TULELAKE TO KLAMATH FALLS – WHAT TO EXPECT
Just south of the California – Oregon state boundary, Highway 161 leads east on a side trip of remarkable wonder. Along Highway 161, also known as Stateline Road, you’ll follow the Oregon and California border, where fertile farmlands provide a window on the importance of the agricultural community alongside the natural wonders of the region as the road passes the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and Tule Lake Wildlife refuge areas – both of which provide excellent car access and bird and wildlife viewing opportunities. Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge holds the honor of being America’s first waterfowl refuge, established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.
The byway turns on Highway 39 and enters the community of Tulelake. Exploring town via Main Street, travelers can experience the rich history of vernacular architecture, small shops and visitor services, as well as the Tulelake-Butte Valley Museum at the Tulelake-Butte Valley Fairgrounds. Tulelake is also home to the Tule Lake National Monument, that includes both the Tule Lake Segregation Center, the largest and most controversial of the sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II, and Camp Tulelake, which was first a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, then an additional facility to detain Japanese Americans, and finally a prisoner of war camp.
But the absolute crown jewel of this region and one of the most magnificent stops along the Byway is the Lava Beds National Monument. This fully staffed park offers many lava tube caves and trails, with hands-on opportunities to explore the geological wonders of the area. Check out the famed Cave Loop for the easiest access, as well as the Visitor Center. The Monument also offers hikes to significant sites of Native American history, such as Captain Jack’s Stronghold, site of the Modoc Indian War in 1873. To dive deep into the Modoc history, take a free self-guided audio tour narrated by a descendent of one of the Modoc warriors who fought along Captain Jack. Information and download can be found here. Camping is available at the Monument and summer programming often includes night star viewing parties.