Surprise Valley Chamber of Commerce
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Photo by Debra Cockrell
Small Creek
Photo by Debra Cockrell
Photo by Debra Cockrell
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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 years.

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 Recreation link in the left menu.

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 round-up  hats, 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!

Visit the Cal Vada History Foundation Museum

708 Townsend, The old Forest Service Building (Facebook Page)


Page modified: 19 Feb 2024 10:02:31 -0800

Surprise Valley Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 518, Cedarville, California 96104

Copyright 2024 Surprise Valley Chamber of Commerce. All Rights Reserved.