California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 93

49

Siskiyou County
Adventure

From underground cave exploration to whitewater
rafting, this wild ride in California's northern region is
packed with big skies and plenty to explore

S I S K I YO U C O U N T Y I S A S FA R N O R T H A S YO U C A N G O

in California, and the farther up you get, the wilder things are. Expect
extreme highs and delightful lows (as in underground lava tubes). All
you need is a flashlight, binoculars, and a full tank of gas.
Once the peaceful home to the Modoc tribe, the town of Tulelake
is packed with interesting history. Smack-dab on the county's
easternmost border, it's also an ideal entry point for exploration.
Start by gaining a deeper understanding of the area with a trip to
the Museum of Local History at Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair. Continue
west for a few miles before turning left on Hill Road toward Lava Beds
National Monument. On the way, pause at the Tule Lake National
Wildlife Refuge. Views of mountain peaks encircling the lake are
worth the stop alone, but the real draw is the birds. A short hike to
an onsite photography blind is the best way to see bald eagles (peak
months are January and February).
Once in Lava Beds, the view shifts from grassy meadows to a
craggy, moon-like terrain with trailheads that seemingly lead to
nowhere. That's because they start with an underground ladder to
access one of the more than 700 caves. Secure your pass at the
visitors center and rent a light (necessary for most of the caves)
before exploring the geological wonders.
Start with the paved and fully-lit Mushpot Cave and explore the
enormous Skull Cave. Descend into its mouth and follow metal stairs
to the floor where icicles hang year-round. At Golden Dome, the
ceiling is covered with yellow, water-rappelling microorganisms, which
create an opulent effect that looks just like gold leaf. Hike through

MOU N T SHASTA

Captain Jack's Stronghold where Modoc fighters fought to protect
their homeland, and Petroglyph Point, one of the largest examples of
Native American rock art in the world.
All that spelunking is sure to work up an appetite. Head to the tiny

A few miles south in the town of Fort Jones, grab a late lunch

town of Dorris (population 907) and stop at El Ranchito for a tamale,

at Five Marys M5 Burgerhouse. The Americana-chic decor (think

steamed fresh every day, before driving to your home for the evening,

antler racks and leather couches) is complemented by juicy burgers,

the Hospitality Inn, an operating hospital until 1964.

sourced with meat from the owners' ranch. Wash your dinner down

The next morning, enjoy a hot breakfast from the innkeeper before

PHOTOGRAPH:

heading southwest on Route 97. With evergreens on either side,

with a splash of unaged whiskey served neat at Etna's Denny Bar Co.,
the first distillery in this northern region.

you'll drive straight toward majestic Mount Shasta, enjoying views

The next stretch is stunning but requires rapt attention thanks

of the snowy peak all the way. Cut toward Yreka and stretch your

to breathtaking drop-offs and steep dips. Sawyers Bar Road takes

legs at Pluto's Cave, easily accessible via a one-mile hike through

you through Klamath National Forest and the Marble Mountain

high-desert plants. After knocking the dirt from your shoes, get back

Wilderness. Go slow and enjoy the verdant views along the snaking

in the car and stop in the town of Montague to browse woolly wares

track road. Once in Forks of Salmon, check into the Otter Bar Lodge.

at Shepherd's Dream. Continue the window-shopping along Yreka's

The forested retreat doubles as a world-class whitewater kayaking

historic Miner Street.

school-plan to stay a few days to master a different sort of travel.

2-3
days

S TA R T Tulelake
F I N I S H Forks of Salmon

210
miles

I N S I D E T I P Bring a friend,
or better yet, the whole family.
The adventurous nature of
this trip is best enjoyed with
spirited company.

M O S T OT H E R WO R L D LY S TO P Lava Beds National Monument

93
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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover2
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Contents
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