Day 1: Explore Redding
Get a feel for your new base camp and spend the day exploring Redding! Start by visiting Shasta State Historic Park - these ruins are silent but eloquent vestiges of the intense activity of the California gold rush. The County Courthouse has been restored to its 1861 appearance and is filled with historical exhibits and an unparalleled collection of historic California artwork.
After that continue on to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. There you can go hiking, mountain biking, and even horseback riding. But the main attraction is definitely Whiskeytown Lake - with 36 miles of shoreline it’s perfect for swimming, fishing, paddling, and boating.
Finish the day by exploring Turtle Bay Exploration Park. This 300-acre campus includes an underground aquarium, Native American history and exhibits, interactive experiments, rotating art exhibits, wildlife exhibits, Paul Bunyan's Forest Camp, California's largest North American butterfly house (seasonal), an amphitheater, and the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens. Have dinner at the neighboring restaurant Mosaic, then close out the evening with an after-dinner stroll on the Sundial Bridge.
Day 2: National & State Park Loop
Spend your second day exploring some of the area's most gorgeous parks. First head to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park - Huffington Post Travel declared Burney Falls the “most beautiful waterfall in North America,” and unsurprisingly, no one disagreed. This stunning wonder flows year-round from underground springs, into a picture perfect, misty pool. Trails take you along the water and up to the top of the falls. The majestic waterfall pumps more than 100 gallons of water per day down the 129-foot drop.
Once you've explored Burney Falls, head on over to Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park boasts incredible mountain scenery reminiscent of Yosemite as well as fascinating thermal wonders similar to Yellowstone with just a small fraction of the visitors. Explore alpine lakes, bubbling mud pots - you can even hike to the top of an active volcano! Stay into the evening and see the stars in one of the last few sanctuaries of natural darkness, or come during the winter months and go on a free ranger-led snowshoe tour.
Day 3: Mount Shasta
Majestic Mt. Shasta serves as an icon for the region, jutting up above the landscape at 14,179 feet. Spend your day exploring the mountain, starting with the picturesque town of Mt. Shasta. Situated at the base of the peak, the town offers an assortment of specialty stores, quaint boutiques, gift shops, and old-fashioned markets. Then head up to the mountain to Mt Shasta Ski Park - the park offers 425 acres of outstanding downhill skiing and boarding, as well as tubing and cross-country skiing. In the summer, the park becomes a mountain biking paradise, complete with electric bikes and vertical lifts.
On your way back from Mt. Shasta, don't forget to stop and check out Hedge Creek Falls. The waterfall is accessible via a short hiking trail, and has a small cave located behind the waterfall, allowing visitors to walk behind the cascading water.
Day 4: River Rafting
Head west to Trinity County and ride the rapids on the Trinity River! Guided rafting trips are offered for all skill levels, so whether or not you're climbing into a raft for the first time, or a seasoned pro, you'll be having fun. Once you've conquered the river, stop for a bite at the historic town of Weaverville. Walk down the town's main street for a step back in time, or go to Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park and see the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in California.
Day 5: Lava Beds National Monument
Travel some of the area's scenic byways to reach Lava Beds National Monument. Home to over 700 caves, Lava Beds offers something for everyone to explore, from the most experienced spelunker, to those entering a cave for their first time. Pair this with trails, Native American rock art sites, and historic battlefields, and you'll have no problem spending the day exploring your new favorite park!
Day 6: Castle Crags State Park
Spend Day six exploring Castle Crags State Park - named for its 6,000-feet tall glacier-polished crags. Whether you need breathtaking views or just a pleasant walk in nature, Castle Crags has something for you. There are more than 28 miles of trails, including the rigorous 6.5-mile Castle Dome Trail. You gain just over 2,000 feet in elevation and the rare chance to see the unparalleled view of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding valleys. If you aren’t up for the strenuous hike to the dome, there is an accessible paved 0.25-mile trail to a vista point where you can still get an excellent view of the park features.
Day 7: Shasta Lake
Spend your final day back in Redding and explore Shasta Lake. Tour a dam, explore caverns, and take in the beauty of the lake itself for a fun-filled day you won't soon forget! Start by taking a boat out on the lake itself, and explore its 360 miles of shoreline. Wakeboard, jetski, or just float on a raft and enjoy the water.
Next visit Shasta Dam and take the free guided tour. The tours comprise a 428-foot elevator ride to the base of the dam, and visits to the dam's inner galleries and the powerhouse among other areas.
Finally, no visit to Shasta Lake is complete without a trip to see Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark - three adventures in one! Start the tour with a catamaran cruise across Shasta Lake, then hop on a bus and make your way to the beautiful and historic limestone caves. Once there, you'll be taken on a guided tour of caves that have been 250 million years in the making!