Lava Beds National Monument is located in northeastern California, in Siskiyou and Modoc counties. The monument lies on the northeastern flank of Medicine Lake Volcano and has the largest total area covered by a volcano in the Cascade Range.
The region in and around Lava Beds National Monument lies at the junction of the Sierra-Klamath, Cascade, and Great Basin physiographic provinces. The monument was established as a national monument on November 21, 1925, and includes more than 46,000 acres (190 km2).
Lava Beds National Monument has numerous lava tubes, with 27 having marked entrances and developed trails for public access and exploration. The monument also offers trails through the high Great Basin xeric shrubland desert landscape and the volcanic field. In 1872 and 1873, the area was the site of the Modoc War, involving a band led by Kintpuash (also known as Captain Jack). The area of Captain Jack's Stronghold was named in his honor.
Lava Beds National Monument includes Petroglyph Point, one of the largest panels of Native American rock art in the United States. The region was historically occupied by the Modoc people. The Lava Beds National Monument Archeological District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 1991.Modoc War
During the Modoc War of 1872–1873, warriors of a band led by Kintpuash (Captain Jack) used the lava beds as a defensive stronghold to resist being captured and returned to the Klamath Reservation in Oregon, to which they had been removed, as European Americans wanted their lands. The Modoc took refuge in a natural lava fortress that was later named Captain Jack's Stronghold. From this defensive base, a group of 53 fighting men and their families held off US Army forces, amounting to ten times the Modocs' population, for five months.
In April 1873, at a peace commission meeting, Captain Jack killed General Edward Canby while associates killed Reverend Eleazer Smith and wounded two other commissioners. Canby was the only casualty of the Indian Wars who had the rank of general at the time of his death. The Modoc mistakenly thought the Americans would leave if their leaders were killed. Instead Army reinforcements were brought in and the Modoc were eventually forced to surrender. Kintpuash and his associates were convicted of war crimes for the murders, and executed by hanging at Fort Klamath.