Multiple Cities Outdoor Adventurer

16 of the Best Scenic Beauties & Scenic Viewing Areas in Butte County

With ter­rain rang­ing from the val­ley floor to peaks in Lassen Nation­al For­est, Butte Coun­ty is home to diverse ter­rain offer­ing a vari­ety of beau­ti­ful North­ern Cal­i­for­nia scenery and scenic view­ing areas. From high­er ele­va­tion look­outs to val­ley wet­lands to hid­den water­falls, you’ll def­i­nite­ly want to bring a camera. 

Get your explo­rations start with our list of the top 16 scenic beau­ties and scenic view­ing areas in Butte County.

Feath­er Falls

Tucked away in the moun­tains of the Plumas Nation­al For­est, the 410-foot Feath­er Falls proves that you don’t have to go all the way to Yosemite to expe­ri­ence majes­tic water­falls. In fact, it has been called the most beau­ti­ful water­fall in Cal­i­for­nia out­side of Yosemite” by the San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle — but we think it’s even bet­ter, because you don’t have to fight any crowds. It’s no won­der that this was vot­ed the favorite scenic beau­ty in the county.

*Due to exten­sive dam­age from the North Com­plex Fire, Feath­er Falls, the trail, and its sur­round­ing areas ARE INDEF­I­NITE­LY CLOSED to hik­ing, hunt­ing, camp­ing, and fish­ing due to ongo­ing recov­ery efforts. The trail to Feath­er Falls was bad­ly dam­aged and is extreme­ly dan­ger­ous — any­one who tries to visit/​hike the area will be cited.

North Table Moun­tain Eco­log­i­cal Reserve

Few places in Butte Coun­ty are more beau­ti­ful than North Table Moun­tain Eco­log­i­cal Reserve. The eco­log­i­cal reserve comes to life after the rains, when you’ll dis­cov­er over a dozen flow­ing as well as stun­ning ver­nal pools cre­at­ed by the under­ly­ing basalt. And in the spring, wild­flow­ers burst into bloom in the warm weath­er — it’s the per­fect place for some Insta­gram-wor­thy shots, espe­cial­ly dur­ing famed superblooms” after a par­tic­u­lar­ly wet rainy season.

Phan­tom Falls

The biggest and most well-known water­fall on Table Moun­tain, Phan­tom Falls is a fleet­ing beau­ty and well worth the not-that-dif­fi­cult trek. Only flow­ing dur­ing the rainy sea­son (hence the name), Phan­tom Falls drops 166 feet off the edge of Coal Canyon, mak­ing for a strik­ing expe­ri­ence. Make sure to come dur­ing late win­ter and spring to catch this beau­ti­ful and fleet­ing sight.

Wild & Scenic High­way 70 Feath­er Riv­er Byway

Take a dri­ve along the Wild & Scenic High­way 70 Feath­er Riv­er Byway for the pret­ti­est road trip through Butte Coun­ty. Run­ning through Butte and Plumas coun­ties for over 130 miles, you’ll fol­low along both the North Fork and Mid­dle Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er and be treat­ed to a wide vari­ety of diverse ter­rain, land­scape, wildlife, and ele­va­tion. Look for water­falls and spring wild­flow­ers, fall foliage col­or changes, and one of the orig­i­nal Wild & Scenic Rivers along the Mid­dle Fork.

Cur­tain Falls

Made of gran­ite smoothed over the mil­len­nia, Cur­tain Falls is a beau­ti­ful, nat­ur­al water slide found along the Mid­dle Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er. It requires a hike along one of Butte County’s most chal­leng­ing trails, rec­om­mend­ed for sea­soned hik­ers only, but when you get there, you’ll under­stand why the trip was worth it (and you’ll dis­cov­er why this is one of the area’s tough­est hikes on the steep trip back).

Big Bald Rock

A large batholith like Yosemite’s famed Half Dome, Big Bald Rock is its more acces­si­ble, intact coun­ter­part — minus the crowds. It’s large area makes it per­fect for hik­ing and explor­ing its crevass­es and unique rock for­ma­tions, with great vis­tas over­look­ing the Sacra­men­to Val­ley and the Sier­ra Neva­da on clear days.

Ravine Falls

En route to Phan­tom Falls on Table Moun­tain, you’ll pass Ravine Falls (offi­cial­ly Fern Falls), a more promi­nent sea­son­al water­fall. The 71-foot water­fall flows beau­ti­ful­ly dur­ing the rainy sea­son and adds to over­all beau­ti­ful scenery and atmos­phere on the eco­log­i­cal reserve.

Butte Creek Water­shed Overlook

Those tak­ing the Sky­way from Par­adise to Chico should pull off at the vista area to take in the scenic views from the Butte Creek Water­shed Over­look. Par­tic­u­lar­ly beau­ti­ful in the spring, the Butte Creek Water­shed is home to green mead­ows, pools and rif­fles, slow mov­ing deep pools, and even a minia­ture Grand Canyon as it enters the val­ley floor. While the entire water­shed encom­pass­es over 510,000 acres, the over­look is the per­fect spot to enjoy a slice of its beau­ty. It’s on the North side of the road, so if you’re trav­el­ing up the Sky­way to Par­adise, you’ll have to cross the high­way to access it — or just make the stop on the return trip out of town.

Mon­key Face

In Chico’s Upper Bid­well Park, Mon­key Face is both a great scenic beau­ty and spot for scenic view­ing. As you start the easy 15-minute hike to the top, you’ll be able to see the dis­tinct rock for­ma­tion, which looks like a bridged brow over two eyes, that inspired Mon­key Face’s name. Then, from the top, you’ll take in views of Horse­shoe Lake and much of Upper Park. Find a seclud­ed spot to watch the sun­set, relax on a pic­nic blan­ket, or explore some more.

16 of the Best Scenic Beauties & Scenic Viewing Areas in Butte County
Tim Olson

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

With a diverse ter­rain sur­round­ed by miles of rich agri­cul­tur­al lands and loca­tion along the Pacif­ic Fly­way, the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gri­d­ley is a wildlife haven for over 300 species of birds. While you can enjoy wildlife view­ing year-round, you’ll be delight­ed by hun­dreds of thou­sands of migrat­ing birds — with snow geese being the most renowned and antic­i­pat­ed — that touch down annu­al­ly between Novem­ber and Feb­ru­ary. Bring your cam­era and binoc­u­lars for this win­ter won­der, espe­cial­ly for the breath-tak­ing dusk fly-off.”

16 of the Best Scenic Beauties & Scenic Viewing Areas in Butte County

Llano Seco Unit

Just 10 miles south­west of Chico, the Llano Seco Unit is anoth­er great spot for bird watch­ing dur­ing the win­ter months. It’s view­ing plat­forms are per­fect for set­ting up a cam­era to get the per­fect shot of geese of many vari­eties and numer­ous oth­er birds, includ­ing unusu­al migrat­ing species in the fall, like the black-bel­lied plover, and less com­mon duck species, like the Eurasian Wigeon, in the win­ter. Or you can enjoy a short walk­ing trail and dis­cov­er oth­er wildlife species and enjoy dif­fer­ent views of the area.

Bid­well Bar Bridge

You’ll find two Bid­well Bar Bridges in Butte Coun­ty, each with their own charm and beau­ty. The larg­er of the two sus­pen­sion bridges is the icon­ic green one stretch­ing across Lake Oroville along State Route 162 — beau­ti­ful in its own right and a great spot for unique views of the lake. The oth­er is the orig­i­nal Bid­well Bar Bridge from 1855, which stands near Bid­well Canyon Mari­na; when the water’s high, it’s one of the few places where you can walk over the lake.

16 of the Best Scenic Beauties & Scenic Viewing Areas in Butte County

Col­by Moun­tain Lookout

Locat­ed in Butte County’s high coun­try, north­east of Butte Mead­ows, the Col­by Moun­tain Look­out is an active fire look­out that offers panoram­ic views of Lassen Nation­al For­est. It’s a per­fect spot to escape the val­ley heat below in the sum­mer or enjoy some win­ter snow while enjoy­ing beau­ti­ful scenery.

Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area

Cre­at­ed to pro­tect and restore his­tor­i­cal wet­lands, today the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area is con­sid­ered one of the finest wet­land habi­tat com­plex­es in North Amer­i­ca. Vis­i­tors can stroll through 9,600 acres across three units — Llano Seco, Howard Slough, and Lit­tle Dry Creek — for wildlife view­ing, bird watch­ing, and gen­er­al sightseeing.

Chico Obser­va­to­ry

Explore the stars and uni­verse, free of charge, at the Chico Obser­va­to­ry, where you can get a close-up view of the night sky above through its tele­scopes. It’s a great place to learn about the plan­ets, stars, space explo­ration, and upcom­ing celes­tial events.

Lake Oroville Vis­i­tor Center

Over­look­ing the lake and the dam, the Lake Oroville Vis­i­tor Cen­ter offers some of the best views of the area from its 47-foot view­ing tow­er. With two high-pow­ered tele­scopes, you can enjoy spec­tac­u­lar panoram­ic views of the lake. Make sure to vis­it the inter­pre­tive muse­um as well, which show­cas­es the region’s his­to­ry and the dam, com­plete with a live-feed of the dam.

16 of the Best Scenic Beauties & Scenic Viewing Areas in Butte County