Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park
Photo © Ben Miles
Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park is one of the most isolated parks in the California State Park system, and offers visitors spectacular views, abundant wildlife, and peaceful solitude. The 6,000 acre park is located in northeastern Shasta County, in the scenic Fall River Valley.
Ahjumawi is the only state park in California that is only accessible by boat. Much of the Park is covered by relatively recent lava flows which restrict access to the beautiful shoreline of Big Lake. In addition to the natural beauty, the Park also protects invaluable cultural resources, some of which are still used today.
The entire Park is a wilderness area and features diverse wildlife. In particular, Ahjumawi is a birder's paradise with routine visits from several species ranging from bald eagles to pelicans. Fishing in the Fall River Valley is world famous, and Ahjumawi is located within easy access of many phenomenal fishing locations.
Ahjumawi translates to 'where the waters come together,' and the site has been sacred to the Native American people in the area for centuries. Ancient fish traps are evident on several of the small creeks within the Park. The traps are a series of weirs on the creek and were used to trap fish where they could be harvested. Some of these ancient fish traps are still used seasonally by the local Pit River Tribe.
The confluence of Big Lake, the Tule River, Fall River, Ja She Creek, and Lava Creek at Ahjumawi represent one of the largest freshwater spring systems in the world. Springs are prominent along the shore of Big Lake and there are brilliant aqua bays at many.
It is difficult to reach Ahjumawi, but the visitor is rewarded with one of the most unique experiences available in the whole California State Parks system.
The Park can only be reached by boat. From McArthur, turn north off State Route 299 onto Main Street. Pass the Intermountain Fairgrounds and the road will become dirt. Cross over the McArthur diversion canal to a junction; turn right onto Rat Farm Road (there is no sign). Go three miles on the dirt road to the parking area and boat launch. It is a 2.5 mile paddle across the lake to Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park.
Ahjumawi offers visitors almost boundless opportunities for boating, canoeing, or kayaking on Big Lake and the waters adjacent to it. Fishing is great also. A series of hiking trails offers visitors the chance to traverse the scenic shoreline of Big Lake and interior trails offer a taste of the rugged volcanic terrain that so severely limits access to the Park. Ahjumawi is also ideal for birdwatching and nature photography.
Ahjumawi is open year round, though winters can be very cold. Evenings can be chilly even in summer and spring can sometimes bring large numbers of mosquitoes.
Fees: There is no entrance fee, but there is a $15 camping fee per night. Reservations are not accepted.
The Park is boat-in only and facilities are very primitive in the Park.