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Siskiyou Scenic Byway

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

Start:Tulelake
End:Forks of Salmon
2 - 4Days,10Stops,210Miles
Tulelake
Rose Mary Bush/Getty Images
Lava Beds National Monument
Jeff Goulden/Getty Images
Dorris
Franogueira/Getty Images
Hospitality Inn Bed & Breakfast
Montague
––––
Yreka
Rafa Elias/Getty Images
Fort Jones
Berlyn Photography/Getty Images
Five Mary’s Burgerhouse
Luiz Henrique Mendes/Getty Images
Etna
E+/Getty Images
Forks of Salmon
Courtesy of Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School
Stop 1

Tulelake

591 Main St, Tulelake

Once the peaceful home to the Modoc tribe, the town of Tulelake in Siskiyou County (which is also home to Tule Lake, two words) is packed with history. Gain a deeper understanding of the area with a trip to the Museum of Local History at Tulelake-Butte Valley Fairgrounds. Examine artifacts like handwoven snowshoes and homesteader’s shotguns. At the museum’s front desk, visitors may request tours of the nearby Tule Lake National Monument where more than 18,000 Japanese-Americans were held during World War II. Listen to audio clips from detainees to pay homage to the hardships these men and women endured. On the outskirts of town lies the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Views of mountain peaks encircling the large 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).

Stop 2

Lava Beds National Monument

1 Indian Well Hqts, Tulelake

The terrain of Lava Beds National Monument is marked by craggy, moon-like rocks and trailheads that lead seemingly nowhere. That’s because the trails here start with an underground ladder allowing access to one of the park’s more than 700 caves. The visitors center is an obligatory first stop where underground explorers can secure a day pass and rent a heavy-duty flashlight. Start with the paved and fully lit Mushpot Cave or the beginner-friendly Skull Cave where metal stairs lead 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. Above-ground options include hikes through 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.

Stop 3

Dorris

307 S Main St, Dorris

The tiny town of Dorris (population 907) is full of Siskiyou County-style small-town charm. The snowy peak of Mount Shasta looms large in the distance, but there’s another towering figure smack in the center of town. An American flag flaps 200 feet off the ground on what was once the tallest flagpole in the United States. Stop in for a bite at El Ranchito, which steams tamales fresh every morning, or A Slice of Heaven, serving authentic German potato salad and homemade pastries. On a side street sits the unassuming Hospitality Inn. An operating hospital until 1964, the inn features antique wheelchair wheels as chandeliers, a maternity ward, and a basement crematorium. Modern touches include an outdoor hot tub, best enjoyed during a light snowfall.

Stop 5

Montague

1450 Airport Way, Montague

Named in honor of Central Pacific Railroad engineer, Samuel Skerry Montague, this town was originally a train depot. Today it’s a thriving community with strong agricultural roots. Head to downtown Montague to browse the selection at Shepherd's Dream, where locally sourced wool is spun into keepsake items like yoga mats, baby bedding, and painted dolls. Experience a different type of bounty at Mount Shasta Lavender Farms: In summer the fields brim with purple flowers; lavender potpourri, bath salts, and tea can be purchased from the estate year-round.

Plan your visit

    Stop 6

    Yreka

    701 4th St, Yreka

    This former gold rush hotspot marks the northernmost border of Shasta Valley. Get a sense of Yreka’s boomtown past on Miner Street, where historic buildings now house charming little shops and restaurants. Find locally roasted beans and something to read in Zephyr Books & Coffee. Kids will love bellying up to the counter and ordering an old timey ice cream soda at Shasta’s Chocolate Emporium. Adults may prefer Etna Brewery and Tap House, which serves organic craft beer in a family-friendly setting. Don’t miss the Siskiyou County Museum where a $3 entry fee gives you access to Native American artifacts, antique firearms, and early transportation vehicles in the 2.5-acre outdoor gallery.

    Plan your visit

    Stop 7

    Fort Jones

    11913 Main Street, Fort Jones

    Named after a former army outpost, the town of Fort Jones is now a California Historical Landmark. Get a sense of Scott Valley history at the Fort Jones Museum, which features a Shasta rain rock, once used by shamans to make rainfall start or stop. Little ones will love the Gifted Horse Lodge, a rodeo-themed retail store, cafe, and bed-and-breakfast where you can pet the ponies out front before stopping in for a decadent milkshake.

    Plan your visit

    SPOTLIGHT

    Five Mary’s Burgerhouse

    11825 Main St, Fort Jones

    Grab lunch at Five Marys "M5" Burgerhouse. The Americana-chic decor (think antler racks and leather couches) complements the mouthwatering burgers, sourced with meat from the owners’ ranch.

    Stop 9

    Etna

    119 Diggles St, Etna

    Take a trip through time in historic Etna. This little Siskiyou County town was founded in the 1870s and still boasts a number of original structures. Book a stay at the Collier Hotel, which was originally built as a brothel for miners but now features well-appointed rooms decorated with period pieces. Denny Bar Co., housed in an old mercantile, uses housemade spirits to put a twist on classic cocktails, while Etna Brewing Co. & Brew Pub occupies a 19th-century bottling plant shut down by prohibition. Etna also serves as an ideal entry point for exploring Klamath National Forest and the Marble Mountain Wilderness. For an unforgettable day, start at the Etna Summit Trailhead and head two miles to Upper Ruffey Lake. Bring a picnic and your swimsuit to spend a few hours on the water before hiking back down.

    Plan your visit

    Stop 10

    Forks of Salmon

    14026 Salmon River Rd, Forks of Salmon

    This aptly named town is located where the north and south forks of the Salmon River meet. Forks of Salmon can only be accessed by steep narrow roads twisting into town, but the payoff is absolutely worth the drive. This wildly beautiful spot is a paradise for watersports-loving travelers or anyone looking to unplug. The Otter Bar Lodge is both a relaxing retreat and a world-class whitewater kayaking school. Sign up for a seven-day program (all experience levels welcome) to improve your paddling skills during the day, relax in the wood-fired sauna in the afternoon, and enjoy gourmet meals featuring locally sourced ingredients at night.

    Plan your visit

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    Road Trip Snapshot

    Learn more about the amazing locations featured in this road trip. Ready to plan your trip? Print the itinerary or map your adventure to get started.

    Stop 1Tulelake
    591 Main St, Tulelake
    Stop 2Lava Beds National Monument
    1 Indian Well Hqts, Tulelake
    Stop 3Dorris
    307 S Main St, Dorris
    SPOTLIGHTHospitality Inn Bed & Breakfast
    200 S California St, Dorris
      Stop 6Yreka
      701 4th St, Yreka
      • Yrekahttps://ci.yreka.ca.us/visitors/visitor-information
      Stop 7Fort Jones
      11913 Main Street, Fort Jones
      SPOTLIGHTFive Mary’s Burgerhouse
      11825 Main St, Fort Jones
        Stop 9Etna
        119 Diggles St, Etna
        Stop 10Forks of Salmon
        14026 Salmon River Rd, Forks of Salmon

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