Things to do in East Siskiyou

Anyone who has ever visited the beautiful East Siskiyou region understands its attraction. Adventure, spectacular views and being one with nature are alluring and difficult to resist.

So stop resisting and plan your next getaway to East Siskiyou, home of fascinating wildlife refuges, accommodating lodging sites, historical museums, and plenty of fun and thrilling activities.

There are a number of towns that comprise East Siskiyou. We’ve highlighted two below – Dorris and Tulelake – both of which offer year-round enjoyment, natural wonders, and important historic moments sure to have visitors both fascinated and contemplative.


The town of Dorris may be small in size, but it makes up for it in big ways. The first city you’ll enter in California when traveling south on Highway 97 from the Oregon border, Dorris was at once the holder of the title “America’s Tallest Flagpole.” In honor of all veterans and active military personnel, the Dorris Lions Club arranged to have a 30-by-60-foot American flag perched on top of a 200-foot pole in 1996, thereby giving the small town a huge record to boast about. Although a Wisconsin insurance company has since taken its place atop the list, the Dorris pole still provides a sense of pride and is a big draw on July 4 and Veterans Day, when the massive 150-pound American flag is lifted.

Mt Shasta Mountain

The Butte Valley Wildlife Area in Dorris is a birdwatcher’s dream. In addition to being an ideal spot for finding a variety of waterfowl, bald eagles and sandhill cranes, it is known for its share of raptors, specifically the Swainson’s Hawk. This particular hawk migrates 12,000 miles each year between the Butte Valley area and Argentina, one of the longest journeys for any raptor. The hawks normally begin arriving in California in February and March and leave anywhere between September and October.

The Butte Valley National Grassland is home to a wide assortment of animals, from lizards and snakes to bobcats and Roosevelt elk. Its official “National Grassland” designation four decades ago provided protection from disposal and destructive uses, and it is now being enhanced primarily for natural use.

Although Juanita Lake is available year-round for trout, catfish and bass fishing, the campground facility is open from approximately April/May to October. Motorless boats, such as canoes and rowboats, are allowed on the 55-acre lake, and a 1.5-mile paved, barrier-free trail circles the lake. Grills, water and picnic accommodations are available at no charge.

Dorris is home to some memorable restaurants serving up small-town hospitality and plenty of local flavors. Among them is El Ranchito, a family-owned Mexican food restaurant located right off of Highway 97. With everything made from scratch, you’ll want to try dishes like the made-to-order burritos or a delicious enchilada plate. You really can’t go wrong, no matter what you choose.

When you’re ready to rest your tired feet or enjoy a good night’s sleep, you’ll find a variety of locations sure to fit any budget. Try the Butte Valley RV Park or the Butte Valley Bed and Breakfast, or book a stay at the Golden Eagle Motel, a three-star motel that’s convenient to the flagpole, city hall and parks. Comfortable rooms, free breakfast and Wi-Fi, microwaves and more make this an ideal resting spot at an affordable price.


Just four miles from the Oregon border is Tulelake, a small Siskiyou County literally built by veterans, as a land lottery was held after World War II. Veterans won 80- and 160-acre plots to prepare for farm land to grow potatoes, onions, grain and other important foods. The area attracted a number of businesses and farm services, as well as families, and Tulelake grew into the successful agricultural community it’s become today.

Nature and history play a large part in drawing visitors to Tulelake. The Lava Beds National Monument combines both attractions in one. Lava tube caves were created by flows of smooth lava between 10,500 and 65,000 years ago, and eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano created rugged landscapes. Developed caves, available for hikers, vary in the level of difficulty, from least to most challenging, so there’s amazing sights ideal for the whole family.

Years ago, the Klamath Basin featured thousands of acres of shallow lakes and freshwater marshes, attracting millions of waterfowl and other water birds. In 1905, the government chose to convert many of these wetlands into agricultural lands. Several years later, President Theodore Roosevelt established the first in a series of national wildlife refuges to conserve the wetlands which remained, resulting in the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, the first such area in the U.S.

Tulelake Wildlife Refuge, Klamath, Siskiyou

A new visitor center recently opened at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. It features self-guided tours, trails that provide beautiful views of the refuge, and a look at the variety of wildlife that makes these places so special.

Any adventurer worth his or her salt would tell you that hiking is the best way to see the countryside and all of its beauty. Fortunately East Siskiyou has an excellent share of adventurous trails to see the land closeup.

The Glass Mountain Trail is one such pathway. Beginning and ending near Tulelake, the moderately challenging 4.9-mile route is excellent for birding, hiking and walking. The views of the sparkling selenite crystals on slopes and mesas are unique, and panoramic views of the Sierra and White mountains are jaw-dropping.

A short but rugged pathway, Captain Jack’s Stronghold Trail is split into two self-guided interpretive routes that tell the history of the Modoc War of 1872-73. Captain Jack (Kintpuash) and his small, yet savvy band of Modoc Indians, held off U.S. Army forces for five months, despite being woefully outnumbered. See rock art and archeological sites that make for a truly unique adventure.






For some travelers, finding the ideal golf course is as much of an adventure as hiking along the area’s trails. Indian Point Golf Course in Tulelake combines the fun and strategy of the game of golf with spectacular views of the Klamath Basin and other landmarks. The 1,500-plus-yard golf course offers nine holes, with both beginning and challenging pathways to accommodate any golfer’s game.

Nearly 120 years ago, Spanish philosopher George Santayana spoke one of history’s most famous and consequential phrases: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The expression has been repeated millions of times, and is appropriate when visiting the Tule Lake National Monument and its place in history. Included at the monument is the Tule Lake Segregation Center, a large facility where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II in the early 1940s. Also featured is Camp Tulelake, originally a Civilian Conservation Corps camp that was converted to an additional detention facility for Japanese Americans, and finally a camp that housed German prisoners of war in the mid 1940s. The Visitor Center is typically open from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend, and ranger-guided tours may be available, although reserving a tour is recommended.


With all that Tulelake has to offer, you’ll want a place to settle in for the night, and the Winema Historic Lodge is an excellent choice. Popular with birders, duck hunters, large family groups and scout troops, the lodge offers motel and large lodge rooms with multiple beds and excellent accommodations.

Experience the magic of East Siskiyou, where adventure awaits at every turn. Start planning your Northern California getaway today and discover the beauty of this enchanting region along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. Don’t forget to sign up for the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway Pass to earn points along your trek and be entered for a chance to win a two-night stay in every participating county! With this pass and the open road ahead of you, the possibilities are endless.


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