Lassen County
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A Cascade Sunday Drive - 10 day

10 Days / 9 Nights

Ever wanted to travel to an area where nearly every road is a scenic byway and those that aren’t could be?  Far northern California in the Shasta Cascade area is a scenic road junkie’s dream.  The Yuba Donner Scenic Byway, route of the ill-fated Donner party into California leads into the Feather River Scenic Byway.  The Volcanic Legacy National Scenic Byway takes you through Lassen Volcanic National Park and ultimately scenic roads take you over to the California coast and back.  Few areas in America have this wealth of scenic roads.  

In between your wonderful meandering drives, you can explore authentic small towns, many of which haven't changed dramatically in 150 years; enjoy the hospitality and slower pace of these places.  Selected museums and historic sites reveal the region’s unique story.  Natural areas, National Park Service affiliates and wildlife refuge areas feature spectacular glimpses of nature year round.  No less than three Ring of Fire volcanoes have dramatic impact on the landscape.  Looming majestically overhead, the mountains illustrate the profound power of nature.  

Tie all of those wonderful experiences together with visits to local craft breweries, restaurants featuring  local cuisine, and shops filled with locally produced products,  you get a wonderful sense that is sure to make you glad you took time for a scenic drive through Shasta Cascade.  

Day One

As you begin your trip, San Francisco opens her Golden Gates to beckon you to “lose your heart.” Prepare to experience a wealth of vibrant sights and sounds found nowhere else.  The city’s reputation as a fun-loving rollicking place is well deserved, dating back to the Gold Rush era when jumping saloons were filled with prospectors with stories to tell.  The city has held out a welcome hand to all and today magically blends a myriad of cultures, ethnic groups, and lifestyles. Mountains and coastlines add a beautiful natural backdrop to this very colorful place.  To enjoy the natural beauty, plan to get out to experience San Francisco during free time; walk on the beach  or ride a cable car to the top of Nob Hill where incredible views await.  

We will assist you to familiarize yourself with San Francisco on the Barbary Coast Trail, a 3.8 mile route following bronze medallions set in the sidewalks that connect 20 of the city’s most important locations. Marvel at a collection of historic ships, the first Asian temple in America, the birthplace of the Gold Rush and more.  Follow that with a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can have incredible views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the cityscape along with your seafood. Nearby Ghirardelli Square transformed a 19th century chocolate factory into a fabulous marketplace of restaurants featuring new one-of-a-kind shops and culinary experts from around the world.  The tour will also take you past San Francisco’s famous “Painted Ladies;” blocks and blocks of Victorian homes that survived the fire of 1906.  

And of course, no visit to San Francisco is complete without a stop in Chinatown. Enjoy authentic Chinese food and revel in the excitement of this electric part of the city.  

Day Two

Imagine the natural forces that created awe-inspiring Lake Tahoe when erupting ancient Mount Pluto closed the north end of a deep caldera with hot lava.  Uplifting earthquakes pushed the surrounding mountain peaks past 10,000 feet.  For centuries before the first American explorers set foot on Lake Tahoe, it was a summer gathering place for several tribes of peaceful Washo Indians, who considered it a sacred and spiritual place.  Not long after Kit Carson explored the area, silver was discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Fortune seekers and would-be miners rushed to the area.  By the turn of the century, luxury hotels catered to San Francisco’s elite, who also built summer homes and “cottages” around the lake, some of which still exist.  The 1960 Winter Olympics firmly established Lake Tahoe as the skiing center of the western United States.  Remarkably, the beauty of the lake and the authentic charm of the area have prevailed utilizing ancient Washo wisdom to promote environmentally responsible development.

You’ll have the pleasure of taking the Lake Tahoe West Shore drive, for breathtaking views of the crystal blue lake, with water so clear that you can see objects 75 feet below. Sunk deep into a mountain valley, ringed by majestic snow covered mountains, this drive is viewed by some as the “most beautiful drive in America.”   As you stand at Inspiration Point, we know you’ll agree.  

Leaving South Lake Tahoe, a stop at the Tallac Historic Site delivers a fascinating look into Tahoe’s past.  The historic resort is surrounded by century old mansions (or summer “cottages” as they were called by their owners).  Enjoy the striking views of Cascade Lake and Emerald Bay, followed by Eagle Falls.  The drive ends in Incline Village, location of your evening accommodations.

Day Three

Leaving out of Tahoe this morning you’ll first be catching the Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway on your way to Chico, where the heritage emerges right out of the Old West.

Chico is the cultural center of the Sacramento Valley, and was founded in 1860 by General John Bidwell.  When Rancho Arroyo Chico was acquired by General Bidwell in 1860, he brought Mrs. Bidwell, the daughter of a prominent Washington, DC family back to his home. As you stroll downtown Chico viewing the extensive public art collection, view the Chico timeline at the Chico Museum.  In Red Bluff, you’ll discover the challenges of maintaining life on the frontier at the William Ide Adobe Ranch State Historic Park, where living history portrays the special skills needed to exist away from the urban centers. Exhibits also reveal the far reaching impact Ide had on the state as the author of the California Republic proclamation.  

Day Four

Get an early start exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park this morning, where another Ring of Fire volcano awaits!  The main park road offers a variety of scenic vistas and access to hiking trails.  Lake Helen at the base of Lassen Peak lays at such a high elevation that snow and ice often last into mid-summer.  Traversing the entire park, you will encounter ecosystems similar to Yellowstone National Park, including alpine meadows and thermal vents.  The Bumpass Hell Trail is the most accessible way to experience the largest hydrothermal area, which scientists believe are getting hotter. The cinder cone area with Fairfield Peak, Hat Mountain, and Crater Butte is forested with pine and fir. Warner Valley, featuring hot spring areas--Boiling Springs Lake, Devils Kitchen, and Terminal Geyser boasts a forested steep with a gorgeous large meadow.

You’ll have the opportunity to stop at the Subway Cave, Burney Falls, McCloud and Castle Crags State Park on your way to Mt. Shasta, a magnificent mountain that juts an imposing 14,179 feet above sea level.  Famed naturalist, John Muir responded “When I first caught sight of Mount Shasta over the braided folds of the Sacramento Valley, my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.”  

Day Five

To really enjoy Mt. Shasta, you have to experience Mt. Shasta!  Bring your camera and while you are recording wonderful scenic images of waterfalls, lakes and mountain vistas, a guide who is available and can be arranged to entertain you with local history, myths and legends about the Mount Shasta area.  Shasta Vortex Adventures will take you to where “heaven and earth” meet on the mountain.  

After traveling on the Smith River Scenic Byway over to the coast, we know you’ll agree that the majesty of the world’s tallest trees in Redwood National Park and surrounding California State Parks rival magnificent Mt. Shasta.  The trees are so special here that the parks are both a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, designations that reflect worldwide awareness of resources that are irreplaceable.

Day Six

The National Park Service describes the trees of Redwood National Park as “immense, ancient, stately, mysterious, and powerful. We know you’ll add your own words when you stand below one of these timeless giants.  Why they grow so tall is a mystery.  Take your time, meander the coast and savor the time to be totally immersed in these incredible trees.  

The Redwoods are rich in Visitors Centers, exhibits and scenic drives.   Redwood Highway 101 traverses the heart of Del Norte State Park.  Howland Hill Road, nestled deep in the forest, puts you in the heart of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Enderts Beach Road offers elk-viewing, whale watching and stunning coastal views.  Further south, Requa Road features breathtaking views from the Klamath River Overlook, towering 650 feet about the sea.  The Coastal Drive Loop delivers stunning views of crashing waves and rugged coastline.  Five Visitor Centers feature different aspects of the story and a variety of ranger-led programs are available.  

Day Seven

This morning you’ll take the slow road — Trinity River Scenic Byway — to meander back towards Redding and Shasta Lake.  Savor the drive from the Redwood Coast back to the Valley Oaks.  Plan to stop in Weaverville, the real live movie set for Shangri-La, to stretch your legs.  Take a bit of time to stroll around, explore the art galleries and relax.  

Redding is as rich in history as it is in natural beauty.  The area has been continuously occupied since about the year 1000.  Pierson Reading, the first non-native settler, like John Sutter of Gold Rush fame, received a Mexican land grant, which at the time was the northern-most non-native settlement in California. Today, the population in the region is nearing 200,000.

Plan to spend the afternoon at Turtle Bay Exploration Park for a great introduction to the Redding area.  Turtle Bay Museum, featuring the natural environment, historic recreations and art — all richly layered in interpretive material — is the heart of the Turtle Bay Experience.   Native American culture is featured in the Wintu bark house display.  The timber-themed forest camp delivers history of lumbering in northern California.  Stroll through 20 acres of the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens accessed by walking over the Sundial Bridge, a true work of art set in nature.  Steel and glass appear weightless as if floating over the river — “celebrating human creativity and ingenuity.”  

Enjoy one of the several lodging accommodations in Redding from a romantic B&B overlooking the Sacramento River to more standard lodging along the palm tree accented Hilltop Drive.  

Day Eight

You’ll have an all “Shasta” day today, exploring Lake Shasta Caverns, the Shasta Dam and Shasta State Historic Park.  The entire Lake Shasta Caverns experience is an adventure.  To reach the caverns, you’ll enjoy a scenic cruise across the lake and from there, a bus to the cavern entrance.  Once inside, you will marvel at the massive limestone caverns, the largest in California.  Stalactites and stalagmites connecting roof and floor are reflected in sparkling pools.  Follow your guide on the well-lit path while listening to an information filled tour about the geology and ecology of the caverns.

Traveling along the Shasta Lake Scenic Byway will take you to a tour through Shasta Dam, which holds back the largest reservoir of water in California. After a tour of the visitors center to learn the basic story of the dam, you’ll be taking a 428 foot elevator ride to the base of the dam to visit the dam’s powerhouse, inner galleries and more.  

After some lunch in Redding, it’s time to get back to land! Lusty Shasta City, the “Queen City” of California’s mining district is still standing in Shasta State Historic Park.  Once the center of the California Gold Rush, the buildings that stand empty and quiet are all silent but eloquent vestiges of the intense activity that was centered here during that time.  The County Courthouse has been restored to its 1861 appearance and filled with historical exhibits and an unparalleled collection of historic California artwork.  

Day Nine

On your way to California’s wine country, continue your serene exploration at New Clarivaux Vineyard, an Abbey of Trappist monks who live a daily routine dating back to 12th century Europe. The variety of wines produced by New Clairvaux take advantage of the warmer climate of the Sacramento valley and are mostly well known Spanish varieties.  For more local lore in Corning, visit Lucero Olive Oil, which has been growing olives for three generations.  Enjoy your visit meeting these wonderful people before moving on to the Napa Valley.

You’ll find wine country lushly covered with acre after acre of vineyards, and row upon row of vines covering the hillsides.  The name 'Napa' is derived from the Wappo Indians who once shared the lush green valley with deer, grizzly bears, elk and panthers until farmers began settling in the 1830s, lured by the rich volcanic soil and an ideal growing season. The original vineyards were established with cuttings supplied by the Catholic Missions in Sonoma and San Rafael in 1861.

Day Ten

The only way to see California Wine Country is on the Wine Train, which runs up and down the valley.  Departing at 10:30 AM, you’ll be touring the Raymond Family Vineyards where your adventure begins at Raymond’s Theater of Nature.  You will explore wines, vineyards, and winemaking practices that highlight their commitment to organic and biodynamic farming practices and sample Raymond’s wine as you are guided through a comprehensive tour. A gourmet lunch is served on the train as you are delivered back to your starting point.  We wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.

Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association
1699 HWY 273, Anderson, CA 96007 | (P) 530-365-7500 | (F) 530-365-1258
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