Surrounding Lake Shasta are several natural wonders and one very dramatic man-made wonder. As you schedule your boat rental and visit to Shasta Lake, make plans to visit one, or all, of these spectacular sites.
Lake Shasta itself is a man-made reservoir in Northern California created when the engineering masterpiece of a 602-foot-high dam was built. Construction of the dam began in 1938 and concluded in 1945. This monumental project was the world’s second highest dam when it was completed but is the ninth tallest today.
The dam helped reduce frequent flooding of the valley below as well as providing hydroelectricity and controlling the supply of water to the Central Valley.
Due to Covid safety protocols, the Visitor Center may not be offering guided tours, so, plan a self-guided walking tour across the top of the dam to witness the incredible views down the face of the mammoth concrete structure. Access to the dam is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Surrounding this man-made wonder are some of the most breath-taking natural wonders in the US. Here’s a list of locations you won’t want to miss on your vacation to Lake Shasta.
1. Explore Lake Shasta Caverns
Shasta Caverns is a must-see and must-have experience. The caverns are tucked into the mountainside 900 feet above Shasta Lake and were named a National Natural Landmark in 2021.
Caves are undoubtedly some of the most fascinating places to explore and this geological wonder won’t disappoint. Great halls are filled with calcite and granite formations that drape from the ceiling along with helictites while stalagmites rise from the floor.
Your journey to the center of the earth begins with a 2-hour boat ride across the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake, then enjoy a bus ride to the cave entrance. When you enter the cave, prepare to walk down and back up many stairs. So, wear comfortable walking shoes as well as a sweater as the caves can be cool.
2. Subway Cave
Another local spelunking adventure is Subway Cave, roughly an hour’s drive from Shasta Lake. The one-third mile-long, self-guided tour leads you deep into a dormant lava tube.
Subway Cave is one of the largest lava caves accessible for walking in the world. The good news is that the tube is spacious enough that those who suffer from claustrophobia should be fine walking the man-made path.
You will need comfortable and sturdy walking shoes since the path is rough. Dress warm because the cave is a constant 46 degrees. Also, and this is important, bring a flashlight, unless you can see in the dark or have echolocation like a bat.
3. Witness Some of the Prettiest Waterfalls
No visit to Shasta Lake would be complete without discovering the prettiest waterfalls that dot the area—some only accessible by boat. Shasta’s eye-popping waterfalls include Bear Canyon Falls, Water Gulch Falls, Potem Falls, and Indian Creek Falls.
For those seeking a little excitement when viewing a waterfall consider a visit to Little BackBone Rockslide. This hidden jewel offers a chance to ride down the fall into a crystal-clear water pool. The slide promises adventure seekers an adrenalin rush and plenty of fun. This gorgeous swimming hole should be the first prize on anyone’s bucket list.
4. Majestic Snow-Capped Mount Shasta
Visit snow-capped Mount Shasta located just north of Shasta Lake. Majestic Mount Shasta rises 14,000 feet above sea level and is a potentially active volcano. It is the second highest peak in the Cascades.
The mountain is a drawing card for skiing enthusiasts and rock climbers of all levels. Mount Shasta and its surroundings are part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
5. Castle Crags
Compared to the smooth, snow-covered slopes of Mount Shasta, Castle Crag is the geological equivalent of rock n’ roll. Rough granite spires rise like towers, 6000-feet high in the Castle Crags State Park. A day visit offers hiking, picnicking, and fishing.
The majestic granite towers are called plutons and are believed to have formed around 65 million years ago, in the Jurassic period.
The Crags Trail is part of the 28 miles of paths that wander around the park. It offers the most challenging trail and leads to spectacular views as well as to the base of Castle Dome.
Located only 21 north of Shasta Lake, this destination makes a perfect day trip.
Plan you Stay Today
Northern California’s Shasta Lake offers so much for outdoor lovers. Dig a little deeper and unpack some of Northern California’s finest natural attractions.