Established as a national monument chiefly for its geological and scientific value, Lava Beds is also significant as the principal battleground of the Modoc War of 1872-73. In a twisted, almost impregnable volcanic fortress that came to be known as Captain Jack’s Stronghold, a handful of Modocs held off a sizable force of U.S. soldiers for six months. Modoc leader, Kintpuash know as Captain Jack, shot and killed General Edward R.S. Canby during a peace conference on April 11, 1873. Captain Jack ultimately surrendered. He and the chief conspirators of the slaying of Canby were executed.
The Modoc's Murder of General Canby. Photo from the book, Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars, by Jerry Keenan.
Operating Hours & Seasons
Lava Beds National Monument is always open to visitors. The visitor center hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during winter season and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during summer season (closed Christmas Day).
Modoc Indians in the lava beds awaiting the attack. Photo from the book, Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars, by Jerry Keenan.
Visitors travelling south on Highway 139 (from Oregon) will see signs four miles south of Tulelake directing them into Lava Beds. Visitors travelling north on Highway 139 (from Alturas) will see signs 27 miles north of Canby directing them into Lava Beds.
No public transportation is available
Personal vehicle, bicycle, walking, hiking