Click through to view each of the itinerary’s Highlighted Attractions and download the Detailed Itinerary to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
Legend has it that many years ago, two Klamath gods got into a great fight. Lalo, god of the underworld, lived deep beneath Mount Mazama but fell in love with the Chief ’s beautiful daughter. When she refused his advances, he became angry and hurled fire onto the village from an opening at the top of the mountain. Skell, spirit of the sky, decided to defend the villagers from Lalo’s wrath. A battle ensued, and as Lalo and Skell hurled giant rocks at each other, the earth trembled and landslides of fire spilled from the mountaintops. Lalo was eventually driven back into the underworld and in order to keep him there, Skell covered the opening of Mount Mazama and filled the pit with water. Today, we call that water Crater Lake. One of the best ways to experience this natural wonder is on a drive along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All-American Road, a spectacular 500-mile route that runs from Oregon to California. But that is not the only story this stretch of the Byway has to tell. Millions of years after the mountains and volcanoes emerged from the land, another treasure revealed itself – gold. All it took was one shiny flake for boom towns like Redding and Yreka to spring up overnight with hopefuls in search of a new life and a little bit of gold. From historic Main Streets to museums full of fascinating artifacts, history will come alive right before your eyes as you travel along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.
Calling all wildlife and nature enthusiasts! The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All American Road is a spectacular 500-mile route that runs from Oregon to California, but this stretch of the Byway is a veritable who’s-who of the Pacific Northwest animal kingdom. Over 200 species of birds and dozens of animals like pronghorn antelope, mule deer, river otters, trout, and coyote live on the six National Wildlife Refuges nestled within Oregon’s Klamath Basin region. Thanks to the thousands of acres of grasslands, forests, farms, and wetlands that make up this area, birds like bald eagles, sandhill cranes, pelicans, swans, and falcons have been spotted amongst the trees. In fact, more than 80 percent of all migrating birds stop in the Klamath Basin, and in the spring and fall seasons, migratory waterfowl can number in the millions. Towering cattails, dense tule, aromatic sagebrush, and lush pine forests line the Byway as you venture deep into Northern California to visit towns like Weed, McCloud, and Susanville. Travel back in time with walks down historic Main Streets and let history be your guide as you learn the story of how the railroad and lumber industries played an integral role in the development of these communities. From homemade breakfasts at the local diner to antique furniture in 19th century inns, these cities are big on small-town charm and ready to introduce you to the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.
Imagine a landscape where steam rises up from the ground in sudden bursts, iridescent pools bubble and gurgle, brilliant wildflowers dot the side of towering mountains, and jagged peaks lie as far as the eye can see. No, you’re not on the moon. You’re in Lassen Volcanic National Park! The dramatic scenery surrounding this park tells the tale of the area’s wild geologic history, and there is no better way to hear that story than on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All-American Road, a spectacular 500-mile route that runs from Oregon to California. On this stretch of the Byway, you’ll wind through Lassen Volcanic National Park for 30 stunning miles, and immerse yourself in the surreal world of cracking fumaroles, banging mudpots, and plunging alpine waterfalls. Then, take a deep breath as you leave the sulfurous volcanoes behind and enter the lush pine forests that surround the towns of Chester, Susanville, and Westwood. These historic lumber and mill towns were critical to the development of Northern California and still retain their community pride and small-town charm while serving as a fantastic home base for outdoor adventure activities like hiking, biking, and swimming. Take a dip in a shimmering lake, walk beneath the shade of towering trees, listen for the distant whistle of an eagle flying high overhead, and marvel at the geologic wonders found on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.
Life in the Pacific Northwest was quite different 200 years ago. Most buildings were made out of wood, horse-drawn carriages grappled for space on city streets, and townspeople took bets on when the railroad would arrive and launch the community into modernity. Whispers of this era can still be heard throughout the region, and there is no better place on which to listen to the past than on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All-American Road, a spectacular 500-mile route that runs from Oregon to California. Sitting at the intersection of history and geology, this route tells the tale of cities like McCloud and Mount Shasta, where the burgeoning lumber industry helped create these mill towns practically overnight, and of Tulelake, which played a poignant role in the second World War. But American history is not the only story told on this Byway. Millions of years ago, the land sputtered and cracked and molten lava burst through the ground, creating an otherworldly volcanic landscape dotted with towering mountains, desert caves, natural bridges, and giant lava tubes. This section of the Byway takes you directly to locations like Medicine Lake and Lava Beds National Monument, prime examples of this fascinating geologic era and where you can dip your toes in an alpine lake, thousands of feet above sea level.