Description - The Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway traverses an area which includes Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Lava Beds National Monument, and portions of the Klamath, Shasta-Trinity, and Modoc National Forests.
- Besides the mountains of obsidian, visitors can see surface flows of many types of lava that stretch like fingers down the flanks of the volcano, pillow lava where flows entered ancient Tule Lake, and some of the world's most extensive and accessible lava tubes.
People have been attracted to the area for thousands of years because of its rich resources. Inhabitants from both prehistoric and historic times have left behind a rich cultural heritage of sites around the volcano.
The area has abundant wildlife with annual spring and fall migrations of waterfowl and raptors that use the Tulelake area as a resting stop on the Pacific Flyway.
The route is part of a major inter-forest travel way. The majority of the route is paved; the remaining sections are surfaced with an aggregate material and suitable for RV and auto travel. These roads wind through managed forests, past waterfalls on the McCloud River, through the Klamath Basin Wildlife Area and skirt the volcanic features, providing an opportunity to explore the Medicine Lake Highlands at a leisurely pace along the way to other popular features in the region.
At the summit of the volcano lies Medicine Lake, a beautiful place to picnic, camp, fish and explore. Recent lava flows, obsidian glass flows and large domes of pumice material blanket the area.
Recreation - The Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway is known for it's historical, natural, recreational and scenic attractions.
Climate - The variable climate ranges from warm, dry summers to cold, severe, moderately wet winters. Temperatures range from highs of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a few weeks intermittently each summer, although they can drop to below freezing every month of the year. Winter temperatures reach as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit, although common daytime temperatures rise to the 30's and 40's. Approximately 13 inches of annual precipitation falls primarily as rain and about 25% as snow. Prevailing southwest breezes below daily clearing the air and bringing frequent weather changes.
The north end of this byway leads from Hwy. 139, on the Oregon/California border, south of Klamath Falls, OR and north of Tulelake, CA. The south end of the byway is in McCloud, CA on Hwy. 89, east of Mt. Shasta. Beginning at the southern end in McCloud, the byway follows the McCloud River, goes through the Medicine Lake Highlands, Lava Beds National Monument, and then Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge, before joining California Highway 139, north of Tulelake.