Looking for a new way to spend a weekend in the Sacramento area? RV camping fans will find two Northern California towns, each with its own vintage charm, along historic Hwy 99E. The towns of Chico and Red Bluff are connected by this scenic byway that parallels the Sacramento River, and is also conveniently close to Mendocino and Plumas National Forests.
Chico – Art for Everyone
You’ll find plenty to keep you busy on our first stop along Historic Hwy 99. While RV camping near Chico, CA, here are five things you won’t want to miss in this friendly town with an artistic flair.
- SoPo and The Junction, a vibrant, vintage district where the distinct blend of art, music, eateries and special events make the area a favorite of Chico State students.
- Thursday Night Market on Broadway, held weekly April through September, is a special treat for Chico visitors hoping to experience artists, artisans, food truck chefs and the town’s eclectic music scene, all in one event.
- Chico’s Public Art offerings include stunning sculptures, murals and mosaics throughout Downtown Chico. Plan time to see each one on your trip.
- Bidwell Park, more than three thousand acres on the banks of Big Chico Creek, is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. Whether you’re hiking the more rugged trails of the Upper Park or strolling the serene pathways of the Lower Park, it’s the best way to explore Chico outdoors. Scenic bonus—you can enter the park trail system through Chico’s beautiful City Plaza.
- Eighth & Main Antique Center in Downtown Chico offers antiques and collectibles hunters nearly thirty thousand square feet of shopping. Come early and be prepared to be amazed at what you’ll find in hundreds of booths over two floors.
Hwy 99E – Chico to Red Bluff
When you’re ready to pack up the RV and head down the road to Red Bluff, it’s an easy hour’s drive north, IF you don’t stop to take advantage of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable offerings along the way.
Once in Red Bluff, you’ll soon see why Northern California RV travelers mark the town as a favorite stop. Not only is it known for its Western history and a great selection of antique stores, it’s also adjacent to Lassen Volcanic National Park. In other words, camping in Red Bluff always promises fantastic views as well as plenty of entertainment!
Once you’ve made a driving circuit of Red Bluff, built high above the Sacramento River, here are four more ideas for spending time while you’re there:
- Shop and stroll in the Victorian charm of Downtown Red Bluff to find antiques, local arts and crafts and an impressive array of Western wear. Tip for RV camping rodeo fans: if you happen to be in town the third weekend of April, don’t miss the Red Bluff Round-Up, the country’s biggest two-day rodeo
- Take a walking tour of the town’s gorgeous Victorian homes and be sure to tour the Kelly-Griggs House Museum (open Sundays only) to learn even more about the area’s early settlers.
- Camp at Lassen Volcanic National Park, just north of town,
and surrender to the wilderness beauty of the region. Whether your idea of outdoor recreation is a quiet walk on a forest trail or fishing an untamed waterway, you’ll find a place to do it in the shadow of Lassen Peak.
- Visit Gaumer’s Jewelry & Museum: In business for decades, Gaumer’s offers shoppers the chance to learn about local mining history while exploring displays and exhibits featuring gems, minerals and custom-made jewelry.
How to get to Chico, our first destination on Hwy 99E? You actually have two choices,
- Follow I-5 (formerly known as Hwy 99W) north from Sacramento until you reach Hwy 32 and follow it east to Chico.
- Follow CA70/Hwy 99E north from Sacramento to Marysville and then continue north thru farmland and orchards on CA70 to Oroville, swinging west on CA149 to Chico.
A trip along Northern California’s Historic Hwy 99E promises plenty for art lovers, antiques hunters and history buffs. Make the whole trip in a weekend, or slow things down and branch out to the magnificent national forests and parks surrounding Chico and Red Bluff for a big dose of natural wonder.
Don’t own an RV? No problem—nothing could be easier than picking up your reserved motorhome rental in Sacramento, or if you’re planning to extend your trip to enjoy the Bay Area, our San Francisco location is waiting to help. We hope you’ll add your trip report to the Comments below!