Designated a scenic highway in 1991, this gorgeous route was dubbed "From the Valley Oaks to the Redwood Coast."
From a sun-drenched valley near Redding to the fog-cooled coast of Arcata, Highway 299 traverses a rugged slice of Northern California, snaking past forested mountains, Gold Rush towns, roaring rivers, and calm lakes. You can do the 140-mile drive in one day, but an overnight stay lets you enjoy its pleasures at a leisurely pace.
Shasta State Historic Park The brick ruins here still speak of a gold boom. The Blumb Bakery sometimes stokes up its wood-fired oven and the Courthouse Museum displays California art from 1850 to 1950, with works by Grace Carpenter Hudson, Percy Gray, and Emanuel Leutze. parks.ca.gov.
Whiskeytown Lake This glass-smooth body of water with 36 miles of shoreline and a commanding view of 6,209-foot-tall Shasta Bally invites a dip, boat ride, or fishing. At the visitor center, ask about the hike to the 220-foot Whiskeytown Falls.
Big Flat Spot the Strawhouse and you’ve found the area’s best cappuccino. Savor a cup with baked goods on the deck over the Trinity River. You’ll certainly see swimmers, kayakers, and campers; you may spy an osprey or eagle.
Willow Creek In this region’s “Bigfoot Capital,” the Willow Creek–China Flat Museum preserves signs of Sasquatch: photos, clippings, and footprint casts.
Arcata Back at sea level (on Highway 101, two miles south of the junction with Highway 299), grab a creative pizza at Folie Douce.
Photography by Zack Frank/Shutterstock (Joss); Pecold/Shutterstock (Trinity River)
This article was first published in September 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.