Northern California is the lush, beautifully ornamented, quaint counterpart to SoCal’s rushing, booming, sun-filled oceanfront metropolises. From the wild redwood forests to quiet logging villages and ancient volcanoes, northern California’s Shasta Cascade region is filled with promise, mystery, and the kind of history that is built into the earth’s very being.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Perhaps the largest and most popular park in northern California besides Redwood National Park, Lassen is situated around the giant and magnificent Lassen Peak. Last erupted in 1914, Lassen’s expulsions lasted for three years, not going completely quiet until 1921. Standing over 10,000 feet tall, Lassen is best observed from the shores of Lake Helen at the base of Bumpass Hell Overlook. If you desire to hike to the top of the peak, it can be done by even young children with a lot of energy and stamina, but be aware that you may have company especially during summer weekends. Also, get a head start before temperatures skyrocket in the afternoon.
Also located in Lassen Park is Bumpass Hell, a 16 acre geothermal wonderland filled with sulphur vents, boiling pools, steam vents, springs, and other colorful, smelly features. So named for the explorer, Kendall Bumpass, who back in the 1860s burned his leg in a boiling pool, Bumpass Hell is now safely marked with boardwalks and trails. Trails lead you around the area to get a panoramic view of the ancient mega-volcano Mount Tehama which last exploded around 500,000 years ago. The Sulphur Works, an old sulphur mine used back in the 1860s, is located in the area and is a good place to observe the colorful deposits and rotten egg smell of pure sulphur as it comes up from the depths of the earth.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is a paradise of new growth and old, of ancient mountains, burgeoning forests, cascading waterfalls, and beautiful lakes. Come for the volcano and stay for stargazing, camping, kayaking, fishing, or swimming in the lakes. Hike to Mill Creek Falls, the park’s tallest waterfall at 75 feet or King Creek Falls.
Located 60 miles northeast of the town of Redding in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Burney Falls was called the “eighth wonder of the world” by none other than President Teddy Roosevelt. This 129 foot tall waterfall is fed by Burney Creek and ice melt from the towering rock face above before the rapids shower the pools below with booming force, churning the depths with iridescent bubbles and auroras of rainbows from the prismatic spray. Completely cradled by ferns of deep green, lush forests, and mountains of California flora, Burney Falls is perhaps the most beautiful waterfall to be seen in the western United States.
Located on the Feather River, Oroville was a Gold Rush town in the mid-1800s. Now, its defining feature is the Chinese Temple and Museum, originally founded in 1863 by the Emperor and Empress of China. Established as a place of worship for Chinese followers of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, this historic temple is still used today along with a modern museum featuring historic artifacts such as Chinese clothing, parasols, and their American counterparts. While you’re here, make sure you walk through the gardens planted in the 1800s.
The grand centerpiece of the Shasta Cascade region, Mount Shasta is a 14,179-foot peak that rises perfectly from the surrounding plains as a picture-perfect mountain. The volcano last erupted in 1786 but is now a pristine, snow-capped wonder that can be seen for miles around. While only experienced rock climbers and professionals should try and conquer Mount Shasta’s peak, there are easy trails that lead through wildflowers, meadows and forests along the McCloud River towards waterfalls. If you don’t have time to hike the mountain’s areas, simply have a picnic at its base or come to marvel at its magnificence.
As the largest city in the region, Redding boasts more than one popular attraction including the Sundial Bridge. Billed as the world’s largest sundial, this pedestrian bridge is an excellent spot to stop and marvel at the scenery and this beautiful construction designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
While in Redding, make sure you check out the Turtle Bay Exploration Park where you can see a museum, botanical gardens and arboretum, and forestry and wildlife center housing several animals including a raccoon, red-tailed hawk, desert tortoise, black vulture, and gopher snake. Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp is also located on the park, an educational area modeled after an old Californian logging camp.
Other small cities and sites in the area worth visiting includes the Lava Beds National Monument where you can explore several lava tubes. Astronauts trained here before going to the moon in the 1960s. Chico, California is a quaint, small-town where you can visit Bidwell Park and Bidwell Mansion, take a tour at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, explore the Gateway Science Museum, or see a play at the Pageant Theatre.
When you’re on a group trip to California, why not beat the crowds and head to someplace with ancient beauty, volatile potential, and stunning views? Shasta Cascade has all of this and more simply waiting for you.