California

Shasta Cascade

The earth is not quiet in this region of California. Shasta Cascade includes Lassen Volcanic National Park, two National Monuments, six National Forests and seven California State Parks. It’s the perfect place to get back to nature, chill out, and enjoy the great outdoor adventures it offers. This is one of the few unspoiled areas remaining in California offering off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Just like the gold miners who settled in the area, this region is for the traveler who wants to explore. Every place has a flavor, and Shasta Cascade’s flavor is ‘outside’; from towering volcanoes, steaming clouds of volcanic gases, alpine ranges, to waterfalls, lush forests, pristine lakes, and roaring rivers. Take a hike in Lassen to geothermal pools and watch the earth literally boil beneath you. Get your motor running with the bustling crowds of boaters at Lake Shasta, or take a quiet retreat with human powered paddle activities in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

Main Image © Kirsten Alana

Adventure Highlights

Walk beneath the Earth into total darkness inside an empty lava tube at Subway Caves in Lassen National Forest.

Bike from Redding’s Sundial Bridge to the Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail; 16 miles of paved path one way.

Get a group together and rent a Houseboat on Shasta Lake. The lake is so huge you could pull up to a different spot along the shore every night of the year!

Do a free ranger led kayak tour on Whiskeytown Lake.

Hike the 3 mile Bumpass Hell trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park to get up close to the geothermal activity and spectacular views of the park.

Take a guided backpacking trip to the top of Mt. Shasta.

Go fly fishing on the Sacramento River known around the globe for its trophy Wild Rainbow Trout fishing and Steelhead fishing.

Hike the short trail around Burney Falls for views of the 129-foot waterfalls; the centerpiece of the McArthur-Burney Falls State Park.

Try stand up paddle boarding at Whiskeytown Lake, it’s a great lake for beginners!

Photo © Kirsten Alana
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Destination Facts

  • Lassen Volcanic National Park is the only place on Earth where all four types of volcanoes can be seen.
  • The largest winter gathering of bald eagles in the lower 48 states takes place at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Shasta Cascade.
  • Shasta Lake in Northern California is called the "Houseboat Capital of the World" with more than 400 commercial vehicles for rent.
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park is the largest hydrothermal system west of Yellowstone National Park.
  • The Whiskeytown Dam was built in 1963 and dedicated by President Kennedy; it was his last visit to California before he was assassinated.
  • There are 50 waterfalls within an hour of Redding.
  • The Keddie Wye on the Feather River is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Railroad World, among rail fans for its scenic convergence of tracks, tunnels and trestles.
  • Sundial Bridge in Redding is the world’s largest sundial. It is also the most costly and inaccurate timepiece on earth!
  • The Sacramento River, from Shasta Dam through the city of Redding is considered by fishing experts to be the world’s third best tail water.
  • Whiskeytown Lake takes its name from the Gold Rush mining town beneath its waters, which was inundated after the building of Whiskeytown Dam in 1963.
  • Shasta Dam is the second largest dam in the United States.
  • Mount Lassen last erupted less than 100 years ago with a seven-mile high plume of ash.

Road-Trip Itinerary

To get of the heart of the Shasta Cascade region it’s only a 3 ½ hour drive from Sacramento or a 2 hour drive from Reno.

Day 1

Drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park where you can experience all four types of volcanoes: plug dome, composite, cinder and shield along with bubbling mud, hissing fumaroles, spurting geysers, and amazing colors. Stop at the visitor center and drive the park road for spectacular views. Stop at Sulpher Works to see the plopping mudpots, and steaming vents! Now it’s time to get active and experience the parks largest hydrothermal area by doing the moderate 3 mile Bumpass Hell Hike. This out and back hike leads you to boardwalks where you can walk on top of steaming, bubbling, and boiling pools and fumaroles. The steam temperatures here reach as high as 322F! Spend the night in the park at the lodge or just outside of the park at cabins and enjoy the quiet and dark night skies. Photo © Kirsten Alana

Day 2

Lassen is so special that you’ll want to spend 2 days here in this relaxed and uncrowded park. Choose between two different volcano hikes in the park today. Hike to the top of an active volcano, Lassen Peak, at 10,457 feet with a 2,000 foot elevation gain. The hike is 5 miles round trip and will take about 3 to 5 hours. At the top you’ll be treated to you incredible views causing you to contemplate the power of the 1915 eruption. Or if you are looking for something shorter yet more challenging, hike the desolate but unique Cinder Cone Trail in a more remote area of the park. This trail is only 4 miles round trip but it will take 3 to 4 hours due to the challenging, sandy terrain; with every step you take two up and one back. But the sunset view at the top is worth it. Photo © Kirsten Alana

Day 3

Take a rest today and explore Redding, the biggest city in the region and a great hub to experience Shasta Casade from. Start the day at the Redding’s Sundial Bridge created by Santiago Calatrava; it should be enjoyed from every angle. The pedestrian bridge crosses the Sacramento River near Turtle Bay Exploration, a complex of art, history, discovery centers and gardens; spend the whole morning there! It’s easy to be active in Redding, there are more than 200 miles of hiking, biking, ATV, and equestrian trails all within a 15-mile radius of Redding. Or slow down and wade out in one of the several hundred miles of rivers, creeks, lakes and streams within fly-fishing striking distance. Photo © Kirsten Alana

Day 4

Head north to Lake Shasta and do a dam tour in the morning enjoying the lake views. Then head to Whiskeytown Lake for human powered water sports! Spend an afternoon on a ranger led kayak tour or stand up paddleboard. This free service is offered daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, just call ahead for reservations. The rangers will not only lead you around the lake and point out eagles, but they’ll also give you historical information about the area. If you happen to be there during a full moon, then book a moonlight kayak tour and paddle by moonlight while learning all about the dark skies. If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, then check out the Tower House Historic District. Discover how pioneers/prospectors Charles Camden and Levi Tower reshaped the landscape into an "oasis" for many travelers during and after the California Gold Rush. Don’t go home just yet, head south and check out the Central Valley region to experience the agriculture and see what all of the Shasta Cascade water brings life to. Photo © Kirsten Alana