Things to do to Keep Cool Down by the River
By Kayla Anderson
More to Explore on the Sacramento River
By Kayla AndersonFrom the Klamath Mountains to the Central Valley, the Sacramento River spans 382 miles from Northern California, eventually merging with the San Joaquin River and feeding into the San Francisco Bay.
Photo: Erin Classen
The Sacramento River’s headwaters are located in Mt. Shasta. The Upper Sacramento, Pit River and McCloud rivers flow into Lake Shasta, a reservoir that holds 1.4 trillion gallons of water when full. From there, the Pit, Feather and American rivers continue to be the primary tributaries that nourish the Sacramento River.
Flowing through towns like Mount Shasta, Redding, Red Bluff and Sacramento, the Sacramento River offers plenty of entertainment for water lovers in the North State. Here are some activities to enjoy when it starts getting hot in the valley:
Mt. Shasta City Park: A natural spring with Mt. Shasta snowmelt called Spring Hill serves the headwaters of Upper Sacramento River. Visitors can relax on a bench by the spring or walk along the pathways to take in the crystal-clear water rolling through.
Shasta Lake: Recreation opportunities abound on Lake Shasta’s waterways, with natural coves and channels available for house boating, wakeboarding, kayaking, canoeing or fishing. Mountain biking, hiking and campgrounds are perfect for people who want to be one with nature and have a place to cool off during NorCal’s hot summers.
As water gets released from Shasta Lake Dam, the river finds its way through Redding, a popular spot for trout, bass, sturgeon and salmon. Turtle Bay Exploration Park in the heart of Redding serves as the entrance to the 12.27-mile Sacramento River Trail system, where families and runners/bikers can enjoy incredible views of the river, the Trinity mountains, and fun-to-cross pedestrian bridges. The famous Sundial Bridge that takes people easily from one side of the river to the other is an architectural work of art and one of the largest working sundials in the world.
Just a quick jaunt down from Turtle Bay, find yourself at the Aqua Golf Driving Range on Park Marina Drive. Kill some time before a movie or practice your swing in this inexpensive and fun way to enjoy the Sacramento River.
Raft Redding: Dip your toes in the water and watch the wildlife as you drift down the river in a sturdy raft. From the Sundial
Bridge to Anderson, rafters pass under six bridges and enjoy gentle rapids during about a two-hour trip. North Country Raft Rental even rents out a cataraft for overnight camping trips from Redding to Red Bluff with great access to a rainbow trout fishery.
The Red Bluff River Park has swimming pools, playgrounds and horseshoe pits, but also has a boat ramp and fishing access. Fly-fishing, bait casting, spin casting and trolling help catch the area’s Sockeye Salmon, Brook Trout or Warmouth in the area.
Labor Day River Float in Chico: A good induction to being a college student in Chico is to participate in the annual Labor Day Float. Get your Explorer 5000 or River Rat early so you don’t have to wait in a long line to put air in it. Then use your temporary floating ship to make new friends and end up at the party at Beer Can Beach. Floating the river doesn’t cost anything except what you spend on your tube, but keep in mind that there is a very party-like atmosphere on the Labor Day Float.
Sacramento RiverTrain: Leaving from West Sacramento, this two-hour train ride includes live music and steams over the Fremont Bridge, through the Yolo County Wildlife Reserve and farmland. The train boards a block away from the Sacramento River.
River Walk Park: This public park features picnic areas along the west banks of the river with paved walkways and boating/fishing access from Raley’s landing. Fish species found on this side of the river include catfish, sturgeon and striped bass.
Also a block away from the river in West Sacramento, Raley Field is home to the San Francisco Giants AAA-affiliate team, the Sacramento Rivercats. Along with baseball games, Raley Field hosts 5K runs and other special events year-round.
Old Town Sacramento: Along with Joe’s Crab Shack, various shops and the Sacramento River Bike Trail, people can jump on a Hornblower cruise and check out what’s on the shore while listening to interesting facts about California’s capitol city.
From Sacramento, the river feeds into the California Delta and then into the Pacific Ocean. More boating and fishing opportunities abound with a mix of saltwater and the San Joaquin River blended in. But keep in mind that the water won’t be as crystal clear as what you’ll find at the top.