State Park Escapes: Burney Falls


✔Water    ✔Beauty   ✔Nature    ✘Proximity

100 million gallons of water per day cascade down Burney Falls.

Photo by Ken Brown

Many Northern Californians make McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, the second oldest park in the system, a summer destination. The 129-foot falls tumble from the basalt cliff face, 100 million gallons of water cascading every day from its springs, fed by an underground reservoir. An easy trail takes you down for a closer look, and because the water is 42 degrees all year, you’ll feel nature’s air conditioning as you descend. The park’s Lake Britton has plenty of recreation activities.

Wild words: “The eighth wonder of the world.” —President Theodore Roosevelt, describing Burney Falls

Getting There: Fly to Sacramento, then drive 2.5 hours north on Interstate 5 to Redding. From Redding, head east on Highway 299, then north at Highway 89. Redding to Burney Falls takes a little more than an hour.

Eat:  The Rex Club, built in 1938, is one of the oldest restaurants in the nearby town of Burney. Fans praise a staff eager to accommodate special requests. Try the Shells and Tails entree, featuring prawns, green-shell mussels, and clams in a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce ($25). Or stop by the local favorite in Burney, Alpine Drive Inn, for a juicy burger and a huckleberry shake to go. Moonstone Bistro in Redding offers locally sourced dishes such as Moroccan lamb ($26) and St. Helen’s free-range filet mignon ($44).

Rest:  In the summer, a town springs up at the campground with people staking claim to any of the 121 campsites ($35) for many days on end. With a general store, showers, and a nice visitors center, the basics are covered. If you’d rather not pitch a tent, the park offers insulated cabins with bunk beds and covered front porches in two sizes ($83 and $105). If you’re in the mood for something refined and out of the way, try one of the 10 suites at The McCloud River Mercantile Hotel ($130 to $250). Many rooms feature antiques and claw-foot tubs to reflect the history. Or make Redding your launch point and stay at Bridgehouse Bed and Breakfast ($120 to $190), which offers a homemade breakfast and views of the Sacramento River.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is home to the world's tallest tree, but this person is walking across a fallen one.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is home to the world’s tallest tree, but this person is walking across a fallen one.

Photo by Cultura RM/Alamy Stock Photo

Nearby:  One of the trickiest parks to get to but among the most beautiful and serene, Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park must be accessed by boat. Rugged lava rock, clear aqua waters, and tree-covered isles await those willing to make the voyage, just 45 minutes from Burney Falls. A trip to Northern California should include a visit to the Redwoods. Choose Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to the tallest tree in the world, a nearly 369-foot giant in the Rockefeller Forest. Or head toward the northern border of California to visit the ultra lush Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, where you’re likely to find large elk. Redding to Prairie Creek is a 3.5-hour drive.

Save money! Get a discount for Moro Cove Campground at Crystal Cove State Park until March 18. Sunday through Thursday is 40 percent off, and Friday and Saturday is 25 percent off. Go to the Reserve America page and enter the code SWEETBEACHDEAL when making your reservations.

Tips: Click here for some tips for visiting the state parks.

Parks close to home: Click here to find out about state parks in Orange County.

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