Klamath Radiates Adventure and is Steeped in Native American History
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The Klamath, California Travel Guide: Things To Do in Klamath
The Klamath, California Travel Guide: Things To Do in Klamath
Klamath radiates adventure and is steeped in Native American history. Rugged coastline and collections of towering redwoods are just the start of your Klamath adventure. Bag a Chinook salmon on the wild waters of the Klamath River. Spy wildlife on an unbelievable jet boat tour. Stay up past your bedtime winning a hand at the casino. Try one tasty margarita at the iconic Steelhead Lodge. Klamath is Old California at its best.
More than a Redwood Forest
For almost three-quarters of a century, the Trees of Mystery has been celebrating the allure of the redwoods. Nestled around all the great redwood parks of California, you will want to carve out plenty of time for this adventure.
Wander to the Cathedral Tree, nine trees that have grown together to form a forest shrine. Get a birds-eye view of the redwoods — and ocean vistas — as the Sky Trail gondola glides you through the treetops in Klamath. For more views, amble across eight suspension bridges dangling 50 to 100-feet in the air while gazing at the Redwood canopy above and below.
Stroll down a trail of tall tales and admire the mythology of Paul Bunyan. You can even chat with him. Standing at 49 feet high and tipping the scale at 30,000 lbs, Paul is a giant talking feature at Trees of Mystery. He is also accompanied by his trusty blue ox, Babe.
For a real throwback experience, cruise through the Klamath Tour Thru Tree. Fold in your mirrors and prep the camera for an unconventional California ritual of squeezing your vehicle (or rolling your bike or motorcycle) through a gigantic redwood. This is one of few drive-thru redwood tree spots left in California, so don’t miss it!
Visit the Old Douglas Memorial Bridge for a warming slice of local legend. Built in 1926 over the Klamath River, the archway features two eight-ton California Bears. The Great Christmas Flood of 1964 wiped out the bridge but the bears survived. Locals began painting the concrete guardians gold around that time and for years, crews would remove the paint. The bears never went long without another golden makeover. Eventually, officials embraced the upgrade and they remain a fun roadside highlight along Highway 101.
Share a thrill ride with your favorite people on Klamath Jet Boat Tour. You’ll dash, spin and amble 45 miles up the Klamath River with an expert guide sharing the rich history of the area including the native Yurok tribe. You may also get the picture of a lifetime on one of the photo op stops. Wildlife is commonly seen on the tours including bears, cougars, bald eagles and ospreys.
Redwood Canoe Tours
Paddle in a traditional dug-out canoe called an ohl-we-yoch down the serene Klamath River where you’ll hear ancient stories of the Yurok people who have inhabited the area since the 14th century. Your tour begins with a shuttle ride up river to the put-in. From there you’ll glide towards the mouth of the river where the Klamath meets the Pacific Ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for the abundant wildlife in and out of the water, including resident whales.
A Farmhouse in Disguise
Walk along Klamath Beach Road to see the Radar Station B-71 bunker that’s disguised to look like an old farmhouse and barn. Radar Station B-71 is one of 65 sites that were operated along the Pacific Ocean after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. These wartime radar defense bunkers dotted the Pacific Ocean under the guise of a family farmhouse. There were two machine-gun pits with anti-aircraft mounts. The Redwoods National Park restored this site in 1978 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as America’s last coastal radar station.
Go Wild, See Wild (Life)
When rivers, oceans and redwood collide, it’s easy to spy both land and sea life. Jet boat tours are one of the best ways to view the area’s menagerie such as hawks, bald eagles, golden eagles, deer and elk. But that is just the beginning.
Check out Klamath River Overlook, and be sure to pack a picnic. This unbeatable vista plunks you right where the river flows into the ocean. Bald eagles, hooded mergansers, loons and cormorants glide above you. With a sandwich in one hand and binoculars in the other you may catch a glimpse of both resident and migrating whales. Some spectacular seaside hiking is also nearby like the California Coastal Trail (CCT). Keep reading for the scoop on trails.
For first-rate elk observation, pack up the car and take the Bald Hills scenic drive through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Wind along old-growth ogres and then make a pit stop when you hit the sprawling prairies. Your gaze will drift between Roosevelt elk and rolling fields of lupine. The keenest onlooker may even catch a glimpse of a black bear.
A Paradise of a State Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods National & State Park
The wildlife is just one of many captivating gems within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This park is a #nofilter frolic. Camp under the stars at Elk Prairie campground and wander the nearby trails to see grazing elk in the early daylight. Gold Bluff Beach on Davison Road in another campsite known for wildlife. It’s not every day you can pitch a tent on the beach. Sharing a campfire on the sandy shoreline will ignite your spirit.
Just a little ways up Davidson Road you’ll discover the unbeatable Fern Canyon, a 1-mile loop trail. Wander through a lush canyon that feels almost prehistoric with thriving moss and giant ferns. In fact, The Lost World: Jurassic Park had scenes filmed in Fern Canyon. For a longer option, start at the James Irvine trail at the park’s visitor center. Prairie Creek has more than 75 miles of hiking trails. For a lot of scenery packed into one easy trail, start at the aptly named Prairie Creek trail – which also starts at the visitor center. It turns into Big Tree Loop as you amble around a gushing creek past moss-draped trees into an immense grove of redwood giants.
For those with a furry travel companion, trot down the Cal Barrel Road trail. A 3.5-mile out-and-back, the quiet dirt road bends around an outstanding old-growth forest. For something extra special, turn left at the Foothill Trail sign and walk just a bit to see Iluvatar, Prairie Creek’s largest tree and it’s the 16th largest tree in the world. This behemoth soars to a remarkable 300 feet.
Fun fact: Iluvatar gets its name from J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology. Eru Iluvatar is known as the deity of Middle-earth.
Bike Ride Rapture
Prairie Creek State Park also features some great biking options. For a ride that is low on the technical side but high on the scenic side, cruise Ossagon Trail Loop. It runs 19 miles through woodlands, prairie, and rugged coastline on a combination of gravel and paved roads. Part of the trail connects to the California Coastal Trail, an ever-growing multi-use trail system that will eventually connect the entire California coast.
Near the Elk Prairie campground is the Davidson Trail. The trailhead starts at Elk Meadow Day Use Area. Roam through alder trees and over tranquil creeks on this shared hiking/biking trail. You can also connect up with longer trails like Lost Man Creek.
Beaches and Hiking Trails You Won’t Forget
We also promised you some spectacular seaside trails. Start at Klamath Overlook and let the California Coastal Trail lead you north to Hidden Beach and Lagoon Creek Beach. Hidden Beach is a quiet cove nestled on a tree-lined hill. North of Lagoon Creek Beach, you’ll discover False Klamath cove. The dark gray sand, jagged sea stacks and knotty driftwood will leave you in a sense of wonder. If you have a pair of sturdy shoes on, check out the tide pools at low tide.
Continue your adventure just north of False Klamath to Wilson Beach. Watch for osprey and cormorants as you set up lunch on the convenient picnic tables and BBQ grills. The diversity of the green cliffs and rocky shore makes for an incredible backdrop.
For something short and sweet, take the Yurok Loop Trail. The trailhead begins at Lagoon Creek Picnic Area right off Highway 101. It winds over a small ridge and provides a striking ocean overlook. This trail is just one of many that overlap with the California Coastal Trail.
Ocean and River Recreation
The waters around Klamath are diverse and renowned. Klamath River is a federally protected gem and the second largest river in California. The rich water is home to Chinook and coho salmon, as well as steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. Salmon climb through the scenic rapids June through October and steelhead tread June through February.
Enlist the help of an experienced guide service like Wild River Fishing. Pack a license, a lunch and a camera and leave the rest to the experts. Or hook your own strong-willed prize using one of Klamath River’s public boat ramps including Roy Rook, Old Townsite, or Requa Resort at the mouth of the river. Sweep the pristine waters with your oar on a canoe tour, floating by thirsty wildlife and thick forest growth.
Savor the salty air on a day full of fun at the beach where the Klamath River meets the Pacific. Play in the sand, spy wildlife and fish off the shore for Red Tail Perch.
The Legacy of the Yurok: Native American Culture in Klamath
For millennia, indigenous people and tribes relied on this water, including Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, Shasta and Klamath tribes. Today the Yurok tribe is California’s largest with nearly 5,000 members. Diseases and violence from white settlers wrecked their population. The tribe has worked tirelessly to regain lands and preserve their culture. The abundant resources of the Klamath area allowed the Yurok tribe to channel expert craftsmanship and skill. They are known as great fishermen, basket weavers, woodworkers, healers and dancers. Yurok are also known for vibrant ceremonies like the Deerskin Dance, Flower Dance and Boat Dance. The towering redwood forests play an important role in their livelihood. Skilled tribespeople built canoes and sweathouses from these sacred beings. Yurok canoed all along the Klamath River, fishing and gathering the many foods and resources of the area.
For both an education and a celebration, visit the museum at the Yurok Country Visitor Center. Hear the challenges of preserving the Yurok language and culture. Get a deeper look into their spirited traditions and handmade artifacts. Listen to a presentation on the Yurok’s inspiring history. The visitor center also features artisan jewelry, tribal crafts and other souvenirs.
Each August, the community celebrates the annual Klamath Salmon Festival, honoring one of the area’s most precious resources and where you can feast on salmon at the largest Salmon celebration in California. Observe the finesse of basket weaving. Witness history in action during the highly competitive Stick Game Tournament, a full-contact sport that resembles lacrosse with a wrestling element. With cultural demonstrations, kids’ activities, delicious food and music, this free celebration does not disappoint.
A Refuge in the Redwoods for Eats & Drinks
Yurok hospitality extends to the Redwoods Hotel and Casino. Situated inside the Redwoods National & State Parks, it is a wellspring of rest and recreation. Get lucky on Vegas-style slots in the comfort of their smoke-free casino. Spend the day exploring majestic forests or craggy coastline and then chill patio side at the cozy yet contemporary Abalone Bar and Grill. Upgrade your accommodations and sleep like a baby in the newly-built adjoining hotel.
Abalone Bar and Grill is a cozy yet contemporary dining experience within the Redwood Hotel and Casino. Savor local wild-caught Klamath River salmon or a hand-cut steak. Take your morning easy and enjoy Abalone’s signature Redwood Bloody Mary with bacon, pickled delights, a prawn and topped with a decadent beef jerky straw.
If you love a good margarita, swing into the Steelhead Lodge for a fish bowl of citrus spirit. They are famous for their margaritas, smoky BBQ and their hospitality. This friendly tavern is dripping with local charm. Stop by for some delicious pulled pork and good conversation.
For an unforgettable meal and view, plan to visit the Requa Inn. A century-old bed and breakfast, the unassuming dining room gives way to spectacular meals and a sprawling view of the Klamath River and the Pacific Ocean. In the summer, all produce is locally sourced within 30 miles of the inn and dinners are served family-style. Family owned and operated, Requa’s chef (and son) is committed to both quality and technique. Breakfast is just as delicious with signature items like buttermilk hotcakes with fresh huckleberry syrup and Scottish oatmeal.
Along your adventure, make a pit stop to Paul’s Famous Smoked Salmon just north of Downtown Klamath on Highway 101. Take home some local flavor with smoked salmon jerky – get it candied or seasoned with Lemon Pepper.
Within the tranquility of the redwood forests and ocean waves, you’ll discover endless adventure in Klamath, California. With river rides, wildlife, fishing, hiking, biking, tribal history, dining and gaming, the fringe of Old California is calling