The Hatchback Haven - Overlanding Subaru
The Hatchback Haven - Overlanding Subaru
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Lava Beds National Monument in California is an inspiring area to visit. It proves that life can flourish amid some of the harshest conditions. Geographically, the area has been shaped by the eruptions from Medicine Lake Volcano, leaving behind a desert wilderness molded by volcanic formations, lava tubes, and over 800 caves. The region also contains one of the largest panels for historic Native American rock art paintings.
Historically, this area offers a number of old battlefields to visit, like the Modoc War of 1872–1873. The lava beds made an excellent stronghold; Captain Jack (leading the Kintpuash) was famed for using it to avoid deportation to the Klamath Reservation in Oregon. The story has many bitter twists in it, with the Native Americans believing they could defeat the European settlers by killing their leaders. Instead, back-up was brought in and the Medoc were rounded up executed for war crimes. Lava Beds National Monument campers can visit Captain Jack’s Stronghold, named in his honor.
All this only scratches the surface of all the exhilarating activities you can enjoy on your Lava Beds National Monument camping excursion. No rig? No problem. Book an RV in Siskiyou County and gear up for a getaway in the beautiful backwoods of Northern California.
A region so rich in both biodiversity and history has a variety of activities to offer both day visitors and those camping at Lava Beds National Park. The highlights are unique to the area. Nowhere else in the world will you find this kind of combination between geological wonders and awe-inspiring history.
Thrillseekers keen to do some caving will find plenty of opportunities here. From the visitors' center, you'll follow a two-mile road known as Cave Loop. This will lead you to the developed caves. Developed caves have ladders, stairways, or other means for easy entry into the cave. A must-see is Mushpot Cave, the only lighted cave of the park's 20 caves. Each cave is categorized according to the difficulty of the most technical part of the cave. The least challenging caves require you to bring a flashlight, good walking shoes, and head protection. The moderately challenging caves have uneven floors and low, stooped roofs. The challenging caves require full protective gear.
If you'd prefer to stay above ground, the park contains 13 hiking routes, each as magnificent as the next. The most popular ones tend to be the shorter trails because they lead to the park's geological and historical highlights. The park recommends you keep water on you at all times in this vast wilderness, and keep an eye open for backcountry dangers, like rattlesnakes. The most popular walks include Heppe Cave Trail, Captain Jack’s Stronghold Trail, Gillem Bluff Trail, and Schonchin Butte Trail. All trails are under a mile long.
While all of the park’s caves are accessible by the general public (provided they have the necessary equipment), some might prefer to take a guided tour. The tours provide insight into the area's history and geology. The highlights include the seasonal Crystal Caves Tour in the winter and spring. This tour is only suitable for adventurers 12 years and older, as it's a strenuous three-hour walk.
About half a mile from the park visitors' center is Indian Well Campground. It offers 43 campsites, a number of which are suitable for motorhome camping. Sites are first-come, first-served and can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 30 feet long.
RV camping at Lava Beds National Monument is primitive. No hookups, showers, or dump stations are available, so make sure to come prepared. The only provisions are restrooms with flush toilets and running water. Generator use is permitted during designated hours. While pets are welcome in the campground, they're prohibited from all trails for safety reasons.
Ready to crank up the camper rental and explore what this quaint, remote corner of the Golden State has to offer? Vast national parks and forests, including Modoc National Forest, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and Lassen National Forest, surround Lava Beds, offering endless outdoor adventures.
Prefer to stay closer to the park? Head over to Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge to do some birdwatching. If you've ever wanted to see a bald eagle, this is the place to do it. Hundreds of these majestic birds flock south from Alaska to Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge each year. History buffs will want to peruse the displays on WWII history at the Tule Lake Unit visitors' center.
You'll find the nearest gas stations northeast along Highway 139, or you can head west to I-5. From here, you can venture south toward Sacramento or north into Oregon to explore the quaint city of Medford.