Brought to you by Visit Redding
It’s been said that Redding, California is the “Gateway to the Northern California Wilderness.” Since NorCal is loaded with awesome wilderness destinations, it’s probably easy to be skeptical of that moniker. But a simple review of the National and State Parks surrounding Redding will surely put the skeptics to bed.
Just outside of Redding is 11 awesome National and State Parks with varying features and scenes. From the sprawling wilderness of the large National Parks to the educational opportunities of the historical landmarks, there are so many ways to experience the areas surrounding Redding.
Here are 11 National and State Parks near Redding that are sure to peak your interest:
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Sitting right outside Redding, California is one of the most underrated National Parks in the United States, loaded with pristine wildlife, beautiful hikes, pristine waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes and an active volcano. It’s typically not one of the National Parks you’ll hear when listing America’s most popular parks, and that’s a good thing.
At Lassen Volcanic National Park , you can experience a top-notch outdoor experience without the crowds you see at Yosemite or Yellowstone. And even with it’s lack of tourists, for our money, you won’t find more outdoor beauty in one wilderness area than in Lassen.
Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark
While most people head to the lake for sunny vibes, there’s also an awesome experience you can find underground. Lake Shasta Caverns are a network of caves located near the McCloud arm of the lake and is one of the most unforgettable cave adventures found in the country.
The tour begins with a long downhill hike to the patio boat that carries you to the other side of the McCloud River arm of the Shasta Lake. Once you arrive at water level, the boat ride is wonderful. Though Shasta Caverns is only a short drive north of Redding, you may be shocked by how otherworldly it really is. Maybe that’s the point.
Once in the cave you are ushered through chambers of all sizes, some up a flight of stairs, some down. Each cavern has a name, and a story. Though I have been known to get claustrophobic in tight places, I’ve never felt that way inside Shasta Caverns. There is so much to see and too many great stories to listen to. The tour takes at least an hour, and the time flies.
Lava Beds National Monument
Sitting in the the tippy-top of Northern California is one of the most beautiful, historical parks in all of California. Combining geology with history and just good ol’ fashioned outdoor beauty, this rugged terrain is one of NorCal’s most fascinating and underrated outdoor destinations.
The Lava Beds National Monument is a land of turmoil, both geologic and historic. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. Lava tube caves, Native American sites, historic battlefields and a high desert wilderness experience highlight an adventurous trip to the park.
Sacramento River National Recreation Trail
We’ve all felt like we were going in circles at some point in our lives, but just maybe there’s an active and educational way to do that very thing. That “circle” is the Sacramento River Trail, one of the most underrated features of our North State for lovers of stunning scenery, learning about the area and staying active. Used by a wide variety of people from casual hikers to hard-core runners, bikers, birdwatchers and even anglers, the trail connects with several other trail systems and offers one of the quintessential North State experiences.
Over the years, they’ve expanded the trail to encompass many of the best parts of Redding, including Turtle Bay Exploration Park, the Sundial Bridge, Caldwell Park and even Shasta Dam. There are many sections to hop on and go for a walk or ride, or you could spend all day exploring the entire trail.
William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park
For just 22 days in 1846, California went under the name California Bear Republic, as proclaimed by William B. Ide. Adjacent to the Sacramento River in Red Bluff sits the William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park memorializing the bold proclamation and remembering the bustling Gold Rush in Northern California.
Today, visitors of the park will learn about the hardships of settlers in the 1800’s with ranch buildings and educational programs. You can learn how steamboats trekked down the Sacramento River and the ferry programs of the time that helped travelers cross the mighty river.
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
You’d be hard pressed to find a more pristine area in Northern California than the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Whiskeytown Lake is the centerpiece of the park that includes four waterfalls, hundreds of miles of trails and a beautiful beach.
There’s something for everyone at Whiskeytown. You can hike a peak, visit a waterfall, go for a swim, enjoy the lake from a boat, go fishing, lounge on the beach or even do some water skiing. Whiskeytown is a local favorite for Redding residents and is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the area.
Note: Repairs from the Carr Fire are still ongoing in the park. Please check here before planning your visit to Whiskeytown
Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park
Probably NorCal’s best kept secret is the Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park, most likely due to its remote location in northeastern Shasta County and the fact that it can only be reached by boat. But the area with about 13 miles of shoreline has three campsites and nearly 20 miles of accessible trails in the area. If you’re willing to put in the work to get there, it’s worth the trek.
Named after the Achomawi (a band of the Pit River Indians) that inhabited the area for centuries, the park’s 5,930 acres is covered in jagged lava flow rocks and remains one of the nation’s largest systems of underwater springs in the U.S. The park was once a muskrat farm in the 1930’s, and the little critters can still be seen in the area, along with remnants of Native American fishing traps on the water.
Castle Crags State Park
Castle Crags seems to hide in plain sight. Though clearly visible from I-5, the magnificent geological oddity receives less mention than other North State attractions. Maybe people prefer volcanoes to granite spires.
Whatever the reason for Castle Crags State Park’s relative anonymity, the destination certainly deserves a visit. From the hike to Castle Dome to finding waterfalls like Root Creek Falls and Burstarse Falls, there are so many reasons to make a trip to the legendary Crags.
Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park
Probably the most unique park on this list sits in Weaverville, where the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in California sits. The Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park is a functioning Taoist temple as well as a State Park, and it shows the culture of the Chinese immigrants who came to NorCal in the 1800’s to find gold and build the railroads.
Today, The Temple among the Trees Beneath the Clouds looks the same as when it was built in 1874 (the original temple, built in 1849, burned down) and shows the culture of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrants living in NorCal in the 19th-century. Visitors will see Chinese art objects, pictures, mining tools, and wrought iron weapons used in the 1854 Tong War. Every Chinese New Year and Fourth of July, a lion dance is performed for visitors.
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
For many people around the globe, when they think of Northern California, they think of Burney Falls. Located just north of Redding between Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta in California’s lava country, is famous for its 129-foot waterfall, which cascades from Burney Creek down into Lake Britton. The falls are a sacred place for the Pit River Indian Tribe, who have held ceremonial rituals here for thousands of years. President Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed with the waterfall, he dubbed it the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
The year-round falls are formed by melting snow from Burney Mountain, which travels through underground streams before hitting solid rock and flowing back to the surface. Each day, more than 100 million gallons of water plunge over the falls.
While you’re there, don’t miss the Falls Loop Trail, which is a 1-mile hike to the base of the falls and back up. During the walk, you’ll see lava flows and fractured basalt — evidence of the region’s turbulent volcanic activity. After descending 100 feet into Burney Canyon, we’re rewarded with a cool mist at the base of the falls.
Shasta State Historic Park
In the mid-1800’s, the town of Shasta sitting just 6 miles west of Redding, California was the largest town in Shasta County. The mining community was a bustling settlement of Forty-Niners looking for their shot at the millions of dollars in Gold Rush riches from the 1850’s to 1880’s. At its peak, 3,500 residents shared a blacksmith shop, general store and courthouse near what is now the beautiful waters of Whiskeytown Lake.
Today, the ruins of the once vibrant Gold Rush town remain in “Old Shasta,” with restorations allowing visitors to take a walk through Northern California history in what was once called the “Queen City” of California’s northern mining district.
The grounds of Shasta today are incorporated in the Shasta State Historic Park, which include a courthouse museum, 19th-century brick ruins, a post office, a church, a cemetery and the historic bakery. Walking through this site will give you a unique glimpse into the past of Northern California, and you can enjoy it during a brief afternoon or immerse yourself in its history for an entire day.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine