Modoc National Forest

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About Modoc National Forest

Spanning more than one and a half MILLION glorious acres (yes, you read that right, the official count is actually 1,654,392), Modoc is situated in the majestic and mysterious volcanic territory of Northern California. Known for its distinctive landscape contrasts and truly wild camping areas, this park spans mountains, pine forests and meadows, lakes, streams, soaring canyons and mystical wetlands, otherworldly lava beds and stark, high desert plateaus. Truly exquisite, it is the perfect place to go if you are looking to wander and lose yourself in some of California’s most rural and striking wilderness.

Campgrounds in Modoc

Big Sage Campground
Big Sage Campground is partially shady, surrounded by juniper woodland and sagebrush near Rattlesnake...
Willow Creek Campground
Willow Creek Campground is located conveniently near the highway, but the dense trees block out...
Blue Lake Campground
Blue Lake Campground is situated on a hill overlooking the beautiful Blue Lake. Campsites here are...
Emerson Campground
Emerson Campground sits in a forested spot of the South Warner Wilderness near the banks of Emerson...
Pepperdine Campground
Pepperdine Campground sits in a serene area shaded by the forest canopy. Horse corrals and great...
Stough Reservoir Campground
The shady Stough Reservoir Campground sits at an elevation of 6,200 feet, offering respite from hot...
Reservoir C Campground
Welcome to Devil’s Garden in the heart of the mile-high Modoc Plateau. Reservoir C Campground is quiet...
Mill Creek Falls Campground
Mill Creek Falls Campground sits in a dense pine forest in the South Warner Wilderness above the Jess...
Payne Springs Campground
Payne Springs Campground is a shady spot in the Medicine Lake Highlands near Paynes Creek. Attractions...
Lassen Creek Campground
Josh: This dispersed campground is near an outcropping of obsidian called Rainbow Mine. Get yourself some...
East Creek Campground
East Creek Campground is an equestrian campground, but visitors without horses can camp here, too. At...
Medicine Campground
Medicine Campground sits in the highlands on beautiful Medicine Lake. You’ll have great views of...
Jane's Reservoir Campground
Jane’s Reservoir Campground is known for its beauty and solitude. The campground is partly shady and...
Ash Creek Campground
Ash Creek Campground sits at a lower elevation than others in the region, so it opens earlier in the...
Lower Rush Creek Campground
Lower Rush Creek Campground is a secluded spot conveniently located one mile from the highway. The...
Red Tail Rim Trail South Trailhead/Campground
Calling all hikers, bikers, and equestrians! The Red Tail Rim Trail South Campground is a great spot...
Howard's Gulch Campground
Howard’s Gulch Campground sits in a tree-lined gulch in Modoc National Forest. Set back from the...
A.H. Hogue Campground
A. H. Hogue Campground is the largest and most spacious campground on Medicine Lake, so bring your...
Blanche Lake Campground
Blanche Lake Campground is a shady, secluded spot sitting on the banks of the tiny lake. The nearby...
Bullseye Lake Campground
Bullseye Lake Campground sits in a quiet, shady spot on the banks of the small Bullseye Lake. Bring...
Headquarters Campground
If you’re looking for a quiet, secluded camping spot on beautiful Medicine Lake, Headquarters...
Hemlock Campground
Hemlock Campground is in the Medicine Lake Highlands on the shores of the lake. This is an ideal spot...
Schonchin Springs Campground
Schonchin Springs Campground is a quiet spot located one mile from Medicine Lake. It is more secluded...
Patterson Campground
Patterson Campground is a small family site perfect for tents, and small trailers or RVs. Horses are...
Soup Springs Campground
No soup for you! Just kidding, Soup Springs Campground is for everyone! This family campground in a...


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Hipcamper Josh

This dispersed campground is near an outcropping of obsidian called Rainbow Mine. Get yourself some dragon glass!

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Hipcamper Hipcamper

Modoc is home to Petroglyph Point , which is one of the coolest (and largest) pieces of Native American rock imagery in the US.

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Hipcamper Hipcamper

The temperature range is pretty intense here, 100 degrees in the summer and 35 below in the winter, so be prepared and definitely pack the right clothing.

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Hipcamper Hipcamper

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the avian wildlife: Modoc National Wildlife Refuge is a stopover for birds on the Pacific Flyway .

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History of Modoc National Forest

The Modoc National Forest has a very short history (just a little over 100 years) in comparison to the Native people who have lived here and loved this land for thousands of years. These early prehistoric people are the ancestors of America. Their story is everyone's story. A story that deserves to be told and embraced by all Americans. A Nation without a past is like a person without a memory.

No one today knows what the first people to settle in this area called themselves. Over time these early folks became the Native American tribes that still occupy the area today: the Modoc, the Pit River or Achomawi, and the Northern Paiute.

All three of these groups led a “hunter & gatherer” lifestyle. They subsisted off of the natural foods available to them – wild game, fish and fowl, and edible plants. All of these food resources they hunted and gathered on an annual cycle from the lakes, rivers, wetlands, mountains, plateaus, and valleys of the area. Winters were spent in main village locations where collected food was stockpiled. During most of the spring, summer, and fall, these people roamed across their territories harvesting wild plant and animal resources as they became available.

They used natural “tool stone” such as obsidian to make knives, spear points and arrow points, and basalt to make plant grinding/processing tools such as metates and manos and mortars and pestles. Their winter villages usually had substantial semi-subterranean houses to keep them warm, and used temporary shelters, some with “rock rings” for foundations, for their seasonal rounds collecting food stuffs. In some places these folks made “rock art” – petroglyphs (rock carvings) or pictographs (rock paintings), and rock stacks or cairns. Some of these locations were special places where they might wish for luck or pray.

Starting in 1826 Euro-Americans entered the Modoc County area. The first were fur trappers and explorers for the Hudson’s Bay Company and the young United States. These were followed by emigrant settlers heading to Oregon along the Applegate Trail in 1846, and settlers and gold miners heading to California along the Lassen Trail in 1848-1849. Vestiges of these early emigrant trails are still visible across the area, part of the Emigrant Trails Scenic Byway and marked by the Oregon-California Trails Association.

In 1872-1873 the Modoc War took place in the vicinity of Tule Lake and the current Lava Beds National Monument. Here the Modoc leader, Captain Jack, and about 57 warriors, kept the US military at bay for several months in the rough lava country. General E.R.S. Canby was killed during the conflict – the only regular Army general ever killed during the 19th century period of Indian Wars.

Today there are remnants not only of emigrant trails and battlefields, but of early settlements and prehistoric sites as well. These sites are all protected by federal law.
The Federal Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 protect artifacts and sites on public lands. They belong to all the citizens and are not to be removed for personal souvenirs. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended) that states, in part, “…that the historic and cultural foundations of the Nation should be preserved as a living part of our community life and development in order to give a sense of orientation to the American people”.