Lava Beds National Monument Scenic Drive Professional Guide
Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook
"A forty-mile-long drive that makes an open loop through Lava Beds National Monument, passing cinder cones, vast lava flows, lava tube caves, the site of the Modoc Indian War, and the wetlands of Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The Lava Beds National Monument scenic drive traverses forty miles of wild country on the edge of the Modoc Plateau of northeastern California. It’s a rare landscape of spreading lava flows studded with black cinder cones, a once-violent land filled with the silent sound and fury of recent volcanism. The Modoc Plateau, covering all of northeastern California, is the southern part of the greater Columbia Plateau. This immense 200,000-square-mile area encompasses eastern Oregon and parts of Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, as well as California. The Columbia Plateau built up over the last thirty million years as a long succession of lava flows, pouring out of surface vents and fissures. It flooded the land with thousands of feet of basalt and rhyolite and left only high peaks and volcanoes poking island-like above the sea of lava. The flows varied from 10 to 200 feet in thickness. Geologists estimate that more than 100,000 cubic miles of lava formed the plateau. While ancient stair-stepped lava plateaus surround Lava Beds National Monument, the flows and cones seen here are much more recent. The Callahan lava flow in the monument’s southwestern corner is only 1,100 years old, while others formed in the last 100,000 years. Special attractions: Lava Beds National Monument, Lava Beds Wilderness Area, Cave Loop Road, lava tube caves, Schonchin Butte, Schonchin Lava Flow, Devil’s Homestead Lava Flow, Modoc War historic sites, Captain Jack’s Stronghold, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Modoc National Forest, petroglyphs, wildlife, waterfowl, hiking, backpacking, caving, and camping. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more."