Attractions in Alturas, California

by Corr S. Pondent

If you're looking for a vacation spot that offers natural attractions, with some culture and history thrown in, Alturas, California, might be of interest to you. Thanks to its moderate desert climate in northeastern California, the county seat of California's Modoc County has a variety of outdoor recreational offerings such as the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge, which offers hunting and fishing activities, and the Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway. As for cultural activities, there is also the Modoc County Historical Museum.

Modoc National Wildlife Refuge

The Modoc National Wildlife Refuge (, which is located to the south of Alturas, centers around the Pit River. The refuge, which spans more than 7,000 acres, was established in 1961 to aid birds that are migrating, such as ducks and cranes. This refuge also offers hunting and fishing opportunities

Modoc County Historical Museum

Opened to the public in 1968, the Modoc County Historical Museum (no website; 600 S. Main St.; Alturas; 530-233-2944) offers a chance to glimpse various aspects of life in Alturas and the surrounding area. On display at the museum are artifacts such as guns, as well as historical documents. Also on display are aspects of Native American culture and lifestyle and pioneer history in the region.

Volcanic Byway

Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway (, a highway that goes through a volcanic region, offers camping and picnicking opportunities. The route goes close to Medicine Lake Volcano, a large volcano with Medicine Lake at its summit. Visitors can see lava formations, as well as the remnants of lava flows from past eruptions. The scenic byway also goes through other areas that offer a chance to check out wildlife.

Historic Trails

Those with a historic bent of mind will be interested in the Emigrant Trail, a state historic landmark. This trail near the Pit River has the remains of the Lassen Trail, which was in use during the California gold rush. Thousands of people came to California during the gold rush, and as many as 9,000 of them used this trail. Another trail of interest in the Alturas area is the Applegate Trail. Settlers came into the region on the Applegate Trail and were sometimes attacked and killed by Indians.