In the age of Coronavirus, social distancing has become the norm, with limited contact, donning protective gear and avoiding groups. But that doesn’t mean your weekend (or vacation!) is doomed. Just get a little creative. Luckily, Siskiyou has tons of wilderness and meandering roads to escape the grind. You’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourself.
Here are some “socially-distanced approved” activities to consider!
Located in the picturesque Shasta Valley, North Siskiyou offers historic charm and vast outdoor beauty. One of the best ways to experience that is at the Shasta Valley Wildlife Refuge. Relatively little-known, the Shasta Valley Wildlife Refuge is mostly only appreciated by anglers and birders. But, if you have a kayak you’ll feel like you have the lake to yourself! There is also a great path along the shore of Trout Lake with commanding views of Mount Shasta and little Shasta Valley.
Or, grab a picnic lunch from any of nearby Yreka or Montague’s great selection of restaurants. Then, combine it with a trip to the nearby Living Memorial Sculpture Garden – an exceptional 136-acre art installation and war memorial along Highway 97. It is a place of incredible beauty and austerity that demands reflection, all under the shadow of Mt. Shasta’s majesty. For the super adventurous, check out Pluto’s Cave around the corner, an explorable lava tube where visitors can hike approximately 1200 feet into the cave. Permits are not required to enter the cave, but come prepared with warm clothing, sturdy, non-skid shoes and a flashlight.
Surrounded by evergreen trees, mountain views, waterfalls and majestic Mt. Shasta, South Siskiyou is a wild escape that will clear the mind and rejuvenate the spirt. Many people are called to the mountain and summer can get busy at easy-to-reach places like McCloud Falls, Hedge Creek Falls, Lake Siskiyou, and Bunny Flat. For some distance, try exploring the nearby Castle Crags!
The Castle Crags are an estimated 170 million years old. Their impressive 6000-feet tall granite spires having inspired many enduring myths and legends. The fact that they are granite also makes them very different from much of the volcanic landscape Siskiyou is known for, like a slice of Yosemite without the crowds. There are both the Castle Crags Wilderness and the Castle Crags State Park, where 28 miles of hiking trails of varying levels means everyone can enjoy this natural wonder. It’s also six miles from the charming railroad town of Dunsmuir, filled with great restaurants and to-go options. For more inspiration on visiting “The Crags,” read about blogger Tammy Strobel’s everyday adventure on Castle Dome Trail here.
NOTE: To see current status on trailheads, it’s a good idea to call ahead to the Mt. Shasta Ranger Station for information on the Shasta-Trinity Forest. (530) 926-4511. You can also visit here and use the “Find Your Forest or Grassland” tool on the left-hand side of the page. Also, please recreate responsibly. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited at this time. High risk activities such as rock climbing or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided.
West Siskiyou is Bigfoot Country – and if Bigfoot can manage to stay socially-distanced there, so can you! Spend the day exploring the Klamath River on a kayak or whitewater raft. Spend the night stargazing under one of the most pristine night skies in California. If you’ve got at least a few days to spare, you should take advantage of a multi-day excursion at the Marble Mountain Ranch, where they’re taking extra precautions during these times to make sure you contact is mostly limited to the group you come with. Go on trail rides, take a guided white water rafting or fishing trip, and dine outside. You’ll feel like you have the best of nature – all to yourself!
If time is more limited, you can also visit Scott Valley, starting just 15 minutes west of Yreka off Interstate 5. Bring your road bike and ride the beautiful loop around Quartz Valley or take a scenic drive up to the Etna Summit for some breathtaking views and a little fresh air. On your way back, grab lunch or dinner at patio at the Denny Bar Company Distillery or enjoy the ample patio seating at 5 Marys Burgerhouse in Fort Jones.
Grab a bite for breakfast or a picnic lunch at the Slice of Heaven Café in Dorris then head out to explore the wonderland that is East Siskiyou. Recently the site of a large wildfire, most of the caves remain open to the public but call ahead to see what’s open to explore at the outstanding Lava Beds National Monument (530-667-8113). Or, take to the birds and enjoy the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge! There, pay a visit to the Discovery Marsh Trail across the street from the Visitor’s Center (currently closed to public due to COVID but call for most up-to-date information: (530) 667-2231). The Discovery Marsh Trail is a lovely outdoor place to walk and learn about how agricultural land can be turned back into productive wetland. Even on a quiet day you can expect to see Mule Deer and a variety of birds including white faced Ibis and Great Egrets.
You can also explore the region and part of the Lava Beds National Monument via a free driving audio tour (and ultimate socially distance-approved activity) that highlights the historic hotspots during the Modoc War that was fought in the Lava Beds during 1872-1873. It is narrated by a descendent of one of the Modoc Warriors who fought in the war, and directions and more information on the tour can be found here.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Hire A Local Guide!
By choosing a tour operator or guide that is local, you can get a totally customized tour – and help support our local economy too! Here are links to a few to get you started: Mt. Shasta Fun Guide, Mount Shasta Retreats, Shasta Vortex Adventures, and Shasta Gravity Adventures. If you’re looking for guided fishing tours, ask at the world-famous Ted Fay Fly Shop in Dunsmuir, or check out some of these local guides: Wild Waters Fly Fishing, SC Guide Service, Ironhead Guide Service and Jack Trout Fly Fishing. For a full list of fishing itinerary ideas, visit here.
Go for a scenic drive.
Here are some ideas. Plus, they’re EV-friendly too so there’s no range anxiety even while trying to go remote!
Take a plunge!
Try out these epic (and mostly extremely remote!) swimming holes.
Pro-Tip: Try visiting during the week or in the shoulder seasons for the ultimate socially-distanced approved vacation! For great places to stay, visit here.
Thank you for being a responsible visitor to Siskiyou. We appreciate it – and you!