Redding celebrates as the Sun Dial Bridge reaches 10th anniversary!

Couple poses under the Sun Dial Bridge's delicate filigree of cables spanning the Sacramento River in Redding.

 

The approach to the iconic Sun Dial Bridge in Redding shows off its modern and airy structure.
Shasta’s old stores and hotels are mere skeletons, preserved in Shasta State Historic Park!
Western Star Masonic Temple, dating to 1854, is oldest Masonic Temple in CA, and anchors Shasta’s Main Street, Hwy. 299.
Weaverville is a quaint and historic Gold Rush town, just 40 miles west of Redding.
Trinity Lake, normally brimming with water, is down 100+ feet due to the drought; old dredge mine tailings are visible in this photo near lake’s north end.

Celebrate with Redding; its iconic Sun Dial Bridge marks 10 years; Turtle Bay Exploration Park makes for great vacation destination!

For years, Redding was the last big city when headed up Interstate 5 on the way to Mt. Shasta, Portland or Spokane.  Our only reason to exit the freeway was to get gas or find food.

All that has changed in the past 10 years as this “Gateway to the Shasta Area” has added world-class visitor amenities and an iconic bridge that celebrates its 10th anniversary in the next two weeks.  Redding, with the Sun Dial Bridge, Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Sacramento River Trail for bicycling and walking –as well as the languid Sacramento River – now draws thousands of visitors each week.

A side benefit is that so many other nearby attractions are just an hour or so away, including Sierra and Cascade  mountain range scenery, Shasta Dam and Lake, Mt. Shasta, Lassen Park and the Trinity Alps Wilderness.  Toss in Gold Rush history and you have a destination worth a several day or week-long visit, just three hours north of Stockton.

Just off I-5, Redding offers up the stunning Turtle Bay Exploration Park, complete with museum, art gallery, forest camp, wildlife exhibits, an amphitheater and the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens.  The park has something for young and old, explains the history, cultureand peoples of the Redding area.  And the world-renowned Sun Dial Bridge adds to the park’s luster! 

The bridge, designed by Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, is a technical and artistic wonder.  Linking both sides of the Sacramento River and the two halves of the park. It opened just ten years ago. The bridge is an actual 220 foot-tall sun dial, accurate at summer solstice.  The slender sun dial tower holds up this marvelous steel and glass suspension bridge with filigree cables, all designed to leave a light footprint spanning the river. 

For the two weeks leading up to the 4th of July, the town celebrates the Sun Dial Bridge anniversary with a host of events culminating on July 4.  They include dance and music on the bridge, the Sundial Music Fest, eves of June 22-25, Brews by the Bridge on June 27 (brew festival), a family float and race on the river, and evening music, food and fun at the Civic Auditorium, both on June 28, and Redding’s Freedom Festival on the national holiday (for details, go to: www.turtlebay.org).

Across the bridge is a 90 mile network of walking and biking trails, presenting days of exploration options.  Cyclists can tour on paved trails all the way to the Shasta Dam or go east or west along the scenic Sacramento River (offering plenty of fishing options, from shoreline angling to guided float trips).  And, stop off at the Shasta Sate Historic Park, just six miles to the west off the Sacramento River Trail. 

The old town of Shasta was, in the 1850s, one of the bustling boom towns on the way to the Trinity gold fields, a bit further to the west.  When gold ran thin, this old town faded away, but much of its old grandeur is preserved in the state park.  Stroll the boardwalk and the ghosts of gold miners walk with you.  The Shasta Museum tells the story of the city and its explosive growth in the Gold Rush; the old Masonic Lodge, still in use, is the oldest in the state! 

Thirty miles further west on Hwy. 299 is another quaint town, Weaverville, and from there you are less than an hour from Trinity Lake and the spectacular Trinity Alps Wilderness Area.  Campgrounds surround these old towns and both Redding and Weaverville offer a host of inexpensive to more pricey motels/hotels.  Boating, fishing and wilderness exploration bring thousands of additional visitors each season.

Chose to explore the mountains to the east – spectacular Lassen Volcanic National Park is just 45 miles away on Hwy. 44.  Go north 10 miles to the always stunning Lake Shasta (though, in the throes of a three-year drought, the water level is down about 100 feet, taking a bit of the glamor away from lake views).

The Sun Dial Bridge and Turtle Bay Park have helped Redding bring its residents and visitors “back to the river”.  With 300 days of sunshine and a long summer, Redding has added to its reputation as a vacation destination.  Plan a long weekend visit, or a week’s vacation and enjoy the many exciting options in nearby N. California.

What’s nearby: Shasta Dam, Lake Shasta and Mt. Shasta to the north, Weaverville and the Trinity Alps Wilderness area to west; Lassen Volcanic National Park to the east.  Redding is truly the Gateway to the Shasta area, northern Sierra and Cascade ranges and some of our state’s most beautiful scenery!  The area offers a wealth of campgrounds, motels, restaurants, Gold Rush history and quiet backroads.

How to get there: From Stockton, it’s three hours and 206 miles; go north on I-5 for 205 miles, take Redding’s Hwy. 44 exit, then go west one mile to Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

When to go: Redding is a year-around vacation destination, though mid-summer can be very hot; late summer and early fall are best choices (and, late September, early October offer superb fall foliage tours).

What to see while there: The Sun Dial Bridge and the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, hiking and biking trails that fan out in three directions and the Sacramento River!

What to take: Good walking shoes, bicycles if a cyclist, snacks, drinks, a good map or GPS unit and your camera!

For more info: For more insight into Redding’s attractions, go to www.visitredding.com, or call 530-225-4100/1-800-874-7562; for Turtle Bay Exploration Park and the Sun Dial Bridge, www.turtlebay.org, 800-887-8532 or 530-243-8850; for info on the walking/biking trail system, www.reddingtrails.com; for Shasta State Historic Park, www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=456; (530) 243-8194.

Next week, we explore the big ships/war ships of the San Francisco Bay Area, like the USS Hornet aircraft carrier in Alameda and the “Ghost Fleet” in the Carquinez Straights. 

For additional travel destination inspiration, see my blog: http://blogs.eSanJoaquin.com/valleytravel; to contact me, tviall@msn.com.  Happy travels in the west!

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