Walk in the footsteps of Captain Jack and his tribal members at Lava Beds National Monument in the Northern Sierra Cascade. The Captain Jack's Stronghold Trail offers two short, self-guided interpretive trails that wind through the heart of the Modoc’s wartime defenses.
During the Modoc War of 1872-1873, a small band of Modoc Indians used an intimate knowledge of their homeland's terrain to their tactical advantage. Under the leadership of Kintpuash (Captain Jack), the Modoc took refuge in "Captain Jacks Stronghold," a natural lava fortress. From here the Modoc held off U.S. Army forces numbering up to ten times their strength, for five months. At sites throughout the monument, you can contemplate this clash of cultures.
I have walked the trail around the Stronghold, and it is a very spiritual place. It's quiet, and you can hear the wind in the grass and birds chirping. As you look around at the view, you realize that over 138 years ago, a Modoc tribal member could have been standing here, trying to defend his homeland and keep his way of life. Unfortunately, we know how that ended, and the Klamath-Modoc-Yahooskin Tribes are still trying to gain back what they lost so many years ago.
A map of the Lava Beds National Monument is located in the sidebar, and shows how to reach Captain Jack's Stronghold trail.
Lava Beds National Monument
As one of the longest continually occupied areas in North America, the history and cultural legacy of the lava beds stretches back thousands of years. Visitors are invited to explore the history early Native Americans left behind in rock art and at archeological sites, the conflict of the Modoc War, and the traditions and heritage of homesteaders, ranchers, cave explorers, "CCC boys," and the modern Modoc and Klamath tribes.
Lava Beds National Monument is always open for visitors to experience this geological wonderland overflowing with Modoc history. The caves, trails, camping, and attractions are open year-round. Cave Loop Drive is closed to vehicles after dark, but you may still enter on foot or bicycle. Occasionally in winter, snow can temporarily close Park roads until they are plowed.
Most years, the Visitor Center is open every day except December 25th.
- Summer: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
(Memorial Day through Labor Day)
- Fall, Winter, Spring: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.