HIdden in a Haze of Heat - My Family Travels

      Redding, California is not usually high on the summer destination list of travelers. Known primarily for the extreme heat (with temperatures reaching upwards of 110ËšF) and not much else, Redding is often bypassed in favor of cities to the north and south with milder climates and happening cultural scenes.

     But these cautious travelers are missing out. Just within Redding itself, visitors can eat at a wide variety of restaurants ranging from casual eateries to more sophisticated establishments, with live music featured all around town. The ethnic food in particular is worth trying. Looking for other diversions? Try a stroll along the world-famous Sundial Bridge, designed by award winning, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The Sundial is located next to Turtle Bay Exploration Park, spanning the beautiful Sacramento River (an excellent refuge during the warmer summer days). Turtle Bay Exploration Park itself is also worth a look, a delightful educational experience for families or any adult curious about the natural world. Visitors with more active inclinations meanwhile, should try the Sacramento River Trail, a network of paths for walking, running and biking that branches from the center of Redding all the way up to nearby Shasta Dam.


            Outside the city itself, tourist attractions become even more enticing. North of Redding lies Shasta Lake, a paradise for boaters, water-skiers and others looking to beat the heat. The nearby Shasta Caverns offer a fascinating adventure for anybody with an interest in geology or for those simply looking for a cool (in both senses of the word) way to spend the afternoon.

            East of Redding is Lassen Volcanic National Park, a lesser known National Park but worth visiting nonetheless. Home to Mt. Lassen, the largest known plug dome volcano in the world, the park features beautiful lakes, meadows and waterfalls with hiking trails for all levels of difficulty. Visitors intrigued by the volcanic history should visit the sulphur works of Bumpass Hell and the Devastated Area of the last eruption, two of the most unique and fascinating regions of the park. Opportunities to learn about the history of the park, both geological and cultural, abound when visitors take time to walk the labeled trails and visit the local museum. The distance from any major metropolitan area also causes minimal light pollution, producing astonishingly clear views of the starry night skies. Lassen Park makes full use of this by offering night hikes and hosting the Lassen Dark Sky Festival in August for all visitors interested in stargazing and learning about the vast universe outside of our lonely planet.

            As far as overnight stays go, Lassen accommodates all levels of “roughing it.” For those seeking a comfortable stay that does not require them to forgo any accustomed amenities, the Drakesbad Guest Ranch on the eastern side of the park is an excellent option. Offering horseback riding, massages and dining, Drakesbad constitutes an ideal base from which to explore the park on small day trips. Slightly more Spartan are the camping cabins located near the beautiful Manzanita Lake. With a campground store in short walking distance, these are good options for visitors not already equipped with necessary camping gear. For those visitors who are interested in and equipped for camping, plenty of options are at hand. Visit the park website for a comprehensive list of the sites available. And lastly, for the intrepid backpackers, numerous trails and sites are located throughout the park, offering serene mountain lakes and scenic views. But be forewarned: insect repellent is a necessity.

            When visitors are willing to brave the heat, Redding and its surrounding areas hold a treasure trove of outdoor opportunities. 

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