Aerial view of the Sundial Bridge and Sacramento River in Redding, California.
Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Two woman toasting at Lake Shasta Dinner Cruise in Redding, California.
Conference event at Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, California.
Aerial view of the Sundial Bridge and Sacramento River in Redding, California.
Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Two woman toasting at Lake Shasta Dinner Cruise in Redding, California.
Conference event at Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, California.

5 Must-Visit State Parks Near Redding

By Ry Glover | 06/21/2022

To say that Redding is blessed with a vast array of nearby parks in the area would be a vast understatement. Within a one-hour radius of this Northern California gem is a glittering collection of river trails, recreation areas, national forests, national parks, state forests, and yep—you guessed it—state parks! What this means for visitors is incredible options and diversity when it comes to getting outside. Not just in terms of where to recreate, but how to recreate too!

From climbing granite spires to canoeing through freshwater springs, hiking a section of the world-famous Pacific Crest Trail to exploring the ruins of a Gold Rush city, there’s no shortage of things to do in Redding’s parks. So, without further ado, here are some of the must-visit state parks surrounding Redding!

Located a mere 10-minute drive west of downtown Redding, Shasta State Historic Park offers a fascinating and history-filled jaunt back in time. Once the bustling outpost of Shasta City—the “Queen City'' of California’s northern mining district—this town was once the largest settlement in Shasta County in the 1850s through 1880s. During its heyday, roughly 3,500 residents called Shasta City home! When, in 1873, the Central Pacific Railroad opted to make Redding a stop along its Oregon-bound route instead of Shasta City, the township slowly began its doomed march into “ghost town” obscurity.

Today, the remains of this once-thriving town have been preserved at Shasta State Historic Park. Visitors can get up-close-and-personal views of the original 19th-century brick buildings and let their imaginations run wild as they tour the ruins of this old gold mining town. The California Parks Department perhaps best sums up the experience of visiting this eerie yet eerily captivating park: “Iron shutters still swing on massive, old, iron hinges before the doors and windows of grass-filled, roofless buildings that once were crowded with merchandise, and alive with the human sounds of business, trade, and social endeavor.”

Named for its dramatic and jagged-edged rock formations, Castle Crags State Park is one of Northern California’s best-kept secrets. This sweeping, sprawling, seriously stunning state park has long been a crown jewel for outdoor admirers. For millennia, this area was home to several native groups, including the Okwanuchu Shasta peoples as well as the Wintu, Achumawi, and Modocs. During the California Gold Rush, European pioneers and settlers flocked to the area in search of prosperous new beginnings. What followed was a long, arduous, sometimes violent series of events between local indigenous populations and these newcomers, culminating most prominently in the 1855 Battle of Castle Crags.

Today, the area is characterized by supreme natural beauty. The Crags themselves are the stuff of legend. Ranging from 2,000 to over 6,500 feet in elevation, these jagged spires overlook the surrounding forests with timeless wisdom. More than 170 million years old, they’re the wise old sages, the seen-it-all stewards of the area. Waterfalls cascade down their backs. The Sacramento River flows at their base. The Pacific Crest Trail winds through their underbelly, as do more than 28 miles of other hiking trails. Climbers flock to their granite cliff faces. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes congregate in the area’s sea of firs, pines, and spruce. In short, Castle Crags State Park is a veritable mecca for any and all outdoor pursuits.

What sets Ahjuami Lava Springs apart isn’t so much the marshy maze of creeks, lakes, and freshwater springs. Nor is it the roughly 6,000 acres of jagged black basalt deposited in lava flows. It isn’t even the 20 miles of hiking trails or rich Native American history or tree-studded islets with their diverse panoply of pines, birchleaf, western juniper, Garry oak, and curlleaf mountain mahogany. 

No, what seriously sets Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park is its complete and comprehensive “off-the-beaten-path” ethos. Located in remote northeastern Shasta County and accessible literally only by boat, visiting this state park is like taking a step—no, a leap—back in geological time. Within its 4-mile length and 1-mile width area lies a pristine, almost untouched wilderness of freshwater springs, volcanic geological features, diverse wildlife, and subtle yet supreme natural beauty. 

The best way to experience the park? By boat of course! There are numerous narrow waterways suitable for canoes and kayaks and plenty of world-class fishing.

About fifty miles northwest of Redding, Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park is a place where ancient tradition meets ample tranquility. Built in 1874 (after an earlier original construction from 1849 had been destroyed by fire), this Taoist temple is the oldest Chinese temple in California. Back in the Gold Rush days, it was a place of quiet escape and worship for Chinese immigrants in the area. 

Today, it remains a still-in-use temple and also offers an inside glimpse into Taoist tradition and the role played by Chinese citizens in early California history. On display are various art objects, mining tools, wrought-iron weapons, pictures, and more. There is a variety of traditional Chinese events and interactive experiences held throughout the year, including the famous “lion dance” held during the Chinese New Year and during the Fourth of July. And in terms of surrounding scenery, it doesn’t much more peaceful. Nestled in the belly of the Trinity Alps, with Weaver Creek babbling by, and locust trees and sugar pines offering ample shade among the verdant enclave, Weaverville Joss House offers a glorious way to get away from it all!

Named after California pioneer William Brown Ide, the William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park of today offers a peaceful respite where nature and history mingle as one. The star of the show is the adobe ranch house itself, a modest yet handsome structure constructed in 1852 during the burgeoning California Gold Rush, which over the course of the next century, was the home of various residents and families until becoming a designated park in 1960. 

Today, the park features a museum within the restored adobe house with a mock layout of how California’s early pioneers once lived. There’s also a recreated 1850s homestead with replicas of an old schoolhouse, wood shop, and blacksmith shop. There are also numerous interpretive programs on offer at the park, including pioneer crafts and period parties, which make for an excellent interactive experience, especially for the kids. And with peaceful views of the Sacramento River from the picnic area, this park offers the ultimate mix of old-world charm and serene, subtle beauty.

Okay, it’s not technically a state park. But it is one of the most adventure-filled recreation areas in the entire region, and we’d be remiss not to mention Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Spanning 42,500 acres, Whiskeytown is a stunning land of lakes, cascading waterfalls, 70+ miles of multi-use trails, and “rich” Gold Rush history. For hikers and mountain bikers, the recreation area offers a vast network of trail systems. And for water enthusiasts, the namesake Whiskeytown Lake is a bona fide hub for any and all kinds of watercraft adventures—from boating and fishing to kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. 

Visit a Redding state park today!

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