Surprise Valley (Modoc County, California)

Surprise Valley (Modoc County, California)

Surprise Valley (Modoc County, California)

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Surprise Valley is a valley in California, about 60 miles in length from north to south. Locals refer to the area as the Tricorner Region because of the region's location at the intersection of California, Oregon, and Nevada state lines. The valley is east of the Modoc County seat of Alturas. The area is part of the Great Basin which extends across most of the northern half of Nevada.


Most of the valley is over 4,000 feet above mean sea level (AMSL), and could be characterized as a high altitude desert valley. A series of alkaline lakes occupy low-lying areas. Forested mountains mark the west side of the valley. The Hays Canyon Range, (mostly east of the Nevada state line) is to the east and the Warner Mountains border the west. The valley is considered part of the Great Basin, a desert region roughly covering the northern half of Nevada and extending into Utah. Communities in Surprise Valley include Eagleville (ZIP Code 96110), Cedarville (96104), Lake City (96115), and Fort Bidwell (96112).


Most of the land west of the main north-south highway, Surprise Valley Road, is US Forest Service land. To the east of the road, most land is owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Recreational facilities on BLM lands tie in with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada (formerly called Sheldon Antelope Refuge). Over the region, opportunities for hiking, exploring dirt roads, birding, stalking antelope with cameras, fishing,...
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