Lassen County
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Visitor Guide
530-365-7500 or Toll Free: 1-800-474-2782
Hwy 97 Klamath Falls, CA 95548
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The 140 mile segment of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway – All American Road was the first portion of the byway dedicated by the Federal Highway Administration in 1997. The beginning of this segment of the byway on the Oregon/California border has an immediate opportunity for a short side trip. The Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge just to the west of Hwy. 97 is home to a significant portion of the bald eagles who visit the refuge each winter. Back on the byway and continuing north on Hwy. 97, the City of Klamath Falls is just a few minutes away. In its 135 year history, it has had several boom cycles. One of the early dreams of the residents of Klamath Falls was being connected to the rest of America by railroad. This eventually happened with the first train arriving in 1909. Ideally located half way between San Francisco and Portland, it immediately began realizing its potential with the construction by Southern Pacific Railway of the magnificent White Pelican Hotel. The city’s stately new landmark turned Klamath Falls into a playground for wealthy San Franciscans. By the 1930’s a thriving “entertainment industry” had begun to take hold in Klamath Falls. Brothels and saloons attracted many a logger and ranch hand into town on Friday night. Today Klamath Falls is a great place to spend a little time as several museums offer a glimpse of the eclectic history of the area. The Ross Raglin Theater, constructed in the classic art deco style, is a 60 year old landmark in Klamath Falls. Just to the west of Klamath Falls is the Running Y Ranch with Oregon’s number one rated golf course. Upper Klamath Lake located to the east of the byway begins just outside of Klamath Falls. Nearly 30 miles long and eight miles wide, the Upper Klamath Lake is the largest body of freshwater west of the Rockies. Because the lake is so shallow a highly nutritious blue green algae flourishes in the lake. Packed with an amazing range of micro nutrients, the algae is harvested and processed as a food supplement. At the northern end of the lake, the crystal clear water around Pelican Bay is home to a vast population of rainbow trout. Flyfishermen from around the globe catch some of the largest trout on the continent. There are several lake excursion operators offering informative and exciting tours of Upper Klamath Lake. One of these is a new paddle wheeler offering guests a guided tour while they enjoy a sumptuous meal.

While in this area, an interesting side trip which will take just a few minutes on Hwy.140 is Lake of the Woods Resort. Mt. McLaughlin, once an active volcano, looms over the lake. This “nuevo” rustic resort is a great place to stay and the food is excellent. Another wildlife viewing opportunity exists on the north end of the lake, Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1928, the refuge attracts more than 250 species of birds including sandhill cranes, pelicans and bald eagles. If you have enough time, consider renting a canoe at Rocky Point Resort for a tour on the lake.

Your next stop will be at Fort Klamath. Built in 1863, the fort was the first military outpost in the region. A museum, open in the summer, provides an interesting recounting of the antagonism between the settlers coming into the area in the 1860’s and the Native Americans. This finally culminated in the Modoc War of 1872-73. Nearby are the graves of those Indians who were hanged for the murder of General Canby. Among those graves is that of the famous Modoc Indian, Captain Jack. Captain Jack and his men held off the US Army in the Lava Beds south of the state line for over five months, which is one of the most interesting episodes of western American history.

Continuing north on Hwy. 62, which closely follows Annie Creek, is some extremely interesting geology, including ancient fumaroles that have undergone extensive erosion creating chimney-like formations. Super heated gases escaping through vents hardened the soil thousands of year ago. Over time erosion washed away the softer surrounding soil leaving tall irregular shaped chimneys. Geologists have been known to swoon at this sight. You are now at the south entrance of Crater Lake National Park, the next segment of your byway adventure.

 Drive Tips: 
Distance: 80 miles
Minimum Driving Time: 3 hours
Best Time to go: Year-round

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