Water, water everywhere, so jump in!
When the sizzling sun of Northern California strikes, there's no better way to beat the summer heat than to get out the water toys and head toward cool, refreshing water. From boating, swimming and jet skiing, to kayaking, water skiing and sailing, Chico and the surrounding area offer endless opportunities for water recreation.
Boating, Waterskiing & Jet Skiing
Lakes Oroville & Shasta
Located off of Olive Highway (Hwy 162), approximately 25 minutes South of Chico, Lake Oroville is a prime location to cool off the effects of California's summer skies. When full to the 900 ft. elevation mark, the lake offers 15,500 surface acres for recreation and 167 miles of shoreline. Whether it's skiing or boating you enjoy, there's plenty of room for fun on the lake. Don't have a boat? No worries! Both marinas (Bidwell and Lime Saddle) offer houseboat, fishing, and patio boat rentals at a nominal charge. Be sure to call ahead for availability.
For additional information about Lake Oroville or boat rentals, call Bidwell Marina (530)589-3165/800-637-1767, Lime Saddle Marina (530)877-2414/800-834-7517 or the Lake Oroville Visitors Center at (530)538-2219.
North of Chico, up Highway 5 past Redding, sits Lake Shasta. The Lake boasts more than 30,000 surgace acres and 370 miles of shoreline, making it a haven for the watersport enthusiast. With more than 400 houseboats available for rent, the lake offers one of the largest fleets of any lake in Western America. Whether you're looking for just the basics, or the equivalent of a luxury suite on water, you're sure to find one to suit your tastes. For more information about Shasta Lake, contact the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association at 1-800-4-SHASTA.
Thermalito Forebay South
Whether you're a jet ski, hydroplane or speed boat fan, the South Forebay provides plenty of opportunity for water fun. Located west of Hwy 70 between Chico and Oroville, the South Forebay has a four-lane boat launch ramp, swimming beach, picnic area, shade trees and fish cleaning station.
Black Butte Lake
Located eight mile west of Orland, off of Interstate 5, Blake Butte Lake is a great spot for boating, fishing and water skiing. With more than 4,500 surface acres of water, Black Butte boasts three boat ramps and a full-service marina, and is open to boating year-round. On a typical day, power boats, sailboats, personal water craft and others can be found on the open waters. (Also, see sailing section). For more information call (530)865-4135.
Seeking an outdoor adventure? At an elevation of 4,500 feet, Lake Almanor is a mecca for the watersport fanatic. With 52 miles of shoreline, Almanor is Plumas county's largest lake, and offers year-round water activities. Summer lake surface temperatures of approximately 75 degrees make the lake ideal for waterskiing, sailing, sailboarding and jetskiing. From Chico, the beautiful ride takes approximately one and one-half to two hours. Take State Highway 32 to Highway 36 towards Chester. For more information, contact the Chester-Lake Almanor Chamber of Commerce at (800)350-4838.
Sailing & Windsurfing
Thermalito Forebay North
Reserved exclusively for sailboats, canoes and other non power-driven boats, the North Forebay is a sailor's dream! After you've sailed, rest along the Forebay's 200-yard sandy swimming beach. The North Forebay has a handicap accessible fishing pier, and boasts a 1,200 sq. ft. aquatic center for boating clubs and classes. Directions: From Chico - take Hwy 99 South to Hwy 149. Take Hwy 149 to Hwy 70, towards Oroville.
Black Butte Lake
On windy days, Black Butte Lake, located West of Orland off of Interstate 5, attracts a number of sailboard enthusiasts who generally gather at the Buckhorn day-use area shoreline. Call (530)865-4135 for additional information.
Kayaking, Canoeing & River Rafting
Tubing and kayaking are along Butte Creek is a popular area pastime. Public access to the creek is available at the Steel Bridge, and most people tube or kayak down to the historic Honey Run Covered Bridge.
Directions: Take the Skyway exit off of Hwy 99 in Chico. Travel up the Skyway, making a left onto Honey Run Road. Follow Honey Run approximately five miles to the Covered Bridge, and make a left on Centerville Road. Go approximately four miles up to the Steel Bridge. The float can take anywhere from three to five hours, depending on river currents.
Mt. Lassen Area
At 10,427 feet in elevation, the majestic Mt. Lassen is one of California's spectacular wonders. At the base of the beautiful mountain are numerous lakes offering a variety of canoeing experiences. These include Butte Lake, Juniper Lake, Manzanita Lake, Summit Lake, and Lake Helen. Directions: From I-5, take Highway 26 East toward Lassen National Park. For additional information, call the Lassen National Forest at (530)257-2151 or Lassen National Park at (530)595-4444.
Rafting and "tubing" along the Sacramento River, particularly in Chico, is extremely popular. Inner-tube rentals are available at a variety of locations in town. Tubers can park and "launch" at the Irvine Finch Access Site on Highway 32, and enjoy a leisurely float. As with any water sport, tubers should use extreme caution when floating. Be alert to hidden "snags" or tree branches, as well as strong undercurrents.
Rafting season on the Feather River runs from approximately January to April or May. Beginner-level "tubing" and canoeing are possible along the eastern stretches, which are more gentle. Just east of the Thermalito Afterbay is a 12-mile stretch of the Feather River. Several locations along the river allow canoes or car-top boats to be launched. The North Fork along Highway 70 from the intersection of Highway 89 to Twain or Virgilia is suitable for canoes or beginner kayakers. For the more experienced kayaker or rafter, the Feather River provides numerous, world-class whitewater opportunities. From Rich Bar to Belden is a popular Class III stretch running approximately five miles. More advanced runs are available below Belden, accessible during the runoff season only. For additional information about rafting, kayaking, or canoeing on the Feather River, contact the Plumas County Visitors Bureau at 800-326-2247, or visit their website.