The Bigfoot Scenic Byway
Picturesque Hwy 96 meanders north from Willow Creek and passes through the Hoopa Valley Reservation, the largest Indian reservation in California. Attractions at the reservation include the Hoopa Tribal Museum, Lucky Bear Casino and ancient Indian villages that date back 10,000 years.
Further along Hwy 96 is the pleasant community of Orleans. Orleans is situated along the Klamath River and borders the Six Rivers and Klamath National Forests. The Orleans Ranger Station has information on the nearby Marble Mountains, Trinity Alps and Siskiyou Wilderness areas. The region has scores of high country lakes and miles of remote trails. Wildlife is abundant and it’s not unusual to see otters, geese, ospreys, bears and, if you’re lucky, a bald eagle. More than 300 species of birds inhabit the area. Orleans has a surprising number of services for its size, including restaurants, motels, a museum, gas station, deli, laundromat, grocery store, RV parks and more.
About 10 miles north of Orleans is the hamlet of Somes Bar, where the astonishingly clean and beautiful Salmon River — sometimes called the Cal-Salmon to distinguish it from the Salmon River in Idaho — meets the Klamath. Somes Bar is just over the line into Siskiyou County. Oak Bottom Campground offers services in the area along a calm stretch of the river. A narrow, curvy road leads up river to class 4 and 5 rapids, which should be run only by experts. Somes Bar has groceries, propane, gasoline and a post office available.
Further north is Happy Camp, so named by a party of gold-seekers who camped on the beach at Indian Creek in 1851. The area is the ancestral homeland of the Karuk tribe. Today the tribe continues its culture and lifestyle there.