Touring the Byway
7 Days / 6 Nights | Gateway City: Klamath Falls, Oregon
We recommend starting your journey in Klamath Falls, where you can learn about the town and discover why it’s considered “Oregon’s City of Sunshine.” Take a Downtown Walking Tour to locate the Pelicans on Parade, Bird Boxes, and historic murals that dot the city, dig deeper into the area’s history at the Favell Museum and Klamath County Museum, and take a step back in time at the Baldwin Hotel Museum before staying at a hotel surrounded by endless natural wonders.
On Day Two, you’ll begin your drive on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway as you cross into California and travel to Tulelake, a city that sits at the intersection of geologic and American history. See the Tulelake-Butte Valley Fairgrounds and History Museum to learn of the town’s agricultural origins, pause for a moment of reflection at the Tule Lake National Monument, and explore the rugged landscape and high desert wilderness of Lava Beds National Monument. Spend the night in a historic lodge. The next day, Day Three, you’ll continue following the Byway to the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, two significant migratory bird locations. Spend the evening in Klamath Falls and get back on the Byway in the morning.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
The Tule Lake National Monument brings increased understanding of the high price paid by some Americans during the second World War. There are two sites of historical importance within this National Monument. First, the Tule Lake Segregation Center, the largest and most controversial of the ten concentration camps constructed in 1942 by the United States government to incarcerate Japanese Americans during World War II. The second site is Camp Tulelake, a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp that first imprisoned Japanese Americans and later detained German and Italian prisoners of war until it closed in 1946. The public cannot access the camp unless on a guided tour, but several buildings can be viewed from the road.
This National Monument pays homage to the geological and historical turmoil this part of the country has experienced over the past half-million years. Thanks to volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano, the landscape is rugged, dotted with diverse volcanic features, and home to more than 800 caves strewn about the high desert wilderness. Explore Native American history through rock art and archeological sites like Petroglyph Point, learn about the Modoc War of 1872-73, and discover the colorful characters that populated this area like early cave explorer J.D. Howard and Prohibition-era moonshiners who set up stills in the remote caves. Highlights of Lava Bed National Monument include Symbol Bridge and Big Painted Cave, Hidden Valley and Mammoth Crater, and Captain Jack’s Stronghold, the fortress of lava rock where the Modoc Indians made a stand for their homeland and refused to be relocated to a reservation.
This 15-mile scenic drive will get you up close and personal with Mt. Shasta, the second highest peak in the Cascade Mountain Range. An important part of many Native American myths, the Shasta people believed the mountain was created by the Great Spirit who used it to step onto the earth from a hole in the heavens. From 7,858 feet above sea level, the highest point you can reach by car, you will get an incredible view of the mountains and valleys to the west.
Constructed in 1905 as the centerpiece hotel of downtown Klamath Falls, the Baldwin Hotel Museum now features 40 rooms filled with antiques and artifacts. Originally built as a hardware store, the building was converted into a hotel in 1911 that was to be located right across the street from the railroad, when George Baldwin sought to profit from the coming of the railroad. Unfortunately, the railroad was built at the other end of Main Street. Nonetheless, thanks to the hotel’s very unique characteristics of almost all rooms connected in order to create the ability to rent out either one room or an entire suite of rooms, the hotel thrived.
Drive a bonus Byway! Craters, caves, and lava flows are on view on this 60-mile driving loop that includes a portion of the Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway. Highlights of this drive include the historic Harris Spring Forest Service Guard Station, jagged lava flows, dozens of geologically fascinating cinder cones, three different types of craters, natural bridges, mini-volcanoes called spatter cones, giant lava tubes, and Medicine Lake, nestled within the still-active Medicine Lake Volcano and lying at 6,700 feet above sea level. Stop at the Medicine Lake Recreation Area to enjoy fishing, boating, and exploring in a cool and crisp setting you won’t believe is in the middle of a volcano!