Skip to main content
Stunning views in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California
1 of 5
Gold panning in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California
2 of 5
Kayak adventures on Shasta Lake in California
3 of 5
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area waterfalls, California
4 of 5
Van Damme State Park coastline in California
5 of 5
  • States:

Northern California is nothing short of stunning.

It features outdoor scenery beyond compare and plenty to discover and explore, from secluded beaches with rocky cliffs to state parks with towering trees and sparkling lakes and falls. Living in Southern California, I had only visited a few areas in Northern California, but after this trip, I will definitely be visiting again soon.

Scenic and Stunning Highway 1

The drive along Highway 1, hugging the coastline around Mendocino, is one of the most gorgeous I’ve been lucky to take. Watching the Pacific Ocean crashing against the cliffs is a picture you will remember for many years to come.

Beautiful and Varied Terrain

There are many state and national parks in Northern California, each with their own unique beauty. The first I visited was Mendocino County’s Van Damme State Park, which covers an area of more than 1,800 acres. Little River, a 5.8-mile-long stream flows through the park and a nature trail leads the way through Pine and Cypress trees. The trail allows hikers of all abilities to visit, and is perfect for some outdoor family fun.

Animal watching in Van Damme State Park, California.

Animal watching in Van Damme State Park, California.
View more
More information

Towering Redwoods

Heading north, my next stop was the magical Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which is over 53,000 acres and includes 17,000 acres of ancient redwood trees, 100 miles of hiking and biking trails, and more than 250 camp sites. I was lucky enough to take a short biking tour of the park, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Walking through the majestic towering redwoods is an experience I will never forget.

Exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park

Next up on my outdoor adventure was amazing Lassen Volcanic National Park, in the Shasta Cascade region, where the main feature, Lassen Peak, is the largest plug dome volcano in the world. Plug dome volcanoes are somewhat circular shaped domes formed from lava rising up too slowly to flow away, therefore creating a build-up which seals the vent. You can hike to glimmering blue lakes and waterfalls as well as steaming mud pots, boiling pools and roaring fumaroles in the park’s most easily accessible hydrothermal area, the Sulphur Works; it was truly a spectacular place to explore.

Visitors enjoying Lassen Volcanic National Park Sulphur Works in California.

Visitors enjoying Lassen Volcanic National Park Sulphur Works in California.
View more

Fun on the Water

If being on the water is more your thing, visit Shasta Lake, situated 10 miles north of the city of Redding. The lake is an extremely popular place for boating, fishing and camping. It is an artificial lake created by the construction of the Shasta Dam and is California’s largest reservoir. The hiking trails and incredible views around Mount Shasta make spending some time there a must during your visit. Another option is wonderful Whiskeytown Lake located in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, eight miles west of Redding, where you can rent a pontoon boat, fishing boat, canoe or kayak.

Lush green nature surrounding Whiskeytown Lake in California.

Lush green nature surrounding Whiskeytown Lake in California.
View more

Awe-Inspiring Falls

Last up was a trip to the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, 60 miles northeast of Redding, home to 910 acres of forest, five miles of lake shoreline and the awe-inspiring 129-foot Burney Falls. This gorgeous cascade was named one of the wonders of the world by America’s 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt. There is a paved half mile hiking trail to visit the falls, or longer, slightly more challenging hikes for the more experienced hikers. I could have stayed all day soaking up the view.

With so much natural beauty and outdoor fun on offer, Northern California should absolutely be on your list of places to visit. I can’t wait to return!