Multiple Cities Getaway Artist

An A-to-Z Attraction Tour of Butte County

Nation­al media men­tions in recent years have high­light­ed Butte County’s great­est hits, like Big Bald Rock and Feath­er Falls in the foothills, Bid­well Man­sion and Chico State Uni­ver­si­ty in Down­town Chico, and the always pop­u­lar Lake Oroville. How­ev­er, Butte Coun­ty locals know the area is packed with so many more note­wor­thy things to do, see, and expe­ri­ence that deserve men­tion along­side our nation­al­ly known favorites.

So come along with us as we take an alpha­bet­i­cal tour through under-the-radar attrac­tions, hid­den gems, and every­thing in between.

Jump to: B — D | E — G | H — J | K — M | N — P | Q — S | T — V | W — Z | Reels

A is for Axe Throw­ing at the Hatch­et House”

A hatch­et a day keeps the psy­chi­a­trist away — that’s what the folks at The Hatch­et House believe, and it’s etched for all to see above its wood­en lanes, each with a wait­ing bulls­eye at each end. But there’s more ways to chill out than just chuck­ing around chop­ping hard­ware, and the Hatch­et House accom­mo­dates with a laid-back vibe and an intrigu­ing beer selec­tion, in addi­tion to its main attraction.

That the fair­ly rur­al Butte Coun­ty com­mu­ni­ty has an axe-throw­ing hall may not raise many eye­brows, but few might guess that the Hatch­et House is a female-owned and ‑oper­at­ed ven­ture. Entre­pre­neur Ari­an­na Math­iopoulous takes great pride in that fact and has cre­at­ed a unique venue here, com­bin­ing two of humanity’s favorite forms of stress relief: Knock­ing back a brew and throw­ing stuff.

Mathiopoulous’s pas­sion shines through in every ele­ment of the Hatch­et House, from plen­ty of axe pun-cen­tered mer­chan­dise to her own cen­tral posi­tion­ing in the busi­ness­es’ oper­a­tions and mar­ket­ing. It’s not uncom­mon to see her or staff giv­ing hatch­et-throw­ing tips to patrons — which they rel­ish doing, con­sid­er­ing that fun and safe­ty are key pri­or­i­ties. The Hatch­et House’s friend­ly, endear­ing­ly off-beat envi­ron­ment is all about Math­iopoulous’ influ­ence — after all, not too many bars will invite you to pull up a stool to play Mario Kart on Super Nin­ten­do with the own­er. (Then again, no oth­er bars around here let you fling axes around, either.)

There are lev­els of com­pe­ti­tion for every­one, from first-timers to folks look­ing to get into league play. Above all else, it’s a one-of-a-kind social club in Butte Coun­ty, where a few bud­dies look­ing for a low-key way to pass the time over a beer would be just at home as a bach­e­lorette par­ty. With its eas­i­ly acces­si­ble loca­tion on Hwy. 32 and Cher­ry Street, day-drinker friend­ly hours of oper­a­tion, wel­com­ing envi­ron­ment, and nov­el con­cept, the Hatch­et House is a wor­thy part of any leisure-focused trip to Chico, whether you’re kick­ing off a night out with friends or decom­press­ing from a stress­ful week at work. Hon­est­ly, more places should have hatch­ets to throw.

B is for Bid­well Bar Bridge”

Butte Coun­ty has a rich his­to­ry of pio­neer­ing, reach­ing back to the Gold Rush era. Oroville has been a renowned site for some sig­nif­i­cant firsts” and largests,” espe­cial­ly when it comes to deal­ing with water. To wit, the Bid­well Bar Bridge — which locals know is actu­al­ly a ref­er­ence to two sus­pen­sion bridges — stands as both a Cal­i­for­nia His­tor­i­cal Land­mark and a mon­u­ment to some of Oroville’s inge­nu­ity as it has man­aged the Feath­er Riv­er since the mid-1800s.

Most passers-through in Butte Coun­ty will only ever see the big green bridge” con­struct­ed along High­way 162; even most locals in the area only rec­og­nize the 1,108-foot sus­pen­sion bridge that spans Lake Oroville. That bridge, built in 1965, is his­toric in its own right: When it was built, it stood as one of the world’s high­est sus­pen­sion bridges, soar­ing more than 620 feet above the Feath­er River’s streambed; now, when full, Lake Oroville’s sur­face is much clos­er to the bridge. (Bit of a macabre fun fact: Bidwell’s Bar” is the name of the town in the orig­i­nal Feath­er Riv­er canyon that was flood­ed with the cre­ation of the Oroville Dam. Some­thing to think about when boat­ing on the lake!) Vis­i­tors who par­take in Oroville’s ample aquat­ic recre­ation will almost assured­ly see this green, two-lane giant, and, depend­ing on where they launch their boat from, may even scoot across it on the dri­ve over.

But the more adven­ture-mind­ed will also make a point to vis­it the orig­i­nal bridge, a 240-foot sus­pen­sion bridge built in 1855 and moved to the south side of Lake Oroville 111 years lat­er. The orig­i­nal was California’s first steel sus­pen­sion bridge, and sup­port­ed vehi­cle traf­fic for almost a cen­tu­ry. It’s now func­tion­al­ly only a foot bridge (and superb self­ie locale), but it still stands as an engi­neer­ing mar­vel in state his­to­ry. The Amer­i­can Soci­ety of Civ­il Engi­neers has declared Bid­well Bar a Nation­al His­toric Civ­il Engi­neer­ing Land­mark. If you get the chance to hoof it across the orig­i­nal, con­sid­er that you’re walk­ing on steel that orig­i­nal­ly trav­eled from New York by ship, around Chile’s Cape Horn. 

This bridge has seen a lot of his­to­ry — and you should see this bridge.

C is for Cus­tom Bal­loon Ani­mals from Michael Taylor”

Ever seen some­one frown while wear­ing a bal­loon hat? Nei­ther have we. (We’re pret­ty sure it’s phys­i­cal­ly impossible.)

Regard­less of age, there’s some­thing about bal­loons that adds a cer­tain hap­pi­ness to any sit­u­a­tion. No child’s birth­day par­ty, farm­ers mar­ket, or cel­e­bra­tion in Butte Coun­ty is com­plete with­out the Chico Bal­loon Man.” With more than 30 years in the jug­gling busi­ness across eight dif­fer­ent states, Michael Tay­lor is an estab­lished com­e­dy jug­gler and bal­loon artist who offers high-ener­gy solo or two-man shows. 

Tay­lor has become a fix­ture in the local arts com­mu­ni­ty for the cre­ative way he con­torts and twists bal­loons into awe-inspir­ing ani­mals, hats, and oth­er bal­loon-based cre­ations. By bring­ing an over­whelm­ing sense of joy to his bal­loon-twist­ing craft, Taylor’s unique skill set has earned him a rep­u­ta­tion as the life of children’s par­ties, school cel­e­bra­tions, and count­less oth­er events. 

That’s not the only trick up Taylor’s sleeve, how­ev­er. As a mas­ter in the ancient skill of jug­gling, Taylor’s toss-by-toss method has helped thou­sands of peo­ple learn how to jug­gle over the years. He also puts on quite the show with his own jug­gling, thanks to use of items that include but are not lim­it­ed to: rub­ber chick­ens, flam­ing torch­es, jump ropes, machetes and more. If it can be tossed in the air, Tay­lor can jug­gle it. 

Tay­lor spe­cial­izes in both children’s and busi­ness events, cus­tomiz­ing each of his shows to his spe­cif­ic audi­ence. For children’s events, Tay­lor main­tains a fast-paced per­for­mance to keep each young view­er engaged and on the edge of their seats. Busi­ness events, mean­while, incor­po­rate par­tic­i­pa­tion and vol­un­teers from the audi­ence for a live­ly, action-packed spec­ta­cle sure to wow the crowd. 

Tay­lor and his bal­loon-twist­ing, object-jug­gling craft are a fix­ture in the Chico com­mu­ni­ty. Whether you’re at a local event like the Thurs­day Night Market or a pri­vate par­ty, there’s a good chance that you might run into the Chico Bal­loon Man. If you’re look­ing to mix Michael Taylor’s cus­tom bal­loon cre­ations or jug­gling exper­tise into your next event or cel­e­bra­tion, vis­it www​.catchitquick​jug​gling​.com.

D is for Doc­u­men­taries and More at Pageant Theatre”

If you fan­cy the preser­va­tion of unique cin­e­ma and sup­port­ing local busi­ness, you’ll find a per­fect depar­ture from the con­glom­er­at­ed movie-mul­ti­plex scene at The Pageant The­atre, right on the edge of Down­town Chico. The ven­er­a­ble local the­ater has long pro­vid­ed Butte Coun­ty res­i­dents with a venue to view more off-beat cin­e­mat­ic fare — the types of pro­duc­tions more like­ly to star at Sun­dance than to show at Cin­e­mark. A film art­house in every sense of the word, The Pageant has always strived to show films that break from the block­buster mold. Though the well-worn front-row couch­es of yes­ter­year are gone, the the­ater remains an inti­mate, cozy set­ting in which to take in a thought­ful show, be it a provoca­tive doc­u­men­tary, the lat­est inde­pen­dent film rag­ing across the film fes­ti­val cir­cuit, or even major Oscar winners.

It isn’t just the cin­e­mat­ic offer­ings that set The Pageant apart, though. Since 1980, the the­ater has main­tained its neigh­bor­hood art­house” feel; from the street, only the dec­o­ra­tive film reels and a cou­ple of mod­est­ly sized posters on the walls give away what lies behind the sin­gle red door. That, of course, is a charm­ing, com­fort­able view­ing venue fea­tur­ing some more health-ori­ent­ed twists on old-school musts, like its vin­tage organ­ic pop­corn mak­er and cash-only snack bar, com­plete with veg­an-friend­ly options, beer, kom­bucha, and nat­ur­al soda. Plus, The Pageant’s own­ers recent­ly updat­ed the the­ater with a new fil­tra­tion sys­tem, ded­i­cat­ed wheel­chair spaces, and oth­er acces­si­bil­i­ty features. 

If your moviego­ing excur­sions have felt a lit­tle stale late­ly, or if you’re sim­ply want­i­ng to take in a doc­u­men­tary or film that’s not avail­able any­where else in the coun­ty, The Pageant is more than sim­ply an alter­na­tive to a big the­ater — it’s a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to expand your cin­e­mat­ic hori­zons, sup­port a beloved com­mu­ni­ty icon, and get a true art­house expe­ri­ence you just won’t get any­where else in the area.

Return to Top

E is for Easy Bird Watch­ing at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area”

Butte Coun­ty is a ter­rif­ic place to soak in some nature, but one area, in par­tic­u­lar, stands out as a must-vis­it: the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. If you haven’t been bird­watch­ing against the back­drop of the world’s small­est moun­tain range, can you real­ly call your­self an out­door enthusiast? 

Gray Lodge, locat­ed in Gri­d­ley, is home to more than 300 species of wildlife, includ­ing shore­birds, water­fowl, and a vari­ety of mam­mals. Dur­ing fall and win­ter, more than a mil­lion water­fowl pass through the area, set­ting the stage for a stun­ning dis­play of these majes­tic crea­tures in the sky. And it’s not just water­fowl, either. Hawks, eagles, kites, owls, and more fre­quent the area. Depend­ing on when you vis­it, you can encounter migra­to­ry flocks of ducks, snow geese, corvids, and even white pelicans. 

The gath­er­ing of migrat­ing birds and the area’s indige­nous species, all in one major rest stop along the Pacif­ic Fly­way, makes for a spec­tac­u­lar sen­so­ry show — a cacoph­o­ny of bird­song and the incred­i­ble whoosh of feath­ers in flight. You can bring your binoc­u­lars if you real­ly want to spot indi­vid­ual spec­i­mens, but much in the way you would take in a fire­works dis­play — a visu­al feast with the naked eye — the birds of Gray Lodge light up the sky just the same.

Whether you’re dri­ving the 3‑mile auto loop, trekking through Gray Lodge’s assort­ment of trails, or tak­ing a guid­ed tour, the wildlife area is the per­fect venue to enjoy a tran­quil, relax­ing expe­ri­ence in the mid­dle of nature. Gen­er­al hours are dawn to dusk. Note that you’ll need a Cal­i­for­nia DFW Lands Pass or valid hunt­ing or fish­ing license to vis­it. For more infor­ma­tion, call (530) 8467500.

Maybe you’re with a group of fam­i­ly and friends, or on a solo expe­di­tion. Maybe you’re a wildlife lover, bird­ing jour­nal in hand, seek­ing a glimpse of an exot­ic spec­i­men. Or maybe you’re a pho­tog­ra­ph­er armed with the gear to cap­ture the skies. What­ev­er your inter­ests and how­ev­er you vis­it, every­one will appre­ci­ate what Gray Lodge offers: a mag­nif­i­cent back­drop that high­lights both the serene beau­ty of nature and its inspir­ing, wild force. Sim­ply put, it is not to be missed.

F is for Free Sea­son­al Concerts”

How can you top a warm day in Butte Coun­ty? Just add music! One sure­fire way to trans­form a great sum­mer evening into a fun-filled spec­ta­cle that you won’t soon for­get is to top it off with some live tunes. Between Chico, Oroville, and Par­adise, there’s an abun­dance of free spring, sum­mer, and fall con­certs to infuse warm evenings in Butte Coun­ty with great music for you to enjoy with fam­i­ly and friends.

Chico’s Fri­day Night Concerts , host­ed by the Down­town Chico Busi­ness Association , are a high­light of hot sum­mers in town, com­bin­ing live, local music with all the com­forts and enter­tain­ment options that the city’s down­town offers. There’s no bet­ter way to enjoy your Fri­day night than to stop by down­town to pick up a deli­cious bite to eat, then mosey over to the city plaza with blan­kets and lawn chairs to set up shop from 7 – 8:30pm for the show. 

Host­ed by the Par­adise Ridge Cham­ber of Commerce , Paradise’s Par­ty in the Park mar­kets itself as a con­ver­gence of fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers designed to rein­force neigh­bor­hood bonds. These Wednes­day cel­e­bra­tions run for eight weeks between June and August, and fea­ture every­thing from pro­duce, crafts, com­mer­cial and non-prof­it ven­dors, live bands, and inter­mis­sion acts that include dances, youth groups, and demon­stra­tions. These events last from 5:30 – 8:15pm, offer­ing a suc­cinct blend of com­mu­ni­ty and commerce. 

Oroville offers spring and fall ver­sions with its Con­certs in the Park series. Held in the spring and in the fall, the Con­certs in the Park series offer a mix of live music, local ven­dors, food and drink options and even some fun on the Feath­er Riv­er. Host­ed by the Feath­er Riv­er Recre­ation & Park Dis­trict, the con­certs take place at River­bend Park in Oroville. There, you can shop local ven­dors, splash around on the banks of the Feath­er Riv­er, or sim­ply relax and enjoy live local music.

Whether you are cap­ping off a lazy sum­mer day with a chill con­cert or kick­ing off a spring night out with a show, the free con­certs avail­able in Butte Coun­ty serve as a great foun­da­tion to get out­side for an evening with your friends, fam­i­ly, and community.

G is for Green­line Tour Through Oroville”

His­to­ry, nature, and agri­cul­ture are the beat­ing heart of Oroville, and all are on dis­play in the Green­line Tour. The 15-mile dri­ving tour, fol­low­ing a paint­ed green line across town from the Feath­er Riv­er to Lake Oroville, cov­ers the major aspects that make Oroville what it is. Area res­i­dents might know Oroville as a Gold Rush boom­town, but even the most stu­dious locals can appre­ci­ate this com­pre­hen­sive liv­ing his­to­ry trip. And vis­i­tors may be shocked to see how much his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance this cor­ner of the state holds.

How long the tour takes is up to you. You’ll appre­ci­ate that free­dom at River­bend Park; you can launch a boat, hit the play­ground, play disc golf, or ven­ture into one of sev­er­al hik­ing trails. If you’ve got all day, you could spend much of it recre­at­ing here and Bedrock Park. Oth­er­wise, move on to Oroville’s ample muse­um scene, which includes the C.F. Lott Home, dat­ing back to 1856, and the Chi­nese Tem­ple. An offi­cial Cal­i­for­nia land­mark, it high­lights Chi­nese con­tri­bu­tions to the North State. There’s also Bolt’s Antique Tool Muse­um (learn more about them at let­ter X), a one-of-a-kind, 12,000-hand tool col­lec­tion. Move next through Cen­ten­ni­al Plaza , where you’ll take in a killer view of the Feath­er Riv­er. Next up are vis­its to the Cham­ber of Commerce , the Ehmann Home (a piv­otal con­trib­u­tor to California’s immense olive indus­try), and the Oroville State The­atre, which has stood for near­ly a cen­tu­ry. The Pio­neer His­to­ry Muse­um caps off the his­tor­i­cal part of the tour before cross­ing the Green­line Bridge and giv­ing way to some breath­tak­ing nature.

The Feath­er Riv­er Nature Cen­ter sits on the site of a for­mer Maidu fish­ing vil­lage. Across the riv­er is the Feath­er Riv­er Fish Hatch­ery, which serves as a waysta­tion for steel­head and Chi­nook salmon and allows vis­i­tors to check out the migra­tion with under­wa­ter win­dows. Final­ly, a trip to the top of the Oroville Dam—America’s tallest — and a drop-in at the Lake Oroville Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, com­plete with its incred­i­ble view­ing tow­er, round out the tour.

A town as rich in his­to­ry as Oroville can’t pos­si­bly be ful­ly expe­ri­enced in a day, of course. But the Green­line Tour gets pret­ty darn close.

Return to Top

H is for High-Ele­va­tion Snow Adventures”

An A-to-Z Attraction Tour of Butte County

If walk­ing in a win­ter won­der­land is your ide­al way to spend a day in the cold­er sea­son, Butte Coun­ty is home to ample room to roam when it snows. 

Pri­ma­ry cold-weath­er activ­i­ties in the high­er-ele­va­tion areas of Butte Coun­ty include snow­shoe­ing, cross-coun­try ski­ing, and snow­mo­bil­ing. For any of these, Jonesville is the place to go. Lying just beyond Butte Mead­ows with­in the Lassen Nation­al For­est, Jonesville is inar­guably one of the best win­ter waysta­tions around for adven­tur­ers look­ing to enjoy a snow day. For fam­i­lies with kids, sled­ders can whisk around on the hills near the stag­ing area or build a snow­man before retreat­ing to the tail­gate for a ther­mos of hot choco­late. Oth­ers will find acres of pris­tine pow­der to crunch through on foot, per­haps explor­ing the sur­round­ing woods. And of course, snow­mo­bil­ers can enjoy the crisp, brac­ing wind in their faces as they motor over the high country.

The Stag­ing Area up off Hum­boldt Road serves as the home base for numer­ous win­ter voy­ages. Cross-coun­try skiers, or those look­ing to break out their snow­shoes, have access to 9 miles of untamed trails in the Col­by Creek val­ley, with options for new­com­ers, inter­me­di­ate skiers, and even experts. Those look­ing for a lit­tle more dif­fi­cul­ty can opt for the 1,000-foot, 5‑mile climb to Col­by Moun­tain Look­out.

If you’re ready for a longer trek via snow­mo­bile from the Stag­ing Area, you’ve got more than 60 miles of trails over for­est ser­vice roads up through the High Coun­try. There is access to Col­by Moun­tain Look­out, and ambi­tious rid­ers look­ing for a chal­leng­ing day trip could even snow­mo­bile clear up to Lake Almanor. And of course, if you’re seek­ing a milder snowy out­ing for the fam­i­ly, the hills and banks up along Hum­boldt Road through Butte Mead­ows are excel­lent tobog­gan spots! 

Butte Coun­ty might not offer prime down­hill ski­ing, but that’s okay — there are plen­ty of spots where you can make a trek, gear up, and traipse through the powder.

I is for Ice Skat­ing Downtown”

Noth­ing quite says hol­i­day sea­son” like a trip to the out­door skat­ing rink. Butte Coun­ty is scarce­ly cold enough to freeze over any ponds, of course, but thanks to a down­town ice rink, there is now the per­fect option for vis­i­tors and locals alike to sharp­en up the skates, throw on a scarf, and enjoy a brisk skate. 

Accom­pa­nied by sea­son­al dec­o­ra­tion, win­ter excite­ment and occa­sion­al­ly even hol­i­day-sea­son music, even spec­ta­tors can eas­i­ly get into the spir­it at Chico Ice Rink in the Plaza ! The rink adds a charm to Down­town Chico that could fill out a full after­noon and evening of fun. Hol­i­day gift shop­ping is ter­rif­ic at the many local shops down­town, plen­ty of cafes and restau­rants are near­by to grab a warm bite or a hot drink, and the hus­tle and bus­tle of Christ­mas down­town adds to the sea­son­al vibe. 

No mat­ter your com­fort on the ice, the rink pro­vides sheer delight: the thrill as you and your date ven­ture away from the side­boards, the kids’ shrieks of joy (then pan­ic, then laugh­ter) as they fig­ure out how to go but not how to stop, the clas­sic nip of the cold at your nose — and yes, even the inevitable ice dust­ing on your back­side. You might for­get you’re not actu­al­ly on a frozen pond, after all.

J is for Jaunts Through the Ore­gon City & It’s Cov­ered Bridge”

If you’ve made the jour­ney to North Table Moun­tain Eco­log­i­cal Reserve to take in the water­falls and wild­flow­ers, you may not have real­ized that Ore­gon City was just a stone’s throw away. At this point in its exis­tence, it’s a city in name only, but it packs a few pic­turesque land­marks and bears plen­ty of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance to make it worth the slight detour next time you’re in the area.

Ore­gon City was estab­lished in 1848 as one of the first min­ing camps in the coun­ty. A group of 150 Ore­go­ni­ans made the trek south via the Apple­gate and Lassen trails as part of California’s gold rush, set­tling in the area and nam­ing it after their orig­i­nal home in Ore­gon City, Ore­gon. At its peak, Butte County’s Ore­gon City was home to upwards of 1,000 peo­ple, fea­tur­ing attrac­tions like saloons and dance halls as a reprieve for min­ers hop­ing to find their fair share of gold. When that gold even­tu­al­ly ran out, how­ev­er, the town’s pop­u­la­tion dwindled. 

Today, Ore­gon City stands as a Cal­i­for­nia His­toric Land­mark. It may not be the bustling com­mu­ni­ty it was near­ly two cen­turies ago, but there are some rem­nants of that era to help remind you of what it once was. The Ore­gon City School, for instance, was built in 1877 and held class­es until 1922, when a short­age of stu­dents forced its clo­sure. It has since been trans­formed into a muse­um main­tained by the Butte Coun­ty His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety, serv­ing as a unique time cap­sule from a for­got­ten time.

The Ore­gon City Cov­ered Bridge is much more mod­ern (hav­ing been built in 1983), but stands tall as a pic­ture-wor­thy high­light that wel­comes you into town. The dri­ve to Ore­gon City is worth it for the bridge pho­to op alone. But what real­ly makes this trip spe­cial is the chance to reflect on an ear­li­er age of this county’s his­to­ry, and to cap­ture a sense of the impact that California’s thrilling, short-lived gold rush had on these small min­ing com­mu­ni­ties. The town may be all but aban­doned, but the charm of a pre­vi­ous time in Ore­gon City perseveres. 

Return to Top

K is for Kayak­ing the Feath­er River”

Few bod­ies of water in the North State offer a com­bi­na­tion of leisure and excite­ment quite like the Feath­er Riv­er. Depend­ing on your expe­ri­ence lev­el and desires, you could rev­el in the peace and relax­ation that accom­pa­nies flat water kayak­ing on the Low­er Feath­er Riv­er, or seek out the adven­ture and adren­a­line that are trade­marks of the river’s Mid­dle Fork.

There’s a cer­tain seren­i­ty to log­ging a few hours (or an entire day) on the Low­er Feath­er Riv­er. It’s sur­round­ed by pic­ture-per­fect scenery, com­plete with the quaint silence that many nature lovers chase. As many in Butte Coun­ty know all too well, it can get pret­ty warm on this stretch of the riv­er in the sum­mer months, mean­ing plen­ty of water (plus a hat!) is essen­tial. How­ev­er, out­side of a kayak, stand-up pad­dle­board, or oth­er pre­ferred floata­tion device, you won’t need much else to thor­ough­ly enjoy a pleas­ant day on the water.

The Mid­dle Fork (and North Fork, for that mat­ter), by com­par­i­son, is some­thing of a dif­fer­ent beast. While the upper­most stretch­es of the fork can be clas­si­fied as a gen­tler kayak­ing expe­ri­ence, large sec­tions of the Mid­dle Fork appeal to more sea­soned, thrill-seek­ing kayak­ers. The kayak­ing on this part of the riv­er is any­thing but flat, fea­tur­ing exhil­a­rat­ing rapids, count­less boul­ders to nav­i­gate around (or over), and water­falls that are not for the faint of heart. The scenery through­out the Mid­dle Fork is incred­i­ble and unmatched, and any vet­er­an kayak­er in the North State should unques­tion­ably have this des­ti­na­tion on their buck­et list. They just have to be com­plete­ly pre­pared for the thrilling, dif­fi­cult twists, turns and rapids that the Mid­dle Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er will mer­ci­less­ly toss their way. 

The Feath­er Riv­er has some­thing to offer all age lev­els and expe­ri­ence ranges. There’s fam­i­ly fun to be had on the Low­er sec­tions of the riv­er, where safe, aquat­ic fun can be cul­ti­vat­ed just below the Lake Oroville dam. And, if you’re game for some of the best white-water kayak­ing this part of the state has to offer, the Mid­dle Fork has you cov­ered. What­ev­er path you pad­dle, the Feath­er Riv­er is sure to live up to expectations. 

L is for Live Shows at The­atre on the Ridge”

The major­i­ty of per­form­ing arts fans across Butte Coun­ty are already famil­iar with Paradise’s leg­endary The­atre on the Ridge. If you aren’t in the know, though, you’re in luck. The The­atre on the Ridge is steeped in his­to­ry, ded­i­cat­ed to being a cen­ter for cre­ative the­ater expe­ri­ences, and revered as a land­mark in Par­adise that with­stood even the harsh­est of nat­ur­al disasters.

The The­atre on the Ridge (TOTR) is the state’s old­est non-prof­it com­mu­ni­ty the­atre north of Sacra­men­to, with roots dat­ing back to 1975. What start­ed as two small pro­duc­tions year­ly inside a local gym­na­si­um even­tu­al­ly expand­ed into sev­en annu­al shows host­ed at a venue built in large part by vol­un­teer labor and con­tri­bu­tions from the sur­round­ing Par­adise com­mu­ni­ty. Today, the the­atre boasts more than 750 unique sea­son-tick­et sub­scribers to help fill the 101-seat facil­i­ty on a rou­tine basis.

In 2018, when the dev­as­tat­ing Camp Fire ripped through Par­adise, TOTR mirac­u­lous­ly sur­vived, albeit with smoke dam­age and destroyed fenc­ing around the prop­er­ty. Nev­er­the­less, TOTR reopened in Feb­ru­ary 2019 with a ren­di­tion of Radioland’s Return to Par­adise” — what TOTR Artis­tic Direc­tor Jer­ry Miller described as a love let­ter to Paradise.”

TOTR prides itself on pro­mot­ing edu­ca­tion and involve­ment in the per­form­ing arts as well as pre­sent­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for locals to both par­tic­i­pate in and enjoy the­ater. There is no age lim­it when it comes to who can get involved in pro­duc­tions with TOTR, and the the­ater reg­u­lar­ly wel­comes oppor­tu­ni­ties to show­case both clas­si­cal pro­duc­tions as well as dra­ma cre­at­ed by up-and-com­ing local writ­ers and artists. 

TOTR vis­i­tors can expect a range of under-the-radar gems, plus adap­ta­tions of more well-known fare, like Drac­u­la: the Musi­cal” and ren­di­tions of Broad­way shows like Too Many Cooks.” (Check their site for info on the cur­rent season’s per­for­mances.) Regard­less of which shows you decide to attend, TOTR brings togeth­er the best of what Butte County’s per­form­ing arts com­mu­ni­ty has to offer, evi­denced by its long his­to­ry of suc­cess­ful shows. Head­ing up the Ridge to see what TOTR has to offer is worth every penny.

M is for Moth­er Orange Tree”

You don’t have to go far to get up close and per­son­al to a majes­tic rel­ic of California’s Gold Rush; just head to the Cal­i­for­nia State Park North­ern Buttes Head­quar­ters in Oroville, where you’ll find the Moth­er Orange Tree, the old­est liv­ing orange tree in California.

For some­thing that lit­er­al­ly sets down roots, this Cal­i­for­nia His­tor­i­cal Land­mark sure has been on the move over the years. The tree, which is offi­cial­ly a Mediter­ranean sweet orange Cit­rus x sinen­sis cul­ti­var, was mere­ly two years old when it was acquired in Mazat­lan, Mex­i­co, back in 1856. Judge Joseph Lewis of Sacra­men­to was the orig­i­nal buy­er, and the tree was first plant­ed in Bidwell’s Bar, a gold min­ing camp just north­east of Oroville found­ed by John Bidwell.

The tree quick­ly became a fan favorite of min­ers in the area, espe­cial­ly as it grew to over 60 feet tall and pro­duced around 600 pounds of oranges each year. More than that, though, it served as proof that cit­rus trees could thrive in a cli­mate like Butte County’s. By 1863, 75 acres of orange trees had been plant­ed across the coun­ty. That num­ber bal­looned to 3,300 acres by 1900, with 50,000 orange trees being plant­ed in Oroville alone by 1888.

It hasn’t always been oranges and sun­shine for the Moth­er Orange Tree, how­ev­er. The tree has been relo­cat­ed twice: first from its orig­i­nal plant­i­ng site in 1862 to escape flood­ing from the Feath­er Riv­er, and once more in 1964 dur­ing the con­struc­tion of the Oroville Dam. More recent­ly, the tree suf­fered from frost in 1998 and had its sur­vival threat­ened before even­tu­al­ly resum­ing fruit production.

The Moth­er Orange Tree may not be an action-packed attrac­tion. It is, how­ev­er, a liv­ing land­mark that is steeped in his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance dat­ing back to the infan­cy of Butte Coun­ty. And while it’s ille­gal to pick oranges from the Moth­er Orange Tree, what­ev­er falls to the ground is fair game. So if you’re in the area, it’s absolute­ly worth the pit stop. But this beau­ti­ful, ven­er­a­ble bit of nat­ur­al his­to­ry is worth the dri­ve alone — and maybe you’ll even get to taste a bit of history. 

Return to Top

N is for Nor Cal Rep­tile Adventures”

There’s a new pair of rep­tile experts in town, and they’ve brought enough scaly friends to share with the whole coun­ty. Ken­ni and David Huff own Nor Cal Rep­tile Adventures (NCRA), Butte County’s newest one-stop shop for all of your rep­tile needs. Whether you or ani­mal-lovers in your life want to stop by the shop for the thrill of feel­ing a python coil­ing over your arm, or sim­ply admire these crea­tures’ beau­ti­ful col­ors and pat­terns from a close-but-safe dis­tance, the Huffs can help you cre­ate that experience.

The ros­ter includes famil­iar favorites such as tur­tles, tor­tois­es, lizards, and snakes. But the self-pro­claimed rep­tile addicts care for a far wider vari­ety of cold-blood­ed crit­ters. From false water cobras and Burmese pythons (Calvin is the largest at 13.5 feet and 96 pounds) to blue tegus, Sul­ca­ta tor­tois­es, and leop­ard geck­os, the Huffs have just about every­thing that any vis­it­ing rep­tile enthu­si­ast could ask for. The two opened up shop in 2020, hav­ing tak­en over fam­i­ly friend Ron Greenberg’s busi­ness Ron’s Rep­tiles.” Since then, Nor Cal Rep­tile Adven­tures has been host­ing birth­day par­ties and spe­cial events, coor­di­nat­ing school vis­its, and sell­ing feed­er rodents and insects, sup­plies, and even some rep­tiles themselves.

These inter­est­ing crea­tures some­times even make their way to the pub­lic — super­vised, of course. They’ve been known to make appear­ances at the Down­town Chico Thurs­day Night Mar­ket, with Speedy, the 120-pound tor­toise, pro­vid­ing the occa­sion­al shell ride to lucky, delight­ed tod­dlers. NCRA is also a safe sur­ren­der” facil­i­ty and accepts ani­mal dona­tions from own­ers who can no longer care for them.

The response from the com­mu­ni­ty has been over­whelm­ing­ly pos­i­tive. It’s not uncom­mon for Nor Cal Rep­tile Adven­tures to help new rep­tile own­ers learn how to prop­er­ly feed and care for their ball python, or to pro­vide an enter­tain­ing and edu­ca­tion­al per­for­mance for a child’s birth­day par­ty. Around town, the con­sen­sus is clear: Ken­ni and David and Co. are relent­less­ly pas­sion­ate about what they do, and they’re more than hap­py to help any of Butte County’s rep­tile lovers.

O is for Organ­ic Pro­duce and Tours at the Uni­ver­si­ty Farm”

Life’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent out at the Chico State Uni­ver­si­ty Farm. Time moves a lit­tle slow­er, the sun shines a lit­tle brighter, and the pro­duce grown through the Organ­ic Veg­etable Project is just that much more delicious.

As one of Chico’s hid­den gems in plain sight, the 800-acre Paul L. Byrne Memo­r­i­al Uni­ver­si­ty Farm is the bedrock for agri­cul­tur­al edu­ca­tion at Chico State. Estab­lished in 1960, stu­dents both attend class labs and work as part-time employ­ees at the facil­i­ty, which includes a beef unit, a mush­room unit, an organ­ic dairy unit, and so much more. There’s a good chance that if you’ve eat­en at a local restau­rant in town, you’ve eat­en some­thing grown or raised at the Uni­ver­si­ty Farm.

If you’re eager to dis­cov­er how the grub you’re eat­ing made its way to your plate, the Uni­ver­si­ty Farm offers month­ly, guid­ed pub­lic tours on the third Fri­day of every month, when mem­bers of the pub­lic can hop on a trac­tor and explore Chico State’s liv­ing laboratory.”

One of the most pop­u­lar and suc­cess­ful pro­grams com­ing out of that lab­o­ra­to­ry is the farm’s Organ­ic Veg­etable Project (OVP), which kicked off as a small-scale under­tak­ing in 2008. But what began as one acre of pro­duce has flour­ished into three acres and more than 50 vari­eties of veg­eta­bles to sup­ply the Com­mu­ni­ty Sup­port­ed Agri­cul­ture (CSA) mem­ber­ship. Those who sign up for a CSA mem­ber­ship are treat­ed to a box of pro­duce every week from April through Decem­ber in exchange for their month­ly mem­ber­ship fees. 

The project incor­po­rates the efforts of stu­dents, fac­ul­ty, local farm­ers and oth­er mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty to help sup­port the local food move­ment and small scale organ­ic veg­etable pro­duc­tion. Its goal, among sev­er­al oth­er ini­tia­tives, is to iden­ti­fy and share infor­ma­tion about the lat­est and great­est new veg­etable vari­eties to help local farm­ers get a leg up on the competition. 

Local farm­ing is a linch­pin of the Butte Coun­ty econ­o­my. With an abun­dance of organ­ic pro­duce to con­tribute to the area’s eater­ies, Chico State’s liv­ing lab­o­ra­to­ry” at the Uni­ver­si­ty Farm is an impor­tant part of the local farm-to-table process.

P is for Pedi­cab Rides with Mike G”

At its best, Down­town Chico is an envi­ron­ment filled with deca­dent food and drinks, exhil­a­rat­ing atmos­pheres, and mem­o­ries that you’ll cher­ish for­ev­er. And, as any­one who has done even a lit­tle bit of walk­ing around down­town can tell you, those mem­o­ries are incom­plete with­out a high-ener­gy, tune-blast­ing encounter with the area’s favorite pedi­cab dri­ver, Mike G. 

If you haven’t heard of Mike G‑Ride” Grif­fith before, you’ve almost sure­ly seen him. Cruis­ing down Main, Broad­way. or else­where in Chico’s net­work of icon­ic down­town road­ways, Mike G and his dog, Lil G, have been long-time fix­tures in the city’s nightlife. You’ll hear him before you see him, thanks to the pow­er­ful speak­ers deliv­er­ing upbeat tunes that fill the night air. But when you see him and his ener­getic dance moves, it becomes evi­dent that he tru­ly shares a pas­sion for patrolling the streets and giv­ing rides to those in need.

He’s far more than just a pedi­cab dri­ver. Mike G dons cre­ative cos­tumes for the hol­i­days, dress­ing up as Mr. Incred­i­ble for Hal­loween and don­ning an elf cos­tume around Christ­mas (look for him giv­ing San­ta a ride dur­ing Chico’s Christ­mas Pre­view). He’s become deeply ingrained in com­mu­ni­ty activism, serv­ing as one of Chico’s first ambas­sadors between local busi­ness­es and the home­less pop­u­la­tion. As a recov­er­ing addict with more than a decade of sobri­ety under his belt, he’s also been a staunch advo­cate for pro­vid­ing alter­na­tives to drunk dri­ving. To that end, he’s reg­u­lar­ly host­ed events like an annu­al drunk dri­ving aware­ness fundrais­er in hon­or of Kristi­na Chester­man, a Chico State stu­dent who was killed by a drunk dri­ver in 2013. And although he makes a liv­ing serv­ing as a human taxi­cab, any­one you ask is bound to have a sto­ry about the time Mike G got them or a friend home safe­ly for the night with­out ask­ing for a dime. 

The man is a cer­ti­fi­able liv­ing leg­end, hav­ing recent­ly earned the moniker by being named the top local per­son­al­i­ty for the fifth straight year by the Chico News & Review. When it comes down to it, there’s no sin­gle indi­vid­ual more embed­ded in the Down­town Chico expe­ri­ence than Mike G.

Return to Top

Q is for Quar­ter-mile Dirt Track Races at Sil­ver Dol­lar Speedway”

Even if you haven’t got­ten out to the grand­stands, chances are you’ve heard engines roar­ing in the dis­tance most Fri­day and Sat­ur­day nights dur­ing Chico sum­mers. The famil­iar hum belongs to the Sil­ver Dol­lar Speed­way, home of some of the most excit­ing, adren­a­line-filled action in the North State.

The high-banked, quar­ter-mile clay oval track has been oper­at­ing since 1962, though dirt rac­ing in Chico has even deep­er roots. Between 1948 and 1950, sprint car races were held on a half-mile track that sat where today’s track stands. Two addi­tion­al tracks were audi­tioned over the next decade-plus, cul­mi­nat­ing in the con­struc­tion of Sil­ver Dol­lar Speedway.

Today, it stands out for the unique enter­tain­ment it offers. The rac­ing is fast, the cars are loud, and the dirt flies far­ther than you could imag­ine (don’t dress too nice if you plan on mov­ing down the grand­stands). The high-octane laps under the speedway’s illu­mi­nat­ing tow­ers are a spec­ta­cle to behold. And, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of one of the world’s best rac­ers. House­hold names such as Tony Stew­art and Ricky Sten­house, Jr. have tak­en to the track at Sil­ver Dol­lar over the years.

Although sprint car rac­ing is Sil­ver Dollar’s bread and but­ter, it doesn’t begin to scratch the sur­face of the types of rac­ing that the track hosts. Each week boasts a line­up of sev­er­al class­es of cars, dirt mod­i­fieds, hob­by stocks, and more. The track even hosts annu­al mon­ster truck and dirt bike extrav­a­gan­zas for those who are less inter­est­ed in speed and more keen towards high-fly­ing acro­bat­ics and jaw-drop­ping hang time. Sil­ver Dol­lar is also home of the Gold Cup Race of Cham­pi­ons, a Sep­tem­ber sta­ple that attracts some of the best sprint car dri­vers in the country.

If you’re a new­com­er, there’s more than a few track vet­er­ans and bleach­er main­stays that would be more than hap­py to show you the ropes. Fair warn­ing: Casu­al fans at Sil­ver Dol­lar Speed­way quick­ly trans­form into ded­i­cat­ed reg­u­lars, and the week­ly engine revving down on Fair Street will keep draw­ing you back for anoth­er excit­ing night at the track. 

R is for Resilient Ridge Key Phoenix”

Across Butte Coun­ty, res­i­dents have strong feel­ings and emo­tions around the word resilient.” Most rec­og­nize it as the ral­ly­ing cry for the peo­ple of Par­adise, Mag­a­lia, and oth­er Ridge com­mu­ni­ties that endured the crush­ing effects of the Camp Fire in 2018

It makes sense, then, that Jessie Mercer’s sculp­ture, the Ridge Key Phoenix,” stands as a sym­bol of resilien­cy, while also serv­ing as a way to rec­og­nize and remem­ber the tragedy.

Mercer’s project, a sculpt­ed phoenix made from rough­ly 14,000 keys that belonged to those who lost some­thing dur­ing the Camp Fire, resides at the Build­ing Resilien­cy Cen­ter in Par­adise. It took Mer­cer eight months to cre­ate the stat­ue, care­ful­ly plac­ing keys from homes, busi­ness­es, cars and oth­er belong­ings that were lost in the fire. The final keys added to the piece were from her par­ents, placed in the phoenix’s beak to depict the care par­ents have for their children. 

The project has been just part of Mercer’s efforts to give back to a com­mu­ni­ty in need. In the months fol­low­ing the fire, the Par­adise native and Chico State alum­na uti­lized her mobile art stu­dio, Butte Coun­ty Art on Wheels, to hold art class­es for 12 Par­adise and Mag­a­lia K‑12 schools. In 2019, she part­nered with artists and stu­dents that had been dis­placed by the fire to paint 11 murals at schools impact­ed by the destruc­tion. And, with the help of a grant from the North Val­ley Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion, she assem­bled 1,000 You Mat­ter” art sup­ply kits for indi­vid­u­als affect­ed by the Camp Fire.

The Ridge Key Phoenix” was revealed at the Camp Fire’s one-year anniver­sary remem­brance. As Par­adise and its sur­round­ing areas have con­tin­ued to piece their lives back togeth­er and rebuild their com­mu­ni­ties, the phoenix has stood to show­case what’s pos­si­ble with resilience behind us. It may have been born from dis­as­ter, but it rep­re­sents thou­sands of peo­ple join­ing forces to cre­ate some­thing bet­ter, a sen­ti­ment that has not been lost on the res­i­dents of the Ridge.

S is for Stargaz­ing at the Chico Com­mu­ni­ty Observatory”

As locals will be quick to tell you, Upper Bid­well Park isn’t home to just day­time out­door attrac­tions. Just before Horse­shoe Lake sits the Chico Com­mu­ni­ty Obser­va­to­ry, a facil­i­ty that pro­vides the pub­lic with access to tele­scopes in order to gaze at the uni­verse in all its glory. 

The obser­va­to­ry is ded­i­cat­ed to pro­vid­ing access to the heav­ens through its tele­scopes to help edu­cate the community’s youth and let vis­i­tors of all ages enjoy the unfil­tered beau­ty of the uni­verse. Unfil­tered” is the key word here, because the Chico Com­mu­ni­ty Obser­va­to­ry relies on ide­al weath­er con­di­tions and clear skies in order to open its doors and show­case the galaxy. When it is able to offer its tele­scope to the mass­es, it offers a view unlike any oth­er in Chico.

In Jan­u­ary 2022, for instance, the Obser­va­to­ry was able to cap­ture an image of Aster­oid (7482) 1994 PC1, a rock the size of the Gold­en Gate Bridge that passed Earth from about 1.2 mil­lion miles away. Of course, you won’t always get the chance to check out a gigan­tic aster­oid hurtling through the uni­verse. Most trips to the Obser­va­to­ry do, how­ev­er, present the oppor­tu­ni­ty to view amaz­ing spec­ta­cles such as Jupiter, Sat­urn, our own moon, or even a col­lec­tion of bright, deep sky objects out there in the cosmos. 

The obser­va­to­ry is a free, non­prof­it facil­i­ty ded­i­cat­ed to the mem­o­ry of Ani­ta Ingrao. A doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er who was wide­ly regard­ed as the queen” of the Chico Com­mu­ni­ty Obser­va­to­ry, Ingrao vol­un­teered as one of the direc­tors of the obser­va­to­ry from its incep­tion in 2001 before pass­ing in 2014 after a bat­tle with stage‑4 brain can­cer. Ingrao was cred­it­ed with inspir­ing sev­er­al youth vol­un­teers to pur­sue PhDs in astron­o­my and physics, like­ly due to her pas­sion for explor­ing the night sky, and the obser­va­to­ry works to con­tin­ue her lega­cy on clear week­end nights (check for cur­rent open nights).

With the unpar­al­leled beau­ty and seren­i­ty of Upper Bid­well Park as its back­drop, the Obser­va­to­ry fea­tures a unique way to inter­act with nature — both Earth­ly and oth­er­world­ly — that you won’t be able to find any­where else in Butte County. 

Return to Top

T is for Tub­ing Down the Sacra­men­to River”

Whether it’s the high­ly antic­i­pat­ed Labor Day Float or just a stan­dard Sat­ur­day cruise, there’s no sum­mer sta­ple in Butte Coun­ty quite like tub­ing down the Sacra­men­to Riv­er. When tem­per­a­tures soar into the triple dig­its in Chico, going float­ing isn’t just one of the best ways to spend a few hours — it’s one of the few that’s actu­al­ly enjoy­able to do out­doors. Once you load up on sun­screen and pack a cool­er, you’re all but ready for one of this area’s most cher­ished after­noon pastimes.

The Sacra­men­to Riv­er is the largest in Cal­i­for­nia, and the sec­tion of it run­ning through Butte Coun­ty is home to hun­dreds of acres of pro­tect­ed ripar­i­an habi­tat. It’s a great get­away in its own right when it comes to fish­ing or wildlife watch­ing, but around these parts, it’s best known as the water­way locals uti­lize to hop in, cool off and let the cur­rent car­ry them.

As far as drop­ping in and get­ting out, there’s sev­er­al options that can extend or short­en your stay on the Sacra­men­to Riv­er. The clas­sic route for most tubers is to launch at the Irvine Finch Riv­er Access area, found on the west side of the High­way 32 bridge after leav­ing Chico. From here, you’ll be able to enjoy a 3‑mile float down­stream (rough­ly 1 – 2 hours) that gen­tly guides towards the Pine Creek area and Scotty’s Land­ing, Butte County’s well-known river­side restau­rant. If you don’t want your float to end quite as quick­ly, make a pit stop at the apt­ly named Beer Can Beach just before reach­ing Scotty’s.

Alter­na­tive­ly, you can extend your trip by con­tin­u­ing down the riv­er an addi­tion­al three miles to the Big Chico Creek area and Wash-Out” Beach. Or, if you’re feel­ing extra adven­tur­ous, you can start your float at Wood­son Bridge State Recre­ation area, a whop­ping 19 riv­er miles north of Irvine Finch. It makes for a sig­nif­i­cant­ly longer tub­ing excur­sion, but it does fea­ture gor­geous snap­shots of the Sacra­men­to Riv­er Nation­al Wildlife Refuge sys­tem com­plete with a mas­sive diver­si­ty of birds and mammals. 

How­ev­er you choose to float this sum­mer, have fun, be safe, and be sure to take in the pic­turesque scenery that sur­rounds you as you effort­less­ly trav­el down the river. 

U is for Upper Bid­well Park”

For out­door enthu­si­asts in Butte Coun­ty, Upper Bid­well Park is basi­cal­ly Dis­ney­land. If you’ve nev­er ven­tured past Man­zani­ta Avenue, you might think that’s an exag­ger­a­tion. But if you have, you know that com­par­i­son bare­ly scratch­es the sur­face of how tru­ly awe-inspir­ing Upper Park is.

Upper Bid­well Park is based in the foothills of the Sier­ra Neva­da moun­tains, fea­tur­ing steep ter­rain, daz­zling rock for­ma­tions, and trails for all skill lev­els of hik­ers and moun­tain bik­ers alike. It’s also home to an abun­dance of wildlife, rang­ing from the occa­sion­al deer sight­ing to bird­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties that include spar­rows, phain­ope­pla, great horned owls, Gold­en eagles, and more.

The park’s most redeem­ing qual­i­ty is its diverse offer­ing of activ­i­ties that cater to a wide range of inter­ests. If you’re up for a casu­al, shad­ed hike with plen­ty of access to water, Yahi Trail is a per­fect route as it runs through the park along Big Chico Creek. Eager to test your lim­its on a moun­tain bike? Make the gru­el­ing climb up the North Rim Trail, reward­ed by spec­tac­u­lar views and the chance to ride the best down­hill in the park (that’s B Trail). Once you’ve switch­backed your way down, hop on Mid­dle Trail to com­plete the heart-pump­ing loop. Or, if your legs are up for it, cross the creek and explore the excit­ing sin­gle­track found on both the Annie Bid­well Trail or the South Rim Trail.

Of course, your expe­ri­ence in Upper Park doesn’t have to be near­ly that exhil­a­rat­ing. In the bru­tal heat of the Chico sum­mer, the park hosts some of the city’s best swim­ming spots, be it the ever-pop­u­lar Bear Hole or a more seclud­ed option fur­ther into the park. And a quick dri­ve up High­way 32 brings you to Pere­grine Point, an 18-hole, advanced disc golf course that mix­es the fun of the sport with the sheer beau­ty of the park. 

At the end of the day, Upper Bid­well Park tru­ly has some­thing for every­one. It’s Chico’s most poor­ly kept secret, hid­ing in plain sight for all who vis­it it to mar­vel in its scenery and enjoy as much (or as lit­tle) out­door adven­tur­ing as they desire. 

V is for Views of the World’s Small­est Moun­tain Range”

Did you know the North State is home to the world’s small­est moun­tain range?” Indeed, the Sut­ter Buttes — a small, cir­cu­lar com­plex of erod­ed vol­canic lava domes that sits just over an hour away from Chico — claim that (some­what debat­able) title. 

OK, let’s get a small con­fes­sion out of the way here. The Sut­ter Buttes are tech­ni­cal­ly not in Butte Coun­ty. In fact, they reside in neigh­bor­ing Sut­ter Coun­ty, just out­side of Yuba City, but they are a promi­nent view along Butte County’s sky­line. If you’re will­ing to work with a slight sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief and are open to explor­ing (just out­side) Butte Coun­ty, then the Sut­ter Buttes are a can’t‑miss spectacle. 

The Sut­ter Buttes are steeped in indige­nous his­to­ry, hav­ing been fea­tured promi­nent­ly in sto­ries and tra­di­tions of the Nise­nan, Maidu and Win­tun tribes. Each of these tribes vis­it­ed the Buttes reg­u­lar­ly to for­age for food and hunt. Addi­tion­al­ly, in the Maidu and Nise­nan reli­gions, the Sut­ter Buttes was the loca­tion where dying tribe mem­bers trav­eled to ascend to the afterlife. 

There’s plen­ty of oth­er his­to­ry to dive into regard­ing the Sut­ter Buttes (Span­ish explor­ers in the 1800s referred to them as los tres picos,” or three peaks). At present, the Buttes are 10 miles wide and cov­er 75 square miles, hav­ing been formed by vol­canic up-thrust more than a mil­lion years ago. The tallest of the Sut­ter Buttes’ three peaks stands at 2,132 feet above sea lev­el. That may not be much com­pared to oth­er well-known moun­tain ranges in the state, but that’s still plen­ty tall enough to be eas­i­ly view­able from many points in Butte County.

Cur­rent­ly, the Sut­ter Buttes reside on most­ly pri­vate prop­er­ty. Access to the range is avail­able in the spring and fall thanks to guid­ed tours with Mid­dle Moun­tain Inter­pre­tive Hikes . Plus, you can take a scenic 40-mile dri­ving or cycling tour that cir­cles around the entire­ty of the Sut­ter Buttes in a day. 

Are the Sut­ter Buttes tech­ni­cal­ly a Butte Coun­ty fea­ture? Well, no. But don’t let seman­tics ruin a good time.

Return to Top

W is for Wurl­itzer Pipe Organ at the Oroville State Theatre”

Imag­ine, for a moment, the era of the silent film. No spo­ken words, just a col­lec­tion of sub­ti­tles and black-and-white scenes. Like a his­tor­i­cal ver­sion of watch­ing Net­flix late at night with­out wak­ing up the rest of the house. 

Inter­est­ing­ly, these silent films weren’t always silent. At vaude­ville the­atres, much like Butte County’s own Oroville State The­atre, a Wurl­itzer the­atri­cal pipe organ would be used for every­thing from play­ing the film’s musi­cal score to pro­vid­ing dia­logue” for actors and deliv­er­ing a wide range of sound effects. Whether it was hors­es gal­lop­ing, dogs bark­ing, or the time­less pie con­nect­ing with a face, the Wurl­itzer was behind it all. The organ was reg­u­lar­ly used for live per­for­mances and oth­er the­atre-based spec­ta­cles, of course. But its ini­tial rise to star­dom stemmed from being the sound­track for the birth of cinema.

For­tu­nate­ly for folks in the area, the Oroville State The­atre is proud to have a piece of his­to­ry with­in its very walls. The organ was donat­ed to Oroville in 2011 by the Sier­ra Chap­ter of the Amer­i­can The­atre Organ Soci­ety. Lat­er, in 2017, the instal­la­tion and restora­tion of the organ began with the help of the State The­atre Arts Guild (STAGE) . This par­tic­u­lar organ has a core that orig­i­nal­ly belonged to Cecil B. De Mille, the famous Amer­i­can film pro­duc­er. Addi­tion­al ranks of pipes were added to com­plete the organ, with STAGE hav­ing to cut into the theatre’s back­stage wall to make room for the restora­tion. In all, the restora­tion was a three-year process that fin­ished in late 2020.

In July 2021, the com­plete­ly restored Wurl­itzer The­atre Organ got its debut at the Oroville State The­atre. Renowned organ­ist Walt Strony was at the helm of the 1,100-pipe organ for a pair of con­certs, fea­tur­ing patri­ot­ic ensem­bles as well as the Lau­rel and Hardy silent film Lib­er­ty.” The debut per­for­mance cement­ed the Oroville State The­atre as being among the few­er than 250 the­atres nation­wide that fea­tures a ful­ly oper­a­tional the­atre organ. So, if you’re a fan of the arts in Butte Coun­ty inter­est­ed in a unique the­ater-going expe­ri­ence, you won’t have to go far.

X is for Xtreme Tool Col­lec­tion at Bolt’s Antique Tool Museum”

Next time you’re enjoy­ing a day out in Oroville, con­sid­er head­ing over to Bolt’s Antique Tools Muse­um on Brod­er­ick Street. The unique muse­um cel­e­brates the tools that built civ­i­liza­tion. What’s more, the Smith­son­ian rec­og­nized Bolt’s muse­um as the largest known doc­u­ment­ed col­lec­tion of hand tools in the entire world.

Inside this his­to­ry-filled muse­um, you’re bound to find some­thing awe-inspir­ing. There are tool dis­plays with pieces thought to be the work of ancient Egyp­tians and the Roman Empire, pos­si­bly dat­ing back to 400 BC. There’s tools depict­ing the cre­ation of 51 dif­fer­ent rail­roads in the Unit­ed States, plus antique gas pumps, a cap­ti­vat­ing barbed wire col­lec­tion, and tons more. The muse­um has eight dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories span­ning its walls in all, fea­tur­ing some­thing to piqué the inter­est of even the most com­mon tool fan.

The muse­um is the child of Carl Bud” Bolt, whose fas­ci­na­tion with tools both old and new dates back to 1957 when he was a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Snap-On Tools. Bolt had orig­i­nal­ly planned on cap­ping his col­lec­tion at 1,000 pieces. Like any avid col­lec­tor, though, Bolt didn’t stop there. Today, the muse­um hous­es more than 13,000 tools that have been cat­a­loged, ref­er­enced, and thor­ough­ly researched. 

Bolt’s dream was to amass a col­lec­tion that could be stud­ied by tool enthu­si­asts, schol­ars and stu­dents alike. To that end, the muse­um offers group and class­room tours, an inter­ac­tive stu­dent dis­cov­ery pro­gram, and a lec­ture ser­vice that ranges from grade school to adulthood. 

In Bolt’s words, tools are the most impor­tant indus­try in the world as we know it. He regards tools as an inte­gral com­po­nent of human his­to­ry, ris­ing time and time again to meet the needs of human­i­ty in order to push tech­nol­o­gy — and soci­ety —fur­ther. With that in mind, Bolt set out to pre­serve tools of all ages as a liv­ing trib­ute to the role they have had in shap­ing the world we live in today — and succeeded.

Y is for Yo-Yos Galore at the Nation­al Yo-Yo Museum”

It’s hard to say this about an insti­tute that’s been in busi­ness since 1993, but the Nation­al Yo-Yo Muse­um is a Butte Coun­ty icon hid­ing in plain sight at its loca­tion in the back of Bird in Hand in Down­town Chico. There, muse­um founder Bob Mal­owney sells yo-yos, edu­cates vis­i­tors about yo-yo cul­ture, and leads a col­lec­tion of local and nation­al contests.

The yo-yo muse­um is kind of a giv­en here in town. Peo­ple know we’re here, and go, That’s neat,’” Mal­owney said. But when we go some­where else, Chico is a big deal. It’s like Coop­er­stown for base­ball, or Can­ton for foot­ball. All you need is some­body who has a pas­sion about some­thing to do some­thing about it.”

Inter­est­ing­ly enough, yo-yos hadn’t yet become a nation­al craze at the time of the museum’s open­ing in 1993. It wasn’t until the final years of the 20th cen­tu­ry that yo-yo pop­u­lar­i­ty began to sky­rock­et in Amer­i­ca. Yo-yos are believed to date back to ancient Greece and pos­si­bly even 1,000 BC Chi­na, and Malowney’s muse­um aims to show­case its entire his­to­ry. The muse­um relies on dona­tions to fea­ture old mod­els and styles, but also reg­u­lar­ly holds Sat­ur­day con­tests and free lessons to teach vis­i­tors about the icon­ic toy. Yo-yos can be pur­chased in the toy shop, but the muse­um is com­plete­ly free to visit.

In one sense, Mal­owney likens the Nation­al Yo-Yo Muse­um to all muse­ums as a space that tries to pre­serve some­thing that not every­one was able to expe­ri­ence. At the same time, it’s still very much a liv­ing, breath­ing enti­ty. The muse­um over­sees the Nation­al Yo-Yo League, with Malowney’s team pre­sid­ing over every offi­cial con­test from across the Unit­ed States.

You wouldn’t guess it, but Chico, CA is the cap­i­tal of the yo-yo, large­ly because of Mal­owney and the Nation­al Yo-Yo Museum’s impact on the phe­nom­e­non. Accord­ing to Mal­owney, the aver­age Chico res­i­dent dis­plays not just an inter­est, but often­times an exquis­ite knowl­edge about the world of yo-yos.

There’s just some­thing about it,” Mal­owney said. The world is spin­ning, and this is spin­ning, so it all feels like it just works together.”

Z is for Zig­ging and Zag­ging Across Indoor and Out­door Rock Climb­ing Routes”

Butte Coun­ty is well known — at least by its res­i­dents — as a North­ern Cal­i­for­nia mec­ca for out­door sports. Hik­ing, run­ning, cycling — all over the coun­ty, the oppor­tu­ni­ties are end­less and over­whelm­ing­ly fantastic.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and add rock climb­ing to that grow­ing list of adren­a­line-filled activ­i­ties in the area. Out in Chico’s Upper Bid­well Park, the canyon walls on both sides of Big Chico Creek are lined with basalt and reach up to 150 feet tall in some spots. The park doesn’t allow per­ma­nent gear, but it does serve as a great place to climb and hone your skills.

Speak­ing of hon­ing your skills, the Ter­rain Park Climb­ing Cen­ter (TPCC) resides in Chico as a space com­mit­ted to com­mu­ni­ty and shar­ing the climb­ing cul­ture. The staff at TPCC believe that any­one can improve both their lifestyle and state of mind through the avenues of climb­ing, slack­line, fit­ness and per­son­al rela­tion­ships with like-mind­ed indi­vid­u­als.” Both mem­ber­ships and drop-in rates are avail­able at the TPCC, with activ­i­ties at the climb­ing cen­ter includ­ing: sum­mer camps, birth­day par­ties, study rooms, ping pong, and oth­er com­mu­ni­ty events.

If you’re an avid climber that’s moti­vat­ed to get mobile, Butte Coun­ty also has a gen­er­ous hand­ful of climb­ing des­ti­na­tions that are just a day trip away. Past Oroville in the Plumas Nation­al For­est, both Bald Rock Dome and Griz­zly Dome are par­adise for local climbers. And if you’re up for a few hours of dri­ving, spots like Pigeon Cliff, The Mill, or the Leav­itt Train­ing Area are espe­cial­ly excit­ing spots to test your climb­ing skills before mosey­ing on back to Butte Coun­ty for night on the town to cel­e­brate a suc­cess­ful day on the rocks. 

When you do head out to grab some gran­ite, make sure to fol­low all the nec­es­sary safe­ty pre­cau­tions to ensure your day of climb­ing is fun and exhil­a­rat­ing, but stops short of dan­ger­ous. And, while you’re out in the ele­ments, be sure to take a moment to soak in all of the nat­ur­al beau­ty that has long been one of Butte County’s call­ing cards.

Return to Top

A‑Z: Attrac­tions Reels