-by La Huerita
Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All American Road (http://www.volcaniclegacybyway.org/ ).ith the price of gas so affordable this summer, it’s a good time to explore a vacation that takes advantage of the opportunity for a road trip. If you are within striking distance of Southern Oregon and Northern California, you might think about touring at least part of the 500-mile nationally recognized
This road is composed of two separate National Scenic Byways, the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway – Oregon and Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway – California. The latter also wholly includes the Lassen Scenic Byway. The southern end of the byway begins at California’s Lake Almanor (a lake of incredible beauty), just miles from the active geothermal features at Lassen Volcanic National Park. The northern end of the byway is capped by the exquisite Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Choose a portion of the route to explore, or splurge on gas and take a leisurely week or two to see the whole magnificent thing.
You might want to start at the southern end of the Byway in Lake Almanor (charming Susanville is the main small city nearby) and head north into the Lassen National ?Monument. The Lassen Scenic Byway will take you on a 187-mile trip that circles through the volcanic high country and forests of Lassen National Forest and Lassen National Park. All four types of volcanoes in the world are found in this area. (Mount Lassen itself last blew its top in the early 1900s, beginning in 1914 and sputtering to a stop in 1921.) Over 150 miles of trails and a culturally significant scenic highway provide access to volcanic wonders including steam vents, mudpots, boiling pools, volcanic peaks, and painted dunes, punctuated by pristine meadows and clear mountain lakes.
The Lava Tubes Caves, better known as the Subway Caves, are well worth a visit. Formed when lava and magma cooled above the surface of the soil, they are located just outside the northern part of the park near the junction of Highways 44 and 89. These caves wind for up to 25 miles past where the main exit is located but only about 1/3 of a mile is open to the public. The temperature of the caves remains constant and it is a bit chilly inside. Bring a jacket and a flashlight.
Just north of Lassen, don’t miss the Waterfalls Region. McArthur–Burney Falls Memorial State Park is the second oldest state park in the California State Parks system, located approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Burney, California. The park offers camping, fishing, watersports, hiking and horseback riding facilities. The park is mainly known for the lovely waterfall, Burney Falls, at the entrance of the park. Wildlife in the park includes bass, trout, Steller’s jay, squirrels, woodpeckers, deer, and on rare occasion, black bear.
Driving north, the massive Mount Shasta will put you in a trance, as this 14,162-foot high volcanic mountain dominates the horizon for miles. It has been called California’s version of Mount Fujiyama, and the comparison is apt. Shasta is the second highest volcano in the United States and though it is dormant now, it is not dead. Among the wonders you will see in this area is Castle Crags, an almost surreal arrangement of towering spires easily viewed from the road. Arms of Shasta Lake meander deep into the mountains along the route, shining for mile after unexpected mile. Mt. Shasta, Dunsmuir and McCloud are three small towns nestled at the foot of Mount Shasta within a very picturesque drive of each other. Visit each, to shop, dine, and sightsee.
Next stop will be the grasslands of Butte Valley, a valley of approximately 80,000 acres located at the northern tip of California, nestled between the slopes of Mt. Shasta to the south and the Great Klamath Basin on the North. The Klamath Basin straddles the California – Oregon border, making a nice transition between the two states.
The vistas are a dramatic photo opportunity as you drive into Oregon; large pronghorn antelope herds can be seen, as well as abundant bald and golden eagles, red tailed hawks and pelicans. Sandhill cranes nest on the grasslands. Just a short drive from here, the Lava Beds National Monument lets you explore a multitude of caves and see for yourself how volcanos disperse lava for miles.
Visiting the nearby wildlife refuge areas will put you in the middle of the world famous Pacific Flyway and the Klamath Basin. This is home to the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the lower 48 states.
In the distance you can see Klamath Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Rocky Mountains. As you are driving ?you will skirt this amazing lake, showing you bar none views of land and wildlife. Klamath Lake is a premier birding site known nationally and internationally. The lake is the largest body of freshwater west of the Rockies. (Klamath Falls has the only Arnold Palmer designed golf course in Oregon, at the The Running Y Ranch, a resort that offers fractional ownership as well as WorldMark the Club’s timeshare.)
Canoe access at Rocky Point on Pelican Bay will let you explore the Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge. Fort Klamath offers a unique night’s stay at one of the local innkeepers, and recreational opportunities such as hiking or biking at the Wood River Wetlands.
At the center of an old growth forest, Crater Lake National Park is the crown jewel of the byway. The “blueness” of the country’s clearest, deepest lake on a sunny day is awe-inspiring and it is absolutely breathtaking in winter when the rim is covered with snow. While the park is accessible year-round, a drive around the rim is only possible during the summer after the snow has melted. Crater Lake is a family must, with camping, trails, boat rides and exploring or a restful retreat at the historic lodge.
No matter what your passion: golfing, rafting, birding, sailing, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, snow-skiing, canoeing, hiking or sight seeing, The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All American Road’s remarkable natural diversity holds the promise of exciting adventures.
Some information for this article was provided courtesy of Klamath County Tourism & Visitors Center (http://www.co.klamath.or.us) and Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All American Road (http://www.volcaniclegacybyway.org/ )
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