Located roughly halfway between the Golden State’s capital city and the Oregon border, Redding is the second-largest California city north of Sacramento. Conveniently located along I-5, the West Coast interstate that stretches from San Diego to Seattle, Redding’s 100 miles of trails within 10 miles of the city center and ideal positioning on the Sacramento River have earned it the nicknames of Trail Capital of California and Unofficial Capital of Kayaking.
As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, the forest-filled mountains surrounding Redding are blanketed with snow, and the city that serves as the gateway to Mount Shasta and the surrounding areas offers visitors a variety of fun things to do and see in winter.
But one of the best things about visiting Redding, California, in winter is that once you’ve had your share of snow-filled winter activities, you can leave the cold behind and head back to days with high temps of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit in town. It’s the best of both worlds!
Note: Some of my experiences were hosted by Visit Redding. All opinions are my own.
1. Downhill Skiing
With ample views of Mount Shasta covered in snow, the first activity that might come to mind when you visit Redding in winter is downhill skiing. About an hour north of downtown, Mt. Shasta Ski Park has 425 acres of ski trails accessible from three lifts. The ski park rents skis and snowboards in half-day, full-day, and multi-day increments and offers both private and group lessons.
Whether you are a beginner or are comfortable zipping down a black diamond run, Mt. Shasta Ski Park has the perfect trail for you. Roughly half of the trails are rated intermediate, with the remaining runs split evenly between beginner and advanced. The longest run is over a mile long, and you can enjoy twilight skiing on 14 of the ski park’s trails.
Before you head to the ski park, purchase your lift tickets, rent your equipment, and schedule lessons online on Mt. Shasta Ski Park’s website. A limited number of tickets are sold daily, and ensures your spot in the parking lot and on the slopes. You can also get the latest snow report and a sneak peek at the trails via the live-feed mountain cameras here. Plus, check out the events calendar for live music and other apres ski activities.
Pro Tip: If you have a way of transporting skis, poles, and snowboards to the ski park, you can also rent your equipment in Redding.
2. Sledding Or Tubing
If you’d rather slide down the snow a bit closer to the ground than standing on skis, sledding or tubing may be the perfect winter activity for you. Mount Shasta Ski Park features a dedicated tubing area where guests can rent a tube and slide down 300-foot-long, side-by-side lanes. If you have your own sled or tube, you’ll find several additional snow-covered hills near the Lassen Volcanic National Park along the northern shore of Manzanita Lake, in the Chaos Jumbles area, and at Eskimo Hill.
3. Cross-Country Skiing
Lassen Volcanic National Park offers great trails for cross-country skiing. Entering the park via the northwest or southwest entrances, beginner and intermediate cross-country skiers will find great options along the snow-covered Park Highway Trail. The Manzanita Campground Loop (1.5 miles) is another great option for beginners. Intermediate cross-country skiers will enjoy exploring the Chaos Jumbles area to the east of Manzanita Lake or the Nobles Emigrant route north of Reflection Lake.
Pro Tip: As with sleds and tubes, you’ll need to bring your own cross-country skiing equipment to Lassen Volcanic National Park. You can rent cross-country skis — along with downhill skis, snowboards, and snowshoes — at Redding Sports.
For a snowy thrill that’s easier on your middle-aged knees than strapping on a pair of Rossingnols, give snowmobiling a try. Explore hundreds of miles of groomed trails and thousands of snowy acres in the Shasta-Trinity, Klamath, and Modoc National Forests surrounding Redding.
Snowmobilers of all skill levels can rent snowmobiles at Fun Factory, where the staff will cover snowmobile safety and conduct a practice session before letting you hit the nearby trails. Or, if you’d like to explore with a group, you can participate in one of their snowmobile tours, ranging from mild to wild on the adrenaline meter.
When visiting Redding in the winter, visitors to the Trail Capital of California will want to trade their hiking boots for snowshoes. Lassen Volcanic National Park is a prime spot for this winter activity in Redding, delivering amazing views with a lower dose of adrenaline than the other winter activities suggested thus far. For an easy snow hike, try the Reflection (0.5 miles) or Manzanita Lake (1.8 miles) loop trails for amazing views of Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags. Or trek some of the routes recommended for intermediate cross-country skiers in the section above.
If you visit the park on a weekend day between January and April, sign up for a free, ranger-led snowshoe hike. The 2-hour-long trek begins promptly at 1:30 pm at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at the southwest entrance, and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to arrive early!
6. Ice Skating
Channel your inner Kristi Yamaguchi or Scott Hamilton and twirl around the ice rink when you visit Redding in the winter. If you’re enjoying a snow-filled day up north in Mount Shasta, the Siskiyou Ice Rink offers public skating sessions nearly every day.
Or, you can hit the ice at the newly opened rink at the corner of East Center and Ferry Streets in Anderson, just 15 minutes south of Redding on I-5.
7. Warm Up With A Brewed Beverage
While hot chocolate is the traditional way to warm up after a day of wintery fun, coffee and tea also do the trick. With two locations in Redding, Theory Coffee Roasters serves a variety of hot drinks from its espresso bar. Pair it with a pastry, sandwich, or other menu item to refuel. Another local roasterie that will warm you up after a day of winter fun is Evergreen. Whether you opt for an espresso, cappuccino, latte, or hot tea, be sure to try one of their organic whole wheat waffles. And if you prefer a coffee with a kick, head to Shameless O’Leery’s for an Irish coffee that adds Irish whiskey and cream to your cup of joe.
8. Garden Of Lights
One of the most magical things to do in Redding in the winter is stroll through the Redding Garden of Lights. From mid-November through the end of December, 10 acres of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park are decorated with more than a million lights and other holiday decorations. Grab a hot beverage (including adult hot chocolate and cider, if desired), and be mesmerized by twinkling lights dancing to festive music as you wind your way through the garden.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the igloo, where even the biggest snowbird will be wowed by the falling “snow.”
Other Fun Things To Do In Redding, California, During Winter
With 249 days of sunshine, Redding is one of the sunniest cities in America. And pairing those rays with high winter temperatures in the 50s means that you can visit Redding in the winter and still enjoy the best Redding activities year-round.
You’ll definitely want to walk across the Sundial Bridge, a glass-bottom bridge that is one of the world’s largest working sundials — even if you can only use it to tell the time a few hours a day due to its massive size. Just steps from the bridge, Turtle Bay Exploration Park includes the Turtle Bay Museum, which provides a great overview of Redding’s history and a sanctuary for several native Northern California animals that can no longer survive in the wild.
Milder winter weather means you can also hike or bike the Sacramento River Trail year-round. And because it seldom freezes, you can be on the water at Whiskeytown Lake, Lake Shasta, or the Sacramento River even on the coldest day of the year. So paddle around in your kayak or spend the week on the water in the town that holds “Capital of the World” nicknames for both kayaking and houseboating.
Whether you visit Redding to enjoy the winter wonderland just north of town or to enjoy the sunny, milder weather, you can find additional information and inspiration for your trip to Redding here.
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