. This monument is located on the Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway. There are guided tours available of cinder buttes, volcanic glass flows and almost 200 caves and lava tubes. The visitors center offers exhibits on volcanic forces and the Modoc War that occurred here.

Medicine Lake (CA)

Located at the top of Medicine Lake Volcano, Medicine Lake provides visitors with a fine picnic, camping, or hiking spot.

Modoc National Forest (CA)

This forest located in the northeastern corner of California, has outstanding opportunities for recreation, special habitat management, unique species viewing, sustainable ecosystem and watershed management

Mount Shasta Board and Ski Park (CA)

Featuring over 400 acres of skiable terrain serviced by three four lifts, Mount Shasta provides conventional skiing and snowboarding runs along with terrain parks for various skill levels.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest (CA)

The Forest encompasses five wildernesses, hundreds of mountain lakes, and 1,900 miles of streams. It provides opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, camping, mountain climbing, skiing, and scenic driving.

Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge (CA)

Established in 1928, Tule Lake Refuge encompasses 39,116 acres of mostly open water and croplands. This Refuge is the site of the largest annual concentration of waterfowl in North America. Over200 species of birds can be found on and near the 13,000-acre lake.

Tulelake (CA)

This small quaint, historic town is the horseradish growing capital of the world. Many cultural activities are held here including Butte Valley Fair, which is held the weekend before Labor Day.

Location:
Northern California near Oregon through Modoc National Forest
Surface:
Paved
Length:
120 miles (193 km)
Time:
3 hours
Main Roads:
Medicine Lake Rd
Season:
Closed between November and May due to snow.
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