About The Northern Interior
The Northern Interior
Forests of fir and pine, crystal-clear lakes and snow-covered mountain peaks arew among the best places to visit in this section. They fill the several hundred square miles that make up California’s northern interior, a sparsely-populated largely alpine region that fully justifies its “empty quarter” nickname. This is not a place to visit half-heartedly. You have a 160-mile trek north along Interstate-5 (referred to as I-5), just to reach the region’s nub and even then, while there is plenty to whet nature lovers’ appetites beside the route – not least the moody profile of Mount Shasta – the Northern Interior’s most pristine landscapes only reveal themselves to travellers sufficiently interested in making intrepid sojourns along winding country back roads.
The climate of the Northern Interior also calls for respect. The area has some of the highest rainfall in the country and snow and freezing temperatures are regular features of the winter months. Visit from May to September and the region should be welcomingly warm and sunny – sometimes surprisingly hot in the lower-lying regions.
To pass through quickly take the I-5, the only major road to cross the whole Northern Interior and link the region’s larger towns. Though short on sophistication, such communities provide food and accommodation at very fair prices. One or two also have intriguing museums providing glimpses into the past of one of California’s most challenging regions, where several major confrontations between Native Americans and early white settlers took place. A few settlements with rather more character line the slower route, chiefly Hwy-70 and Hwy-99, which joins I-5 at Red Bluff.
To derive maximum enjoyment from the region’s unique landscapes, it is essential to combine this state-wide route with one or other of our local explorations in the area. These take in the bubbling mud pits and hot springs of Lassen Volcanic National Park and the lava formations of Lava Beds National Monument. Both will leave a lasting impression of the volatile geothermal forces beneath the state. And, for your money, one of the joys of journeying to such remote spots is later being able to brag about their awesome qualities to urban Californians, most of whom never venture anywhere near them.
Four Greyhound (www.greyhound.com) buses in each direction on the Sacramento – Portland (Oregon) route call daily at various points of interest: Chico, Marysville, Mount Shasta, Oroville, Red Bluff, Redding and Yreka, though connections further east are extremely limited. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train route up the coast is also a good way of seeing this area, though do not stop at as many locations, but is quicker – (https://www.amtrak.com/coast-starlight-train).