Lassen County
Visitor Guide
Maps
2
530-365-7500 or Toll Free: 1-800-474-2782
Hwy 89 McCloud, CA 96057
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Traversing an area unrivaled in North America for its volcanic features, the Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway provides a rich mixture of geology, wildlife viewing and Indian history. This route is somewhat unique in that the entire route is only available for driving for a short four month span from June 1st to October 15th. Although the road is good, portions of the byway are unpaved. The portion of the route in the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is best visited during the winter months when the most viewing opportunities are possible. 

 

Starting in McCloud you will have the chance to step back in time to experience what life was like in a company owned logging town. The McCloud Lumber Company built most of the structures, and a quick drive around the community will give you a glimpse of this past life. The McCloud Railway operates the year-round Shasta Sunset Dinner Train. This excursion in 1920’s style railroad cars with gourmet dining is worth the trip. The McCloud Hotel and several B&B’s offer a chance to “sleep back in time”. Traveling east from McCloud on Hwy. 89 almost immediately offers the opportunity to view the three McCloud Falls. The Fowlers Campground turnoff will lead you to the area of Lower, Middle and Upper Falls, which are truly spectacular in the spring and early summer. 

 

Continuing east to Bartle is the turn north on Forest Service Route 15. This road leads to the Medicine Lake Highlands, a broad shield volcano. This volcano is actually larger than Mt. Shasta in total mass and is the largest volcano in the Cascade Range. The original volcano’s center part collapsed creating a huge basin 6 miles long by 4 miles wide and this is now the location of Medicine Lake. Medicine Lake provides good fishing and relaxing summertime camping experiences. Side trips from here include the Mt. Hoffman Fire Lookout (a genuine fire lookout which can be rented from the Forest Service) and Glass Mountain, one of the largest obsidian glass flows in the American West. Continuing north to Lava Beds National Monument is really a volcanic experience. This area was used for moon landing training by the original Apollo astronauts and has the highest concentration of lava tube caves in North America with over 435. The caves can be explored on your own, but the monument also offers ranger led tours. Bring a flashlight! This area is also the site of the only Indian/US Army battle in California’s early history. Captain Jack’s Stronghold, a natural Lava fortress, was used as a base for 57 Modoc warriors and their families for more than 5 months. They held off a US Army force more than 20 times their strength. Visitors can tour Captain Jack’s Stronghold to learn about both the geographic and historic wonder of this unusual landscape. 

 

At the north end of the byway is the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge. It encompasses more than 39,000 acres along the Oregon/California border. The refuge offers world class wildlife viewing opportunities for large flocks of ducks, geese and white pelicans. It is also home for the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the continental US. Although the entire route may not be available during the winter months, a trip to the wildlife refuge in the winter provides the best opportunity to see both eagles and a wide variety of waterfowl. The route ends in the small town of Tulelake. 

 

Drive Tips 

Distance: 120 miles 

Minimum Driving Time: 4-5 hours 

Best Time to go: June 1 through Oct. 15th 

Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association
1699 HWY 273, Anderson, CA 96007 | (P) 530-365-7500 | (F) 530-365-1258
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