A Guide to the 7 Natural Wonders of Redding, California

Brought to you by Visit Redding

Photo by Lubo Minar

The beautiful surroundings of Redding, California make it the gateway to Northern California’s wilderness. It’s got volcanoes, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and 225-miles of trails to boast, leaving little to the imagination for any outdoor adventurer.

When you think about it, not much of our outdoor destinations are completely natural. Many of our lakes and rivers are controlled by dams, trails are brilliantly built everywhere and ill-conceived construction and logging operations put human’s touch on most outdoor areas. We rarely get to see nature in its true form.

It remains nearly impossible today to see nature the way it was created, but there are still some places in Redding that have remained natural. That’s why we created a list of the 7 natural wonders of Redding:

Burney Falls

Photo by Karam Alani

Of course Burney Falls has to top this list, since it was once dubbed the Eighth Natural Wonder of the World by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Burney Falls sits just an hour east of Redding and is one of the top outdoor destinations on the entire West Coast. Standing 129-foot waterfall, over 100 million of gallons of water cascade down the waterfall each day 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.

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.

If you want to stay the night, Burney Falls State Park has an excellent campground, with 128 sites, flush restrooms and showers. You can also book one of their 1- or 2-bedroom cabins, which are equipped with fire rings, propane heaters, picnic tables and bunk beds. Just note that there is no electricity, so bring along lanterns and your own bedding. At the Burney Falls General Store, you can stock up on grocery items, souvenirs and snacks.

Learn more about the Eighth Wonder of the World – Burney Falls

Lassen Peak

Photo by Anna French

When you drive around the different areas of Redding, there are moments when you’ll look to the east and notice a beautiful mountain standing in all its glory. In fact, that is an active volcano known for its eruption just over a hundred years ago. Drive an hour east and you can see the beast up close.

Lassen Peak is one of the most marvelous destinations in NorCal, bringing with it a fascinating volcanic history to match its clean, mountainous shape. The hike to the top of the 10,463-foot volcano isn’t as difficult as you might imagine, providing unparalleled views of the area. If you aren’t up for a hike, enjoy its beauty in Lassen Volcanic National Park, with the best spots at Manzanita Lake and Lake Helen.

When you visit Redding, it’s hard to miss the massive volcano to the east keeping a constant eye over the region. It’s truly a marvel to see.

Read more about the Hike to the Top of Lassen Peak

Whiskeytown Falls

You’d be hard pressed to find a more pristine area in Northern California than 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.

The most popular waterfall to visit is Whiskeytown Falls, a 220 foot-tall beauty that for years remained an all but hidden treasure except for those fortunate enough to find its remote location. Until the 3.4-mile James K. Carr Trail was constructed, the waterfall was known as Hidden Falls.

With the waterfall standing so high, it’s impossible to see all the way to the top from the bottom. That’s why a stairway was constructed to give visitors an up-close view of the rushing water as it cascades down the fall’s rocky face. We know that’s man-made, but it doesn’t impact the beauty of the waterfall one bit.

Read more about the hike to Whiskeytown Falls

Castle Crags

Photo by Brandon DesJarlais

As you drive up Interstate 5 north towards Mount Shasta, your eyes will likely fixate straight ahead so as not to miss the beauty of the active volcano. Once you reach the Castella area, be sure to turn left to see one of the most spectacular rock formations NorCal has to offer – Castle Crags.

The Castle Crags Wilderness sitting in the northern region of Shasta County is home to plenty of beauty like Castle Dome, Root Creek Falls and Burstarse Falls. But its legendary rock spires that look down on the area are something of legend. They look like a massive castle on the hill, standing lonely above the forest below.

Other than simply taking in its beauty, there are plenty of ways to explore the rock formations. The Castle Dome Trail is the most popular way to hike to the top of Castle Crags. From there, you’ll finally get that epic view of Mount Shasta you were searching for.

Learn more about Castle Crags State Park

Bumpass Hell

Photo by Quentin Burgess

Lassen Peak remains the most prevalent illustration of NorCal’s volcanic history, but there’s a nearby area that you can see the constant hydrothermal activity up close and personal.

Bumpass Hell is an area of plopping mudpots, bubbling pools, and roaring steam vents sitting inside Lassen Volcanic National Park. Kendall Vanhook Bumpass discovered the area in 1864 while looking for stray cattle. During his first visit he broke through the thin crust of the earth and burnt his foot on the boiling mudpots below. When he returned home and others asked him where he’d been, he replied “Boys, I have been in Hell.”

Today, a beautiful walkway (yes, man-made) allows you to get up close and personal with the hydrothermal wonder. See the steam rising from the ground, mud boiling up from the hot surface below and colorful water flowing through the park. If you can handle the pungent smell, it’s a beauty to see.

Learn more about the hike to Bumpass Hell

Shasta Caverns

In order to see Shasta Caverns, you have to enter a visitors center, walk down a long walkway and boat dock, take a boat ride across Shasta Lake, and take a bus up the hill before entering the cave. Then you’ll see some of the most incredible natural beauty you’ve ever laid your eyes on.

Sure, there’s a man-made walkway through the cave, but once your in Shasta Caverns, your eyes will stay firmly to the ceiling and walls around you. Though Shasta Caverns is only a short drive north of Redding, you may be shocked by how otherworldly it really is.

Walking from chamber to chamber, you’ll be met with beautifully lit views of massive stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over hundreds of thousands of years. With the sounds of dripping water flowing through the cave and the bats flying overhead, you’ll realize you’re in a completely different, natural world.

Discover a captivating underground world at Lake Shasta Caverns

Mount Shasta

Photo by Stephen Leonardi

What can we say about Mount Shasta that hasn’t been documented heavily on this site? The Crown of California is as beautiful as it is a mystery to everyone who gets close to it. It’s the perfect outdoor playground for anyone, giving majestic slopes and tributaries to anyone that comes in its path.

There’s so many ways to enjoy Mount Shasta. You can earn insane views of the active volcano from Heart Lake. You can hike the lush meadows of the lower elevation areas. Or you can drink from the headwaters of the Sacramento River at the bottom of the mountain.

On any given day, you’re also likely to see one of the magical lenticular clouds that make Shasta so famous. The clouds lend to the legends surrounding the area, including sightings of aliens, Bigfoot and the beings living inside the mountain – Lemurians.

Learn more about the Crown of California – Mount Shasta

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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