HIGHWAY 5 NORTH ●SHASTA LAKE AREA
Shasta Lake is approximately 235 miles north of San Francisco.
This area is known for spectacular scenery and warm water temperatures in summer. The drive around the circumference of California’s largest lake adds up to 360 miles, and because it is a reservoir you won’t find any beaches. The Forest Service has eliminated all private docks on the lake, and restrictions have stopped development here since the 1970s.
Lake Shasta Caverns 20359 Shasta Caverns Rd., in Lakehead. Fee. Discovered in 1878, these limestone and marble caverns didn’t open for tours until 1964. The 2-hour tour begins with a 15-minute catamaran cruise across the McCloud arm of Lake Shasta. Then visitors board a bus for a scenic, winding ride up the steep mountainside to the caverns. In this case, getting there really is half the fun. Nature trails, picnic facilities, and a snack bar are available.
Shasta Dam 16349 Shasta Dam Blvd., in Shasta Lake City, 5 mi. off Hwy. 5. Free. Constructed from 1938 to 1945 and measuring 602 feet high and 3,460 feet long, this is the second-largest dam in the U.S. and it has one of the highest center-overflow spillways in the world (it’s three times higher than Niagara Falls!). The guided 1-hour tour includes an elevator ride 428 feet deep into the dam’s depths and a view of the spillway and power plant.
Tail O’ the Whale Restaurant 10300 Bridge Bay Rd., at Bridge Bay Resort internal link, 10 mi. N of Redding. Situated up on a knoll, this longtime restaurant has a following. Seemingly held up by thick ropes, hatch-cover tables provide a pleasant pine-filtered lake view. The crisp, filtered tap water comes right from the lake, so no need to order bottled. Best menu bets are surf & turf, fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, housemade meatloaf, fish & chips, and a hamburger. Heartier appetites favor steak or chicken picatta, and Friday and Saturday nights feature a prime rib special.
Tsasdi Resort 19990 Lakeshore Dr., in Lakehead, 25 mi. N of Redding on Sacramento Arm of lake, 3 mi. off I-5. 20 cabins. All kitchens. Heated pool. Pronounced “sauz-dee,” this family-friendly resort is tucked into a peaceful black-oak forest with a filtered view of Shasta Lake. Situated across the street (it is actually a country lane with little traffic) from the lake, these updated housekeeping cabins have knotty-pine interiors with high beamed ceilings and private decks. Many can accommodate large families. Facilities include volleyball and basketball courts, a general store with a pool table and video games, and a private boat dock that guests can also fish from. Folks tend to come back every year, often for the same week, so reserve as early as possible. There is a 2-night minimum September through May, and a 1-week minimum in summer.
Houseboats Lake Shasta has the largest fleet of commercial houseboats in the world.
Motel Row Inexpensive motels are located at Bridge Bay and in the Lakehead area.