Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All-American Road

Millions of years ago, the earth’s plates moved and molten lava exploded between the cracks, spouting high into the sky. All that fire and fury created the Ring of Fire, a circle of volcanoes around the Pacific Ocean, which today in some places is still active – with volcanoes ready to blow. One of the best places in the world to witness the results of this geologic activity is in the area that encompasses Northern California and Southern Oregon, where the landscape is dominated by soaring volcanic peaks, expansive lava flows, dramatic caves, bubbling mud pots, and steaming fumaroles. But the scenery is not the only star of this story. When gold was discovered in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1848, it sparked an international pursuit that brought hundreds of thousands of people to the West and put California on the map. Entire boom towns were built around gold mines, railroads extended their lines, and agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the countryside in order to meet the needs of the new settlers. The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All-American Road intertwines these two stories – one geologic, one historic – by tracing the path of countless old mining towns and five volcanoes: Crater Lake National Park, the deep caldera created by Mount Mazama’s explosive eruption, Mount Shasta, Lava Beds National Monument, Medicine Lake, and Lassen Volcanic National Park. One of only 42 All-American Roads in the United States, this 500-mile Byway travels from Oregon to California and through dense, mountainous forests, broad wetlands, clear streams, and pastoral farms and ranches while whispering tales of the country’s Gold Rush at every turn.

The Ring of Fire

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