Think alfresco! From small executive retreats to company-wide conferences, the meeting planner team at Visit Redding can help design and implement outdoor fun for any group and offers an array of complimentary services including event planning, site negotiations and familiarization tours.
“Our team is at the ready to help with all the meeting and event details. We are focused on the needs of your group and offer rejuvenating, educational and inspirational outdoor ideas to make your meeting a memorable one,” explains Jennifer Fontana, Industry Relations /Group Coordinator at Visit Redding. Give them a call, their priorities are in order: kayaking, hiking, boating and more.
Is your corporate retreat all wet? It could be! Trinity River Rafting offers groups tours. Collaboration and coordination is the name of the game as teams paddle together through white-water rapids. Redding Jet Boat Tours depart from the famous Sundial Bridge, taking groups on a scenic ride down the Sacramento River aboard a custom-built 26-foot jet boat. At Headwaters Adventure Company, experienced paddlers demonstrate all the right moves to help you enjoy your kayaking and paddleboarding experience on Whiskeytown Lake. Shuttle Service is available for groups, nine or fewer. Ranger-led tours are offered for small groups by special request through Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Or just breathe with Audrey Delong’s On Water Yoga. The Zen of paddleboarding, outings are tailored for private events.
Go Back in Time
Enjoy a scenic 10-minute catamaran cruise to Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark and one-hour tour of what some geologists consider one of the most beautiful limestone caves in America. Then there’s the Lava Beds National Monument. This land of turmoil, both geological and historical, will make problem solving back at the office seem like a piece of cake. More than 700 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and high desert wilderness experiences await your group.
Wild and Crazy
Redding’s newest contact sport revolutionizes team building experiences. ManaBall provides more than 30 customized and coordinated extreme bubble-ball games. An exciting twist on traditional sports, team players are wrapped in a giant, soft inflatable Bubble Ball with shoulder harnesses and handles inside! Bonding has never been more hilarious.
Before and After Hours
Located at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, the Sundial Bridge is an architectural and artistic marvel and one of the largest working sundials in the world. Silhouetted above the Sacramento River, the glass-decked pedestrian bridge is illuminated at night. A memorable way for groups to gather, the Bridge Amphitheater and North Plaza offer unique settings for outdoor parties, ceremonies, and receptions.
Downtown Redding is ready to fulfill all your after-hour needs to shop, dine, and enjoy live music and other entertainment. Savor everything from casual to fine dining, as well as wine tasting rooms, craft beer bars, and dance clubs for after-hours merriment. The Redding Civic Auditorium, convention hotels, and local vineyards also welcome groups of all sizes.
Redding Municipal Airport provides commercial airline passenger service via United, with direct flights to San Francisco, and Pen Air offers direct flights to Portland. If you prefer to charter your own plane, aviation services and aircraft hangar facilities are available to make your trip memorable. Car rentals, Amtrak and Greyhound service, buses, taxis, limousines, bicycle rentals, and even pedicabs are another way to see the sites and get around. Shuttle service and group ice breaker from Sacramento International sets an upbeat tone.
Redding is located at the northern end of the Sacramento Valley, two hours north of Sacramento and three hours northeast of San Francisco. With more than 300 days of sunshine, Redding is truly your year-round outdoor destination. Nearby scenic lakes, rivers, national forests, state and national parks – Shasta State Historic Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and Lassen Volcanic National Park – make Redding a fantastic base-camp. Redding is conveniently located at the crossroads of Interstate-5 and California state routes 299 and 44.
Roughly the size of Ireland, the Shasta Cascade region is the perfect place to get back to nature, relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Comprised of eight rural counties, this majestic Northern California region is dotted with lakes, rivers and mountains and includes three national parks, six national forests and 12 California state parks.
Boarding the boat for our trip to Anacapa Island – part of the Channel Islands National Park – we could hear an infant crying. Certainly most everyone was thinking, “Oh, great! A baby on a 12-mile boat trip! Are you nuts?” The Island Packers' boat, Vanguard, began its slow journey through the calm waters of Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. Out into the open sea, we started to rock and bob – the infant was asleep within seconds. The rest of us faced forward, eyes wide open, awaiting a glimpse of the elusive Anacapa Island. Those of us beyond the rhythmic lullabies of babies could take solace in the postcard-perfect weather – light breeze, blue skies, and warm sun – as we embarked on our half-day journey to a land nearly forgotten by time.
When considering boarding a 68-foot-long boat to take a 12-mile trip out into open seas, traveling with children under the age of five probably doesn’t come to mind. However, our group included families with children of all ages and an infant. With just two miles of trails, Anacapa’s landscape is easy hiking and perfect for younger visitors – even parents packing a baby. The visitor’s center provides welcome shade and picnic tables for a lunchtime break. The center also has great interpretive displays and houses the original crystal and brass Fresnel lens from the island lighthouse. The landing cove offers great opportunities for snorkeling, swimming and kayaking – even for the younger set. The water temperatures are warmest during the summer months, topping out at around 65°. It’s a good idea to monitor exposure to the water or come equipped with dive suits.
Kids and parents will enjoy a thrilling below-water view through Anacapa’s underwater video program. Viewed by television from the island’s landing dock at or the mainland visitor center, this unique program features an interpretive dive through one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, the kelp forest. Kids can talk directly to the ranger interpreter and ask questions about the watery world below. This amazing program is available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the landing cove of Anacapa Island. It is open to the public free of charge and occurs at 2:00 p.m from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Off-shore, California sea lions and harbor seals are frequently seen and heard barking up a storm at overlooks Cathedral Cove and Pinniped Point. They are often seen during the Channel crossing – bobbing along and seemingly waving as you pass. Several varieties of whales and dolphins are spotted year-round on trips to Anacapa – and with luck you may find a pod of orca or common dolphin playing in the boat’s wake.
Despite obvious signs of human habitation, Anacapa retains much of its natural rugged beauty. Anacapa consists of three small islets, East, Middle and West, which are inaccessible from each other except by boat. Visitation is limited to the East islet and Frenchy’s Cove on the West islet. Most of island is primarily wilderness set aside for nesting Western gulls and the endangered California brown pelican. In the spring, kids and adults marvel at the throng of nesting gulls. Later in the season, downy baby gulls wait quietly, or not, for doting parents to feed them. And undulating brown pelicans soar overhead or line the cliffs overlooking the landing cove on East Anacapa.
In general, the island has a Mediterranean climate but the weather can be most unforgiving and dense fog is common during late spring. Calm winds and seas are more frequent at summer’s end. Consider seasonal changes when planning a trip to Anacapa or any of the Channel Islands.
The closest of the five islands that make-up the national park, Anacapa is only a ½-mile wide, about 5 miles long, with 200-foot cliffs. Though fairly stark in its natural state, non-native ice plant, a brilliant red, now blankets much of the island. Originally planted to prevent erosion, the creeping, mat-forming succulent is being removed as part of an environmental rehabilitation of the island. In the spring, forests of giant yellow coreopsis seem other-worldly. Other wildflowers – pale pink island mallow, vivid red paintbrush, and tiny island morning glories – create an eye-catching palette of colors across the island.
It’s fitting that Anacapa is the only one of the five Channel Islands to retain its American Indian name "Eneepah,” derived from a Chumach word meaning island of deception or mirage. I can tell you, this island is no mirage. It’s a dream come true for kids of all ages – grown-ups too!
When traveling to Anacapa or any of the Channel Islands, remember:
> Sunscreen, sunglasses, sunhat
> Seasickness Medicine (If you’re at all concerned or sensitive)
> Dress in layers
> Take plenty of water as there is no fresh water on the island
> Pack lunches and snacks
> Comfortable walking shoes
> Camera and binoculars
> Day-trippers can leave items at the Visitor Center but its best to travel light.
> Walk with care
> Take photos not flowers, rocks, shells, or other items found on the island…except trash.
> If you pack it in, pack it out
For families looking for the complete family escape with all the requisite amenities, the Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay Beach Resort is conveniently located near Channel Islands Harbor. All-suite rooms offer the luxury and comforts of home: living room, two televisions, two full baths, one king or two queen beds, and sleeper sofas, a refrigerator, microwave oven, coffee maker, and a well-lit dining table. Translation: Plenty of room for everyone to spread out and relax. A deep blue swimming pool, Jacuzzis, ping pong, non-motorized bikes of all kinds to ride along the beach promenade and miles of the most pristine beach just scream “family friendly!” Tons of Family Fun Packages the entire family will enjoy!
Forget the breakfast buffets; mornings at Embassy Suites are a real food fest! Besides an over-the-top expanded continental featuring fresh fruits and yogurts, full-cooked breakfasts include eggs, bacon, sausage, omelets, waffles, pancakes and more. And Embassy Suites may have the happiest “hour” on the planet. The two-hour soiree includes a variety of munchies from chips and salsa and trail mix to fresh vegetables and dip plus a full bar for parents…and kids! The Surf Room at Mandalay Bay features kid- and adult-friendly game area with pool table, foosball, big screen TV, or you can simply relax on the patio: The swaying palm trees and blue lagoons will keep you and the kids dreaming of Paradise.
Have a Whale of a Good Time by Barbara L. Steinberg
Each winter California welcomes the return of its official marine mammal, the gray whale.
The annual migration of more than 18,000 gray whales begins high in Alaskan waters. The giants then travel southward along California's coastline en route to their breeding and birthing waters in the bays and lagoons of Baja California. These majestic mammals hug California's shoreline at Point Reyes National Seashore, past the Farallon Islands, travel through Half Moon Bay and Monterey Bay, then follow the coastline past Southern California before reaching Mexico.
The whales travel 70 to 80 miles per day at a rate of three to five miles per hour. A spout of vaporized water, at times reaching 12 feet, becomes visible to watchers as the whales surface every three to five minutes to breathe. Their 12,000-mile round-trip trek is the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis. During the migration, the whales will travel in small groups and stay fairly close to the shoreline for protection from predators, such as killer whales. By mid-February, the migration pattern reverses as the whales lead their new-born calves back to the chilly Arctic waters of the Bering Sea in Alaska.
Gray whales—the only whale species to fully recover its pre-whaling population levels—may reach up to 50 feet in length and weigh up to 45 tons. Named for their gray coloring, the whales have mottled gray skin due to both natural pigmentation, and whale lice barnacle colonies. When swimming or hovering just below the surface, the whales may appear uniformly white or slate blue. One of the gray's more distinctive traits is its lack of a dorsal fin. Instead, a low hump is followed by a series of bumps down the back.
The initial sighting of the gray whale is exhilarating. The blow—a puff of steam standing up to 12 feet off the water—will appear; where there is one blow, others are sure to follow as whales tend to travel in groups of two to six. An amazing maneuver the whales perform is spyhopping. A whale may stick its head above water one or more times consecutively—it is believed that the whale is either getting its bearings or using gravity to help swallow. The most dramatic and exciting behavior observed is breaching. The whale will leap out of the water and fall to its side or back making a spectacular splash. This behavior can be perceived as a form of communication to other whales in the area or means of “back scratching” to release the numerous parasites from the whales' hides.
The four-month period from December through March is a celebration for aficionados of marine and coastal biology life as various festivals, cruises and events are planned in conjunction with the gray whale's yearly migratory pattern.
Point Reyes National Seashore, home of the picturesque Point Reyes Lighthouse in Marin County, has one of the best viewing locations. In addition, naturalist talks ,”Journey of the Whale,” are offered weekends and holidays during the season, 1:30 p.m. The Lighthouse Visitor Center is open from 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Thursday through Monday. Parking is very limited and weekends can be crowded. Th winter shuttle service runs December 31 through late March or mid-April, operating on weekends and holidays, weather permitting during whale-watching season. For details on the talks and shuttles, call the Bear Valley Visitor Center (415) 464-5100; open seven days a week. Checkout their Facebook page for updates on sightings.
Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma in San Diego is home to a glassed-in whale-watching observatory featuring whale exhibits and a taped narration, is being renovated but should re-open soon. The center is open daily 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Interpretive programs are available, call for information.
Other areas for active viewing include (counties listed from north to south):
Endert’s Beach Overlook. Approximately three miles off U.S. 101 on Endert’s Beach Road to the parking lot and viewing area which is a redwood deck built on top of a rock.
Battery Point. This is accessible only at low tide from the parking area at the foot of “A” Street in Crescent City.
Brother Jonathan Vista Point. Located on Pebble Beach Drive at Ninth Street in Crescent City. Viewing area is about 10 feet above the surface of the ocean.
Point St. George. Located about three miles northwest of Crescent City at the west end of Washington Boulevard.
Castle Rock, near Crescent City. The best location for viewing this island is along Pebble Beach Drive north of the Brother Jonathan Vista Point, south of Point St. George.
Humboldt County: Dry Lagoon, Humboldt Lagoons State Park, Freshwater Lagoon,
Redwood National & State Parks near Orick, Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park,
McKinleyville Vista Point off U.S. 101, Palmer’s Point and Wedding Rock,
Patrick’s Point State Park, Trinidad, Scenic drive, south of Trinidad offers a number of spectacular vista points as well as access to beaches such as Luffenholtz Beach.
Shelter Cove. Take the Garberville/Redway exit off U.S. 101 to the Lost Coast.
Table Bluff. South spit of Humboldt Bay Trinidad Head at Trinidad Harbor, Trinidad.
Santa Cruz County: Pigeon Point, Greyhound Rock and Davenport Coastline
Monterey County: Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur
Los Angeles County: Catalina Island, and Korean Friendship Bell and Point Fermin Lighthouse, San Pedro
Orange County: Dana Point
Ventura County: Channel Islands National Park
Island Packers - The 3‐3½ hour non‐landing narrated whale-watching trips are offered from both Ventura Harbor and Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. Trips depart almost daily at 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. All‐day trips with landing are also available on Anacapa or Santa Cruz islands. Camping is also available on all five islands. Advance reservations are advised and can be made by calling (805) 642‐1393.
California State Beaches also offer a number of programs and locations for viewing migrating whales. For details on what programs are offered, contact the state park listed below or visit www.Parks.ca.gov for general information on all state parks.
Fort Ross State Historic Park - (707) 847-3286
Garrapata State Park - (831) 624-4909
MacKerricher State Park - (707) 937-5804
Manchester State Beach - (707) 937-5804
Mendocino Headlands State Park - (707) 937-5804
Montaña de Oro State Park - (805) 528-0513
Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History - (805) 772-2694
Patrick's Point State Park - (707) 677-3570
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve - (831) 624-4904
Point Sal State Beach - (805) 733-3713
Point Sur State Historic Park - (831) 625-4419
Salt Point State Park - (707) 847-3221
Sonoma Coast State Beach - (707) 875-3483
Silver Strand State Beach - (619) 435-5184
California Festivals Celebrate Gray Whales
Whalefest Monterey—Welcome the grays at Monterey Bay, Point Lobos and Big Sur. Take part in this two-week celebration with whale-themed art shows, natural history exhibits, and children’s programs at dozens of cultural and natural history organizations, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For more information and a schedule of events, visit.
Whale Fiesta, San Pedro - Special speakers and presentations are included in weekend festivities at the enclosed whale-watching station at the end of Point Loma in San Diego. Weekend date to be determined by November.
For more information, call: (619) 557-5450.
Oxnard’s Celebration of the Whales - Taking place at Channel Islands Harbor, the celebration will include entertainment and exhibits highlighting the offshore migration of the gray whale. The event also includes island trips, speakers, and arts and crafts.
Dana Point’s Festival of Whales - After an opening ceremony at La Plaza Park with a two-day street faire, this spectacular event will kick-off with a grand display of tallships at the Dana Point harbor. The Orange County Marine Institute will sponsor a “Whaling & Art of the Sailor” exhibition, and the last weekend will finish with a “wag-a-thon” plus much more. For more information, call: (888) 440-4309 or (949) 472-7888.
Mendocino Whale Festival. Celebrate in the village's galleries and shops with premium wines from Mendocino's top vintners. Other highlights include chowder tasting, marine art exhibits, music and whale-watching walks on the headlands. For more information.
Fort Bragg Whale Festival. Along with dozens of microbrews provided by the Fort Bragg Rotary Club, the area’s top chefs will produce their favorite chowders. A marine mammal art exhibit and crafts fair are also part of the two-day festival. Experience the excitement of whales in motion with a boat excursion at Noyo Harbor. For more information.
Little River Whale Festival. Savor bites from the kitchens of the town's noted chefs, sips from Mendocino County
vintners, history and birding walks in Van Damme State Park, artist studio tours, fireside talks with local historians.
Long Beach Whale Watching. Explore the Pacific Ocean and enjoy an up-close and personal experience with the world's largest mammals. Special whale-watching packages offered by the Aquarium of the Pacific. and tours and cruises by Harbor Breeze Whale-Watching Cruises, and Pieroint Landing.
Morro Bay Whale Watching is waiting. The Dos Osos is an open-deck pontoon boat, so dress with additional layers. A seasoned crew and interpretive staff provide background and safety instructions. Gray whales visit middle of December through May. Sightings are virtually guaranteed. Other commonly seen marine life includes blue whales, minke whales, fin whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins.
Morro Bay is a Sensory Wonderland By Barbara L. Steinberg
Inhale. Watch the sun set behind Morro Rock, bark at sea lions, call to a night heron, and walk in silence beside a forest of pygmy oaks. At every turn, open spaces and environmentally sensitive biomes of extraordinary splendor await. Miles and miles of nature preserves, state parks, state beaches, and magical places with names like The Elfin Forest elevate Morro Bay’s allure. From a waterfront perch at the Inn at Morro Bay, only one question emerges, “What next?” Mother Nature worked overtime to create this canvas. It deserves all your attention.
Head for Montaña de Oro State Park toward shoreline and estuary views. In just a few miles, the road narrows; the “real” world drops away. Some days are sunny. Today, fog drapes the hillsides but without diminishing the heightened anticipation to reach Sandspit Beach – a four-mile “ecologically diverse” sand dune area separating Morro Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
One vehicle in the parking lot alludes to a park ranger, nowhere to be seen. Out of your own four-wheeler, the world is quiet. You zigzag along with the boardwalk, along sensitive dunes dotted with sand verbena and lupine. A slight rise in the dune and – suddenly – stillness to crashing waves! A view that thrills you to the bone.
Breathe. One seriously long, deep breath of the fog, the mist, the ocean air.
See. Open your eyes, wide! Really, really wide to an abundance of sand, shore birds, ocean debris, wildflowers, pounding surf. Incredibly, you are the sole inhabitant on this expanse of beach inside Montaña de Oro State Park. Imagine the coastal Chumash who once called this home.
Step. Follow the footprints – some four-footed – the comings and goings of previous visitors. The tide rushes up and laps at your feet, washing away remnants of your passing and those before you.
Gaze. Scan for signs of life. A troop of curlews hurries in and out of the surf chasing an elusive breakfast. A band of brown pelicans rises and falls with the light as if on some unseen carnival ride. Bashful snowy plovers sneak – left, right, left right – over dunes to protected nesting ground. A gang of turkey vultures nibble on the carcass of a dolphin, its mouth agape in a petrified smile. Heartbreaking, but it is the nature of things and now part of this memory.
Sun and fog debate which will prevail over today’s weather. Fog appears to be winning. Though a distance away, you linger in hopes that Morro Rock will reappear through the mist. Not to be on this adventure. After a mile on the spit, it’s time to turn back.
A ghostly surfer slips the top of a wave, a solitary figure, as you depart. Exhale.
Get a great workout and search for wildlife on this hike through the hills between Fairfield, Benicia and Vallejo. Solano Land Trust docents will guide you on an up to six-mile hike through this area, known as the King-Swett Ranches. Explore these lands that are both natural areas and working cattle ranches, learn about the plants and animals that call these lands home, and see sweeping views of Solano County and beyond. Participants will get a great workout while looking for birds and other wildlife that call this area home. Residents and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of this special opportunity if they can because these ranches in the hills between are otherwise closed.
When: Saturday, September 3, 2016
Where: King-Swett Ranches
What to bring: Hiking boots or trail running shoes with good grip, water, and snacks.
Register: Space is limited and pre-registration is recommended at conta.cc/2bKB7F3. Important details, including the meeting location, directions and registration information are available at the registration link above, and on the events calendar at solanolandtrust.org.
Solano Land Trust protects land to ensure a healthy environment, keep ranching and farming families on their properties, and inspire a love of the land. For more information about Solano Land Trust, its upcoming events and to make a donation, visit solanolandtrust.org.
For more information on wildlife and nature tourism locations, visit California Watchable Wildlife.
After years of drought, California waterfalls give thanks to plentiful winter rains and snow
The adjectives: awe-inspiring; breathtaking; spectacular; mesmerizing. The verbs: plunging; plummeting; crashing. The metaphors: like a thundering curtain or the roar of a hurricane; or like the sound of bells or murmuring voices.
Waterfalls. They are mystical and magical. Their size and strength are often times terrifying; their beauty: tranquilizing and hypnotic. Who hasn't dreamed of showering in their chilling spray or swimming in an emerald pool; or longed to track the water's ancient origins in search of a quiet resting place? In California, there are memorable waterfalls to match any you have imagined.
The winter rains and (eventually) melting snow pack will have California waterfalls exploding with water. Springtime is generally the best time to view these natural wonders as many of the falls dry-up in the summer heat due to decreased water flows. But during the right winters, waterfalls come crashing back to life. The N ative Americans called them "laughing waters." Though spring is still many months away, California waterfalls are giggling, chortling, screaming, and lifting their voices in tumultuous laughter.
Burney Falls, once called "the eighth wonder of the world" by Teddy Roosevelt, is fed by spring flows of 200 million gallons daily. Much of the water from these underground streams actually spouts from the rock. The divided falls rumble down a 129-foot cliff into an emerald pool before flowing into Lake Britton. Trails that almost anyone can manage lead down to the pool on both sides. For the best view, hike the 1/2-mile trail that traverses the hillside. You can cross the top of the falls most of the year, but waters run heaviest in the Spring. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is located mid-way between Lassen National Volcanic Park and Mt. Shasta.
The McCloud Falls (upper, middle and lower) are 5.9 miles east of the town of McCloud and can be reached by following the signs to Fowler's Camp. The three falls are within two miles of each other and accessible by car. There is fishing and a natural swimming hole on Hwy. 89.
Located near Dunsmuir are Mossbrae and Hedge Creek Falls. Approximately 50 miles north of Redding, Mossbrae is fed by melting water from the glaciers on Mount Shasta. Hedge Creek is well marked and has a picnic area near the base of the falls.
Approximately 41 miles east of Redding, Potem Creek Falls empties into the Pit River. A gentle, winding trail makes the falls accessible to hikers. For additional information, contact: Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association.
Yosemite Falls, the tallest falls in North America (and fifth tallest in the world), drop 2,425 feet to the valley floor. The Upper Fall plunges 1,430, feet, connecting with the 320-foot Lower Fall by a 675-foot cascade. Follow a 3.6-mile trail, which includes a 270-foot gain in elevation, to reach the top of Yosemite Falls. Start at Lower Yosemite Falls for a 1/2-day hike with excellent views of Half Dome. The best views are about two thirds of the way up, so don't feel as if you're missing out if you don't make it to the top. Impressive views of the falls are seen on the path to the base.
The Merced River flows from the snow fields in the Sierra Nevada, spills over the 594-foot Nevada Falls and then plummets another 317 feet over Vernal Falls. Known as The Mist Trail, the hike starts uphill through the mist sprayed by Vernal Falls. When the light is right, hikers are rewarded with rainbows in the mist of Vernal Falls. The climb to the top of Nevada Falls is difficult; the last 900 feet of elevation gain are up steep polished granite. The half-day round-trip up the falls is 3.4 miles one way.
Yosemite Indians called the 620-foot Bridalveil Fall, Pohono, or "spirit of the puffing winds." Strong winds often lift the thundering water and blow it sideways. Bridalveil is visible from the road, but an easy 10-minute walk will take you to its foaming base.
On a strenuous 9-1/2 mile walk from the Tuolumne Meadows area, you can view the exuberant Tuolumne Falls. Other falls such as the spectacular Waterwheel Falls, are a short distance beyond, near Glen Aulin Camp in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.
Other lesser known falls include: Cascade Falls, Chilnualna Cascades, Wapama and Tueeulala Falls. After the winter snow melt, Yosemite is easily accessible by Hwy. 120 and 140 from the west and Hwy. 120 from the east (Mono Lake Area). For additional information, contact: Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau or Yosemite National Park.
Just five miles from the south entrance to Yosemite, along the 3.7-mile Lewis Creek Recreational Trail, lies a hidden treasure -- Corlieu Falls. The trail follows the route of the historical Madera Sugar Pine lumber flume past the 80-foot waterfall, and the smaller Red Rock Falls. With no signs to publicize their existence, Corlieu Falls can be enjoyed in a kind of quiet solitude not possible at some of the better known falls. For additional information, contact: Yosemite Experience.
On the eastern side of the Sierra is Rainbow Falls, located in the Inyo National Forest south of Devils Postpile National Monument. Along a 1.3-mile trail the San Joaquin River plunges 101 feet over volcanic rock into a box canyon. Multi-colored rainbows are clearly visible in the mist of the mighty falls. Devils Postpile is a brief walk from parking lots and shuttle stops. The trail to Rainbow Falls is a short 1-1/4-mile hike from Devils Postpile.
Drive around the Mammoth Lakes Basin -- Lake Mary, Twin Lakes, Mamie, George and Horseshoe (there is no Mammoth Lake). Spilling down from Lake Mamie west of the town of Mammoth Lakes is Twin Falls, which cascades 300-feet along a granite bed into Twin Lakes. It can be viewed from the overview at Twin Lakes. For additional information, contact: Visit Mammoth.
Located 25 miles east of Oroville, the Feather Falls National Recreation Trail will lead you to 640-feet high Feather Falls. The trail, located within the 15,000-acre Feather Falls Scenic Area, winds through the foothills 3.8 miles to Feather Falls. Water flows at Feather Falls are heaviest during the spring months.
The diminutive Indian Falls in the Plumas National Forest is just 20 feet high, but creates a dramatic affect falling on Indian Creek. Large sun-bathed rocks, swimming holes, and sandy shores beckon. The 0.5-mile round-trip hike is easy but can be icy in winter months. Well-placed interpretive panels provide insight into the lives of the Maidu tribes who inhabited the region. Ten miles west of Quincy, the falls are two miles north of the intersection of Highways 70 and 89. For additional information, contact: Plumas County Tourism Recreation & Hospitality
The Bay Area has been blessed with a number of beautiful water falls. At a height of 70 feet, Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, may be the Bay Area's most impressive waterfall. A fairly comfortable hike, take the Skyline to the Sea Trail to the falls and back for an 8-mile round-trip. For additional information, contact: Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Twenty-five miles from Foresthill in Placer County is Grouse Falls, one of California's most scenic waterfalls. Cascading down several hundred feet, the falls are hidden at the head of an isolated box canyon. The falls were largely inaccessible until 1992, when a trail constructed to a deck perched along the canyon wall allowed the falls to be seen. The trail is an easy, 1/3-mile walk. The best time for viewing the falls is in the spring when water flows are high. For additional information, contact: Foresthill Ranger Station at 22830 Foresthill Road or (530) 367-2224 or Visit Placer.
Truly an oasis in the desert is Darwin Falls, with its sparkling stream and year-round 30-foot cascading waterfalls. Just off Hwy. 190, leading into Death Valley National Park it's an easy half-mile hike to lower Darwin Falls. Another short hike ends at the rushing waters of the upper falls.
In sharp contrast to this water wonderland is Fossil Falls, located 45-minutes north of Ridgecrest. The trail is a short 1-1/2 mile, round-trip hike and leads to a sculptured and polished 40-foot dry waterfall. Black lava cliffs were smoothed and shaped over thousands of years by the now-dry Owens River. The graded dirt access road to Fossil Falls is accessible with a two-wheel drive vehicle. For additional information, contact: Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In winter, a hush and holy stillness settles over Yosemite National Park. It is, by any standards, a most magical and enchanting time to visit. On peaceful walks, you can easily imagine John Muir's first sighting of these granite domes and thundering waterfalls. In the chill of the day, under sapphire skies, the howls of coyotes drift across the Valley and mingle with mist floating above the meadows.
During this season, Yosemite’s waterfalls come roaring back to life courtesy of winter snow and rain. Any visit should include a hike to Yosemite Falls. Stream-fed, the voice of Yosemite Falls is a constant this time of year. The reality that this is the highest waterfall in North America is drowned out by the crashing din, “it’s overwhelming – dizzying,” says one couple. “The word ‘awesome’ simply isn’t enough.” In the morning chill, early risers are treated to snow showers created by the fall’s spray.
During warmer months, visitors from around the world flock to Yosemite. Post-summer and autumn, the visitor tide ebbs, heralding an unhurried transition into a frosty hibernation. Following major holidays, Yosemite settles down for a winter nap. Less traffic in, out and around the Park is a bonus, not to mention that accommodations are more attainable.
Opened in 1927, the majestic lady of Yosemite is The Ahwahnee hotel. This celebrated Four-Diamond resort perches grandly amid the pines and by the granite Royal Arches. The Ahwahnee’s regal architectural details combine the best of the Art Deco and Arts and Crafts movements with a splash of Native American and Middle Eastern influences. Spacious common areas, 99 elegantly appointed rooms and 24 cottages offer exceptional romantic appeal and stunning views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls – three of Yosemite’s most famous natural landmarks.
Sun-drenched days in the Valley can be warm, but anytime is optimal for snuggling in front of a roaring fire. The Ahwahnee’s massive stone fireplaces and comfortable lounges offer reprieves from the cold. Guests Linda and Brad retreat to the Great Lounge to relax and read. “They wait on you hand and foot,” say Linda and Brad. Celebrating their anniversary, they both agree that, “If we could only go one place, it would be Yosemite.”
Yosemite Village is an easy walk or shuttle ride from The Ahwahnee and other Valley lodgings. Leave your vehicle parked during your stay and take advantage of environmentally-friendly transit. Snow doesn’t stay long on the Valley floor, so walks and hikes are always possible. You don’t have to be a rugged outdoors person to enjoy Yosemite. Walk outside and you’ll see things you won’t find anywhere else on earth – relish the peace and quiet. There’s plenty of that in winter.
Besides the usual seasonal pursuits, indulge in some retail therapy at the hotel gift shop and world-famous Ansel Adams Gallery. Interpretive displays at the Yosemite Museum depict the rich heritage of the Valley and its native people the Ahwahneechee. An exhibit of Native American basketry by Lucy and Julia Parker is renowned.
Food, Glorious Food! Extraordinary celebrations are a given in Yosemite. The Ahwahnee dining room is a gourmet experience, with the heart of the menu steeped in California cuisine. Whenever possible, dishes feature both organic and sustainably-harvested, locally-grown ingredients. Heavenly combinations, just for starters, include an Artisan Cheese Board featuring California’s delectable Humboldt Fog, Fiscalini and Golden Valley cheeses and Membrillo, a luscious quince jelly. Or a new twist on an old favorite, El Capitan Deviled Eggs with pesto, arugula, and bourbon-cured bacon. Like days of old, this grand dame requests dinner attire – fitting accompaniment beside so much grandeur.
The Vintner’s Holiday is the ultimate for couples visiting Yosemite early November and December. Wine enthusiasts can avail themselves of six sessions and multi-night packages at The Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Wine tasting seminars, private “Meet the Vintners” reception and a five-course gala dinner leave devotees delightfully giddy. Visitors are welcome, free of charge, at all Vintner’s Holiday seminars and panel discussions, and may also purchase gala dinner tickets.
A legendary gala, adapted from Washington Irving's "Sketch Book," Bracebridge Dinner marks its 89th year this winter. Trumpets announce the arrival of Squire Bracebridge and presentations of an elaborate seven-course feast are made on cue by the sounding of chimes during the performance. The main dining room of The Ahwahnee is transformed into an Elizabethan Yuletide pageant. Elaborate props, costumed characters, and period entertainment bring this 17th-century fête to life. You will, quite literally, be left speechless by this most sensory of celebrations. The experience of a lifetime, the always coveted Bracebridge tickets – eight December performances – are available online.
January would be Yosemite’s quietest month of the year were it not for the influx of food-and wine-minded guests who visit specifically to attend Chefs’ Holidays, a gourmet treasure. Over the course of four weeks and eight sessions, acclaimed chefs from around the country come to The Ahwahnee to practice their culinary arts. Each session features a “Meet the Chefs” reception, cooking classes and demonstrations, and kitchen tours where you can visit The Ahwahnee’s pantry and see some of the original kitchen tools. The astonishing Chef’s Gala Dinner is certain to send you into a gastronomic coma as five courses, paired with complementing wines, are crafted and prepared by each session’s guest chef. Bejeweled by tapered candlelight, there couldn’t be a more exquisite setting then The Ahwahnee’s regal dining room.
Chef’s Holiday 2015 features chefs from California and as far away as New York. The event features some of the country’s most innovative and acclaimed chefs including Elizabeth Falkner and Ryan Scott.
Ultimate Escapes: Yearning to unwind and avoid the last vestiges of winter crowds in Yosemite Valley, but still want endless distractions? Head to the Wawona Hotel. It’s an escape to days of old: No TV. No phones. And limited Wi-Fi – what madness! Whether romance or family time is on the agenda, the Victorian-era Wawona Hotel provides the best of all possibilities. Located on the southern end of the Park, the oldest Yosemite accommodations (a National Historic Landmark) is reminiscent of a gentle southern belle, offering the epitome of hospitality. Known for its exceptional fare, the winter menu highlights local organic and seasonal foods, and breakfast is included with all rooms. Some rooms are European-style so, if you prefer, specify en-suite.
Outside Yosemite’s boundaries, elegant and historic lodging comes in many guises. Two miles from the Park’s southern entrance, the Four-Diamond rated Tenaya Lodge offers superb accommodations – nothing less than luxurious. Native American and western-style décor honors the hotel’s legendary namesake, Chief Tenaya, roaring fires, five seasonal restaurants, and heart-stopping scenery. In the midst of a multi-million dollar remodel, 240 of the main lodge’s rooms and suites will be completed by spring 2016. But wait, there is more!
After a day exploring, hiking, or snowshoeing unwind and indulge at Ascent the Spa. Inquire about kid activities and personalized babysitting services. While you wine and dine or soak up some sun, off-spring can unwind at the expanded arcade or indoor heated pool. When the snow flies, an open-air ice-skating rink provides miles of chilly smiles. Incidentally, pet friendly, yes! Indulge your loving pooch with a Pampered Pet Package.
Evergreen Lodge, off historic Highway 120, offers couples and families a rare opportunity to enjoy the little visited and secluded northwest corner of Yosemite National Park. Down Evergreen Road, Hetch Hetchy Valley is waiting. In the early 1920s, damming of the Tuolumne River created the 8-mile-long Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. While surrounding landscapes may be winter white, Hetch Hetchy is frequently spring-like and otherworldly. You’ll delight in fern grottoes, sunlit granite, crashing waterfalls and tree-frog wetlands. The bonus is that you can hike for hours undisturbed by other day-trippers.
Built in 1921, the main lodge houses a historic tavern and restaurant. After a day of hiking or skiing, a steaming bowl of apple and butternut squash soup with candied pecans or bacon-wrapped elk meatloaf with sweet potato puree, roasted Brussels sprouts and an oyster mushroom jus will fill that hunger void. Menus change seasonally to incorporate the finest local, organic and sustainable ingredients. Retire to the Great Room for roaring fires, s’mores, and classic films. Honeymooners, Kahdijah and Alistair, enjoyed five nights at Evergreen, “It’s amazing,” says Kahdijah, “we love it! Evergreen has a faraway feeling and we can still spend time in the Park.” A variety of fully furnished cabins and cottages accommodate up to six guests.
Scenic Highway 120 passes through the Gold Rush-era town of Groveland and provides year-round access to the Park. If you choose to stay outside the Park, this small town offers big hospitality. Embrace the warm welcome of the Three-Diamond Groveland Hotel. Seventeen uniquely decorated rooms provide outstanding lodging for adventures both in and out of Yosemite. Greeting guests since 1849, the hotel’s Cellar Door is known for its extraordinary cuisine and wines and boasts a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
Opening June 2016, Rush Creek Lodge sits just half a mile from the Park’s Highway 120 west entrance, providing an ideal launching point for exploration into all parts of Yosemite. The opening coincides with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
As temperatures drop and snow flies, nothing is quite as special as ice skating at Curry Village beneath the splendor of Half Dome and Glacier Point, the warmth of an outdoor fire ring and scrumptious winter s’mores…is a winter dream. Yosemite Valley lodges provide shuttle service to Badger Pass Ski Area. If there’s significant snow at Wawona, people cross-country ski on the golf course across the road. Built in 1878, the 130-foot Wawona Covered Bridge crosses the south fork of the Merced River and leads to the 1880s Pioneer History Center.
The road is closed to the Mariposa Grove, but you can still hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe to visit the giant sequoias – the largest living things on earth. YExplore Global Adventures offers Yosemite guided snowshoe treks to both the Mariposa and Tuolumne sequoia groves. Beginner or extended hikes to Dewey Point on the south rim of Yosemite Valley and photography workshops capture landscape views and the natural “firefall”, one of Yosemite’s most amazing spectacles.
Get Your Badger Pass On! Like an old friend, Badger Pass Ski Area is quaint and welcoming. Generations of parents and children have cut their skiing teeth at Badger Pass, California’s oldest downhill ski area. With more than 85 percent of the slopes devoted to beginner and intermediate levels, this is understandable. There’s no friendlier place for the little ones than the Badger Pups program that offers customized instruction, ages four to six. The sundeck at Badger Pass answers all your wintertime prayers. After time on the slopes or trails, you’ll be ready to enjoy lunch with a full view of downhill daredevils. After refueling and relaxing, embrace your sillier side with a little snow tubing. There are also daily ranger-led snowshoe walks.
Cross-country skiing, snowboarding and showshoeing experiences in and around Badger Pass are both scenic and serene. Miles of groomed trails and fresh powder are unsurpassed even for first-timers. For those with true gusto, the 10-plus mile trek to Glacier Point Ski Hut will reward you with stellar views of Yosemite Valley. Excursions to the rustic stone and log lodge include lodging, meals and layover activities. Experiencing Yosemite’s wintry-white back county and starlit skies? Simply priceless.
In snow season, access to Yosemite is via highways 140 (west) 41 (south), and 120 (north). These scenic byways pass by historic towns and untold scenic wonders. Enjoy the sights and an occasional stop along the way for sightseeing and shopping – antiques, art galleries, museums, state parks, trendy boutiques, and wineries – California’s past and present lives on in these Gold Rush-era gems. Even in sunny California, winter weather is unpredictable. It’s best to check ahead for road conditions and always travel with snow chains!
Millions throng to see the splendor of Yosemite’s granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, giant sequoias, and the magnificence made famous by the likes of John Muir and Ansel Adams. Retreat urban environs by way of traffic-laden highways. Soon, slow rolling valleys, wide-open spaces, neatly hemmed by fences, and carefully rowed orchards and vineyards lead to snow-capped peaks, the promise of winter, and Yosemite!
Food & Travel Magazine Winter 2015-16 - by Barbara L. Steinberg
The sun was barely breaking through when fog began rolling in across the mouth of the Smith River. Where river and ocean unite feels holy. Harbor seals – almost ghostly – gaze out across the shallow. A community of cormorants Zen(ly) attempt drying their wings. Brown pelicans and gulls share the sandspit. A lone angler casts again and again. He confides it’s been rumored salmon are running better on the Rogue and Klamath rivers. Still, he’s content. I watch with quiet respect and retreat once my camera is
Some 30 miles away, we stroll a considerable spit separating the Klamath River from the Pacific Ocean. One more peaceful world, the lone inhabitants walking or sitting quietly we reverently contemplate this sacred space. The tide is returning and waves crash to the shore. A swift undertow – the cold water just licks my naked feet as I scramble away. The Klamath has journeyed far – 263 miles from Southern Oregon – to wed itself to the churning ocean.
These are the reasons why along the Wild Rivers Coast.