~Yampa Sculpture Path & Studio Is An Evolving Idea~  

Hawk Ridge Lookout / Looking Northeast from top of hill.

We are now a registered 501c3 nonprofit. As of February 2019, we own roughly 12 acres of open land just outside of the town of Fort Bidwell which is located in the far northeastern corner of California known as Surprise Valley.

Fort Bidwell is situated within what is called the Tri-Corner region of Oregon, Nevada, and California.  The entire area is a historic treasure, cradling part of the old wagon train route that cuts across the Great Basin stretching through northwestern Nevada to the edge of northeastern California, arriving at the unexpected grassy meadows and hot springs of Surprise Valley. This was a resting place for the early settlers before attempting the treacherous Fandango Pass over the Warner Mountains.

Yampa Root

Yampa is the Paiute word for an edible tuber that provides nourishment. The wild tuber still grows in the surrounding hills here. It was an important food source for the Northern Paiute living in this region and could be eaten raw or cooked. It was also dried and stored to eat during the long hard winters. Like the wild tuber provides food for the body, we believe, art provides nourishment for the soul.



Assembled tufa, granite, obsidian with partial wild horse skull.

Sandhill Cranes
Photo by Brian Taylor

”Yampa Sculpture Path” will cultivate a place for enjoying sculpture within nature, fostering creativity, contemplation and health-giving relaxation for all who visit. It also would provide opportunities for the surrounding region to experience the arts in profound and meaningful ways. ”Yampa Sculpture Path” walks at the northern edge of the high desert and grasslands of Surprise Valley surrounded by mountains… just beautiful. The Sandhill Cranes nest here in the spring and the views are quiet ones.


Petroglyphs on Barrel Spring Loop

Petroglyphs  Before the Paiute came their was a more ancient nomadic people living here that we know very little about. We see a trace of them throughout the landscape painted on the rock walls and overhangs. The images are fading away. We want to honor these people by reproducing their images on cornerstone markers along the path designating each of the exhibition areas here.


The Studio building is a historical structure on the property dating back to the late 1800s when the old fort closed down. The property is referred to by the locals as the “Old Indian Property.” When the reservation was established and the government was closing the fort, it still owned parcels of lands associated with the old fort. So the land was divided up and given to Native American families. The government built a small house on each parcel of land. Later on, most of these families sold their property to the local settlers and the little houses were abandon.

Yampa Studio will be divided into three small spaces: Gift shop, gallery and mediation space.

Remarkably, the original house on the property still stands. I would like to preserve the integrity of the original outside design of the building and put up a plaque about it’s history honoring the families that went through this heartwrenching time. Inside the building will be the ”studio”, it will be divided into three small spaces: a gallery, gift shop and meditation space. I hope to artistically preserve the ambiance of the old inside, with streams of sunlight flowing through the building like a brief mirage into the past.



Assembled Limestone.

”Yampa Sculpture Path” will inspire to be to a place where people can come to walk or sit, to reflect or heal, while experiencing the awesome relationship art has with nature. Some of the large scale sculptures will be permanently exhibited here, so that they can be visited and revisited as many times as one wants. 

Yampa Studio”  The purpose of ”Yampa Sculpture Path” is to focus on outside sculpture, the purpose of the ”Studio” will be to include a variety of contemporary 3D work, including bead work, local woven textiles, small sculptures and more. The works will incorporate both contemporary Native American artists along-side work of other engaging artists that believe in our mission.

We will provide a place for both local artisans and sculptors to exhibit and sell their works, as well as, promoting new ideas with various exhibits open to all sculptors.



Parade Honoring the Boarding School Elders.

You don’t have to be a history buff to have a good time in Surprise Valley. It’s has been a vacation destination for rock-hounds, hot spring enthusiasts and back-country explorers. It’s great place to go birding or you can go fishing in the nearby lakes. There’s horseback riding, hiking and it’s easy bike riding throughout the Valley. At the end of every summer, Burning Man holds its big event. The ”Burners” pass through here on their way south into Nevada’s Black Rock Desert which is about an hour’s drive. In October, Fort Bidwell has a big parade honoring the Native American Elders that were forced to go to the government boarding schools when they were children. It’s put on by the local Paiutes at the Gidutikid Reservation with an entire weekend full of activities. There are also a couple Old Car Shows that drive to Fort Bidwell and the town puts on a big BBQ to celebrate.



All these events could be augmented with a visit to Yampa Sculpture Path, a nice way to begin or end the day, perhaps having lunch or dinner at the local hotel and even staying a night or two.  It could stimulate the area by adding a few new jobs, increase tourism while offering a public forum for artistic expression.


We are working on establishing funding along with other details for its success. My aim is that it will include a visiting artist program, educational opportunities for children and art excursions for adults.



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