Road Trip on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

No vacation is more classic then the great American road trip - and you'll find no better place for it then UpState CA! The scenic beauty of the Shasta Cascade region makes it a hub for scenic drives - the crown jewel of which is the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, an All-American road. The byway shows the unique effect that volcanic activity has had on the landscape of the region, and has stops at some of UpState CA's most iconic landmarks - the perfect road trip!

Day 1

Lava Beds National Monument

Start your trip on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway at Lava Beds National Monument. Old lava flows have left more than 800 caves in the area. The monument is also home to Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields, and a high desert wilderness with a variety of hiking trails.

The caves at Lava Beds are the star of the show however, and there are certainly plenty to choose from! There are opportunities for everyone, from the first-time cave visitor to the experienced spelunker. Or, you can always join a ranger for a guided tour of Fern Cave or the Crystal Ice Cave, some of the most spectacular caves on property. (Available seasonally.)

Mount Shasta

After you've explored Lava Beds National Monument, continue down the byway - this stretch offers spectacular views of Mt Shasta, along with several scenic overlooks that allow you to pull over and snap the perfect photo. Stop for the night in the city of Mount Shasta. The city offers an array of charming shops and eateries, unique bookstores, art galleries, and spiritual centers.

Day 2

McCloud Falls

Day two is all about waterfalls! Head back out on the byway to your first stop of the day - McCloud Falls. There are actually three levels to McCloud Falls: lower, middle and upper, each offering different views. Hiking to each of the falls is relatively easy - each fall is accessible by car and a short walk to the vista point, and there is a path that leads to all three if you feel like a longer hike.

Photo Credit: Discover Siskiyou

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Your next stop is McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. Here you'll find one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Shasta Cascade region. The park's titular waterfall is 129 feet tall and gushes out 100 million gallons of water a day. It's a short hike to the base, or you can view the falls from a wheelchair-accessible overlook. After you've explored the park, stop for the night in the nearby town of Burney.

Day 3

Subway Cave

For the final day of you road trip, head out to Subway Cave. Maintained by the US Forest Service, this lava tube is unusually easy to explore, with ample headroom and a rubble-free floor. The U.S. Forest Service has installed concrete stairs, a trail from the parking lot, and interpretive signs explaining the origins of the cave. This is the largest accessible tube in this flow, and temperatures remain at about 46F year-round. Be sure to take a light jacket and a flashlight.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Your last stop is Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park boasts incredible mountain scenery reminiscent of Yosemite as well as fascinating thermal wonders similar to Yellowstone with just a small fraction of the visitors, making it a favorite of locals and visitors both. You'll find everything from volcanoes, stunning waterfalls, bubbling mud pots, to crystal clear lakes within the park.

After you've finished in Lassen pack up the car for the end of your trip - or if you want to keep the road trip going check out one of the 11 other scenic byways in the Shasta Cascade region. The options are endless in UpState CA!