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Itâ€™s autumn in Northern California, with the foliage that grew all spring and summer long have turned to fantastic bright colors. As with any season change, this makes for new opportunities to explore the wonderful areas of NorCal, and thereâ€™s no better place to accomplish that than in Redding, California.
When the fall colors reach their peak, there are so many beautiful areas to explore near Redding. From the nearby National Parks, to the massive waterfalls and beyond, the diverse landscape of NorCal is in full display within just a short drive.
Let’s explore five different road trips near Redding to experience the beautiful fall color:
Lassen Volcanic National Highway
Sitting right outsideÂ ReddingÂ is one of the most underrated National Parks in the United States, loaded with pristine wildlife, beautiful hikes, giant waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes and an active volcano. Itâ€™s typically not one of the National Parks youâ€™ll hear when listing Americaâ€™s most popular parks, and thatâ€™s a good thing.
The Lassen Volcanic National Highway is the singular road that will take you anywhere you need to go in the park. The 30-mile drive will bring you past Manzanita Lake, Lake Helen and Sulphur Works, with views of Lassen Peak, Brokeoff Mountain and Chaos Crags throughout.
In the fall, the park’s lush meadows and trees turn to distinct yellow and orange colors, providing a unique beauty only found briefly in Lassen. On your drive, you can stop at any of the various lakes for a quick dip, or even accomplish a short hike like Kings Creek Falls or Bumpass Hell. This may be the most beautiful drive in all of Northern California.
Redding to Mount Shasta
The drive from Redding to Mount Shasta on Interstate 5 is one of the most iconic in California. The hour commute will take you past Shasta Lake and along the Sacramento River for some epic views. In the fall, the foliage comes alive for a unique experience.
After leaving Redding, you’ll be immediately met by Shasta Lake, California’s largest recreational reservoir. You’ll pass by the entrance of Lake Shasta Caverns as you zig-zag up the mountain along the McCloud Arm of the lake, eventually catching views of the Upper Sacramento River.
As you drive up I-5, you’ll eventually pass NorCal gems like Castle Crags and Hedge Creek Falls, eventually ending in the town of Mount Shasta. See the fall color in full effect at local outdoor destinations like Sisson Meadows, Lake Siskiyou and Faery Falls. The best part of the road trip is ending with epic views of the mighty Mount Shasta.
Whiskeytown to Weaverville
The windy road on Highway 299 west of Redding is a legendary commute. When you leave Redding, you’ll drive through the “ghost town” of Old Shasta along with its beautiful ruins. Beyond that point, you’ll see some of the best nature NorCal has to offer.
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is known for its beautiful fall colors. Along the ride on 299 you’ll drive over Whiskeytown Lake, with views of the mountains and beaches surrounding the crystal clear water.
After Whiskeytown, you’ll drive up the windy grade to Buckhorn summit, with stunning views of the valley below. As you head west down the summit, you’ll begin to see areas of the Trinity River, a world-class fishing and rafting gem. The foliage on the Trinity is truly stunning in the fall months.
Driving through the town of Douglas City, you’ll eventually end your trip in the historic town of Weaverville. The old Gold Rush town was founded in 1850 and the history of the area is in full display, including the Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park, the oldest Taoist temple in California. Views of Weaverville’s tree-lined roads and Gold Rush era buildings are a beautiful end to your trip.
Hat Creek to Burney Falls
Just past the north entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park sits Hat Creek, a small community sitting on the banks of one of NorCal’s best fisheries. Driving from there along Highway 89 to Burney is known as the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, and the foliage is fantastic in the fall.
As you drive through Hat Creek, you see spectacular views of the river, which can be small in some areas, and large in others. The landscape is full of rural cabins and campsites taking in the beauty of the Lassen National Forest.
Once you reach Burney, there’s a destination that will dazzle the eyes – The Eighth Wonder of the World. There’s only a short period of time each year in which the trees surrounding Burney Falls turn to an autumn orange – and boy is it spectacular. The fall views of the 129-foot Burney Falls are well worth the hour drive from Redding.
Redding to Chico
After the dry summer months, the City of Trees comes alive in Butte County with spectacular fall colors. The drive from Redding to Chico is one of the most beautiful experiences in the Autumn months.
Driving south down Interstate 5 will bring you through Red Bluff with stunning views of the Sacramento River. From there, you can take Highway 99 through the beautiful small towns of Los Molinos and Copeland, driving through the colorful orchards of Tehama County.
Once you arrive in Chico, take a ride on the Esplanade to see the town’s trees blooming to extreme colors. The orange, yellow and red leaves will brighten your day as you make you way into downtown, which is a great place to walk around and grab a meal.