About Surprise Valley, California
It's easy to understand why the area's first
Native American settlers referred to this area by the phrase
"The Smiles of God". With 70 percent of Modoc County remaining
publicly owned, much of the forest, mountain and high desert
areas haven't changed a great deal since the Paiute, Pit River
("Achumawi"), and Modoc tribes were its only inhabitants.
Today, visitors will find no scarcity of
recreational opportunities such as camping, fishing, hiking,
cross-country skiing, hunting, wind sailing on dry lake beds,
and a variety of other outdoor pursuits awaiting them in any of
our four distinct seasons.
Spring brings wildflowers and soaring eagles.
It is a time when children gear up new 4-H projects as they look
ahead to June's Junior Livestock Show, and squirrel hunters
descend on local ranches where they perform a useful service
while having great fun.
During our relatively mild summers, residents
and visitors alike move to the faster rhythms of busy ranch and
community life, partake of plentiful recreational activities,
and anticipate one of the year's highlights - hosting the Modoc
District Fair in August.
The cooler days of autumn usher in vibrant
color changes in native foliage, school busses resume their
far-flung routes, and hopeful hunters find a warm welcome,
affordable lodging, and hearty fare in local restaurants.
When the last hay has been baled and wild
geese in flight fill the skies with their lonely calls, winter's
peace blankets the valley and it takes on the special beauty of
this quiet season.
May We Suggest?
Once the snow has melted and back-country
roads are safe to navigate, first-time visitors with a sense
of adventure are urged to pick up a brochure at the BLM office
in Cedarville, pack up a picnic lunch, and head off to experience
the rugged beauty of the Great Basin. Just east of the valley,
take the self-guided 93-mile Surprise Valley-Barrel Springs
Byway. During your drive, you just might run into a herd of wild mustangs, elk or antelope.
Eons ago, this area of the Great Basin was
covered by ancient Lake Surprise, leaving it particularly rich
in geologic history. Research teams from a variety of
universities have gathered to study its mysteries in recent
Rock hounds, photographers, amateur geologists
and sightseers will all delight in the area's impressive rock
formations and may discover obsidian deposits, opals, fossils,
or preserved signs of the valley's early settlers as they
explore the vast stretches of uninhabited country nearby.
Steaming hot springs and other signs of active geothermal
activity dot the valley as well.
If you visit us on a winter weekend, check to
see if the Cedar Pass Ski Hill, with its T-bar rope tow and
groomed slopes, is open.
For more suggestions on outdoor activities in
Modoc County and Surprise Valley, please check out the
information found on this web site under "Recreation".
Come Visit Us!
ANY time is a great time to come visit us in
our special corner of paradise! We hope that our website
will assist you in planning a memorable vacation or lay the
foundation for future relocation.
Further information, maps, brochures, squirrel
tee shirts, sweatshirts, our cookbook celebrating generations of
local cooks, and other Surprise Valley memorabilia and
information may also be picked up at our office, located in the
Surprise Valley Realty Office at 507 Main Street in Cedarville.
So plan a visit today to "Where the Pavement
Ends and the West Begins!" And remember, while you're out and
about in Surprise Valley, please join in one of our most
pleasant local traditions. When driving along valley roads, it
is customary to greet other drivers, horseback riders, joggers
or even the town mutt with a friendly wave and a smile!