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Yreka, California, is a small town in Northern California near the Oregon border that was once a gold-digging destination but now the riches come from the scenic views and fresh air.
Known as “The Golden City”, this small town offers a big country to explore.
Pronounced Why-REEK-uh, this city lives in the shadows of the massive Mount Shasta standing 14,000 feet tall.
Mount Shasta also brings climbers, skiers, and hikers to enjoy her many natural physical challenges.
Fishing is good in the surrounding lakes and rivers and the forests make for perfect campgrounds for people looking to unplug.
Yreka is located in Siskyou (pronounced Sis-Q) County, and it’s just an hour east of the Klamath National Forest, an area that covers more than 1.7 million acres.
There are five wilderness areas ripe for exploring within the park and several climate zones on top of that.
Warnings & Dangers in Yreka
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's low overall risk when it comes to crime. If you are prepared for the natural elements, including cold weather, high altitudes, and wildfire risks, you can keep that low rating. If you are not much of an outdoor person and try to climb Mount Shasta, you're going to run into some greater risks.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Siskiyou Transit and General Express (STAGE) is the public bus transportation throughout the county with several stops throughout cities in the region, including Yreka and Mount Shasta. Prices range from $4 through $30 (that's for a 10-day pass). You do have a couple of local cab options, but honestly, having a car here is critical to getting to, from, and around Yreka if you want the full experience. There's low risk with any option you choose.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. Two purses snatchings were reported in 2020. It's easy in a small town like this to let your guard down and leave a bag or backpack unattended, but crime can and does happen everywhere.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Winter storms and wildfires are the biggest concerns here, and there's a decent risk of both each year, so we have to go with medium risk. Winter weather can quickly shut down roads, including the main artery of I-5. Wildfires the rest of the year impact air quality, travel, and safety.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There have been no more than six robberies per year in the past decade. You are safe from being mugged and have a very low risk. There's a better chance a bear will take your things than a human. (We'll get to bear worries in a little bit.)
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of terrorism in a place this remote. There's nothing to target.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There have been a few scams here involving door-to-door magazine sales and fake kidnapping phone calls, but nothing that would impact a tourist. There's a low risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
From a crime perspective, there's a low risk. If a woman is outdoorsy and can handle the elements, the risk stays low. This is not a mountain spa retreat. This is the wilderness and all the beautiful benefits and dangers that come with it.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
California is in a water crisis because of drought, but there's nothing about tap water to cause you concern when using it for drinking or bathing. There's a low risk of contamination. You should limit showers to 10 minutes and use only the water you'll need. Take precautions like turning off the running water while you brush your teeth to help keep water flowing. Some smaller communities around Yreka have run out of water from time to time.
Safest Places to Visit in Yreka
A walk down Miner Street in Yreka is like walking back in time to the Gold Rush era.
Seven of the buildings you’ll pass along the 164 acres of land are marked as historical landmarks.
Don’t miss the Franco-American Hotel museum.
The Siskiyou County Museum is a great place to learn about the history of the land too.
If you want to do your own “search for gold”, hit up the Rain Rock Casino in Yreka.
There are more than 300 slot machines and video poker options to choose from and a restaurant with a basic sports bar menu.
Klamath National Forest is an hour east.
Mount Shasta (the city) is about 35 minutes south and from there you head east to get to the railheads for the actual mountain of Mount Shasta.
Places to Avoid in Yreka
There aren’t enough parts of town in Yreka to have a bad part of town.
Reviews of the area say the locals are very friendly and it’s noted that this is a very conservative area, so no political arguments on vacation, okay?
You want to avoid going off any marked trail, whether you are hiking or skiing.
Be sure to check weather conditions before you head out so you know the potential for road closures, incoming storms, or wildfires.
Don’t go into the mountains during winter (or late fall/early spring) without snow chains.
Make sure you put them on when needed and remove them when they are not needed or if they are not allowed in certain areas.
Avoid taking shortcuts in this area.
Even the best technology doesn’t always have the most up-to-date maps and a road could start or end suddenly or you could end up on an unpaved road.
Too many people get lost or stuck trying to take shortcuts through mountain areas.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Yreka
- Inciweb is your best friend during the wildfire season, which is from June through November. The website clearly explains all fires in a given area and the efforts to contain them, wind speed, and how fast they are spreading.
- CalTrans will be your other best friend with a look at road conditions, closures, and even live cameras. You can also call for Yreka road conditions by dialing (530) 842-4438.
- Due to drought conditions and fire safety, you’ll need a campfire permit if you want to light a fire out in the wilderness. An unattended or not fully extinguished campfire can start a large wildfire quickly. Talk to a park ranger about campfire safety before you go into the forest.
- Sign up for the Siskyou County CODE RED service. You’ll get a call or text if there is a weather or civil emergency.
- If you are going into the Klamath National Forest, you might be able to help the USDA. They are looking for people to mark and measure large trees found in the forest. You just need to save the GPS coordinates of the tree, take a picture, and measure it if you have a way to do so. You’ll send that information to the USDA. All the information on this is available on the Klamath National Forest front page.
- Another permit you need is for gathering items in the forest. If you are planning on picking anything but berries, pine nuts, and pine cones, you need a permit. You can find out more information on the Klamath National Park website.
- Anyone over the age of 16 needs a sport fishing license by California law. You can sign up for one when you get to town at a local hardware store or you can start that process now on the California Fish and Wildlife website. The same goes for hunting.
- Miner Street in Yreka is closed on Sundays. You can still walk the street but all the stores, restaurants, and museums are closed.
- If you are spending any time in the mountains, grab some bear spray at a local store. This spray is ONLY to be used if you come across a bear and it is charging at you. You don’t spray it like perfume before you go (Hey, it has happened).
- When you are back from the wilderness, one of the first things you should do is a head-to-toe check of your body for ticks. The mountains in this area are loaded with them, and they embed into the skin and suck out blood as they grow attached to your body. Use tweezers to remove them and make sure you get the head when you pull it out.
So... How Safe Is Yreka Really?
Yreka is a town of 7800 people.
There were 40 violent crimes reported in 2020, 142 thefts, and no robberies.
A look at recent crime reports shows some pretty intense events that you’d expect in a bigger city, but most of the victims somehow knew each other.
This is a rugged environment about as far away from a big city as is possible.
The people here are tough but friendly.
Talk to a manager at a hotel or store and heed their advice about safety in the community and in the mountains.
They will know this area like the back of their hands.
You should choose Yreka and Siskyou County for a trip if you are prepared for a trip without a whole lot of amenities.
If you need to do shopping, Mount Shasta is probably going to be the best choice.
It’s the shopping center of this Northern California nook.
How Does Yreka Compare?
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- Visas - You'll take care of the Visa requirements at the airport when you arrive in the United States. You won't need to do anything additional in Yreka. Be sure to get all the proper permits before going into the woods.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. You won't need a lot of cash. The main reason people come here is for outdoor activities. You can get a national park pass online for a day or an extended stay.
- Weather - Yreka gets cold in the winter and you've got to plan the weather by elevation as well as a time of year. It might be 30°(F) in Yreka but 15°(F) when you get to 6000 feet. You'll need lots of warm layers and water shoes as well as a thick coat. Highs average in the 40s and lows average in the 20s from December through February. Even in June, the lows are in the 40s, so this isn't a sundress and flip-flops vacation. While it can get into the mid-80s during the day, those temperatures drop at night.
- Airports - The Medford Oregon Regional Airport is about an hour north and that's your closest option. You can also head south to Redding's airport about 90 minutes down the road for a connection to San Francisco or Los Angeles.
- Travel Insurance - You'll need travel insurance for the wildness getaway to Yreka due to storms, wildfires, and road closures that can quickly impact travel plans.
Yreka Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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3 Reviews on Yreka
Vandalism is rampant.
Vandalism is rampant. Park your car in an unsecured lot or on the street there is a good chance of windows being broken. Catalytic converter theft is common. Home robberies. Muggings too.
Not many services are available beyond Walmart, liquor stores, and gas stations. Lots of motels.
There is a local saying “Eureka means ‘I found it!’ Yreka means ‘You got to go to Medford for that.'”
Welcome to small-town America.
Great place for people loving the outdoors
Yreka is a great attraction for hikers and climbers because of Mount Shasta. There’s also fishing to be done here and it’s quite fun. We came here looking to have some fun in the outdoors as we heard this was a great, remote and peaceful place that offers plenty of natural places we can visit and explore. It’s a beautiful place, with plenty to do if you love the outdoors. If you don’t I would stay away from it.
Safety wise, there’s nothing to fear here as there are no pickpockets, thieves or people that want to hurt you. What you need to pay attention to is the wildfires that might start at any time. Nothing bad happened while we were here but I’ve heard some stories of past incidents so we were on the lookout for this.
Just like the article mentions if you want to get the full experience and make it easier for yourself then you have to come prepared and have a car. There’s a lot of miles to cover and if you don’t have a car, well that’s going to be difficult to do, very difficult.
Greenhorn Park was one of the places we visited and it had everything you would expect from a park including bears so watch out. We also saw deer. You can hike here or just have a walk around the nice pond.
Other things to see here are the Yreka Western Railroad, the Siskiyou Country Museum, West Miner Street Historic District or the Franco-American Hotel. All nice places to visit where you can learn the history of the place and go back in time for a while. The West Miner Street Historic District is a very good way to get the lay of the land, take many pictures, meet some of the locals and enjoy the scenery.
Just keep driving
Crime rates and city rates aren’t good. If you don’t have to stop there, other then for the casino I just wouldn’t
Stay on Casino grounds not in Yreka if that’s an option or drive to Ashland, OR. There are 51 registered sex offenders living in Yreka, California.
Yreka’s crime rate is higher than in 84.3% U.S. cities. I am so happy I had the financial means to leave that place. A lot of people are stuck.