Multiple Cities Getaway Artist Outdoor Adventurer

Butte County Through the Seasons

Butte County’s wide-open spaces are full of nat­ur­al splen­dors, and the out­door spec­ta­cle is ampli­fied in new ways every season.


More Than a Fling

Butte Coun­ty has no short­age of nat­ur­al beau­ty through­out the year, but the land­scape absolute­ly comes alive in the spring. Plants and wildlife run abun­dant and vibrant, refreshed by the win­ter rains, and this includes the wild­flower blooms the area is so well known for.

Some of the best — and least crowd­ed — wild­flower view­ing can be had in Upper Bid­well Park. While a vari­ety can be found through­out Upper Bid­well Park gen­er­al­ly, the canyon area around Big Chico Creek is espe­cial­ly note­wor­thy, with dif­fer­ent blooms all through the sea­son. North Rim and South Rim in par­tic­u­lar show­case great views of the vibrant spring hues.

Head­ing south, the ever-pop­u­lar North Table Moun­tain Eco­log­i­cal Reserve is the go-to spot for spring wild­flower blooms, but there’s more to be found out­side of the famed reserve. The Lake Oroville State Recre­ation Area fea­tures sev­er­al unex­pect­ed loca­tions to spot wild­flow­ers. Rat­tlesnake Hill at the North Ther­mal­i­to Fore­bay is an easy paved path that comes to life with under-the-radar blooms, while sev­er­al trails up in the foothills show­case both spring lilies — which thrive in the cool­er tem­per­a­tures and shad­ed areas around the lake — as well as car­pets of pur­ple and gold in the sun­nier stretches. 

What do you do when it starts to heat up in the Sacra­men­to Val­ley but you still want more wild­flow­ers? Head up into Butte County’s foothill region! Par­adise Lake keeps the bloom sea­son going into May and June with for­est favorites like lupine, bleed­ing heart, and flow­er­ing dog­wood trees.

As a bonus, in ear­ly spring (we might even say late win­ter), you can also expe­ri­ence the beau­ty of California’s almond blos­soms for a cou­ple weeks, usu­al­ly start­ing mid-to-late Feb­ru­ary. Togeth­er with Butte County’s incred­i­ble wealth of wild­flow­ers, this is a won­der­ful time to come and expe­ri­ence the best of North­ern California’s nat­ur­al beauty.


Time to Beat the Heat

When sum­mer is at its hottest, Butte Coun­ty offers some of the best out­door adven­tures for stay­ing cool. Qui­et, shad­ed walks around Lake Oroville are com­ple­ment­ed by fun on the water itself — whether at the lake or on the near­by Sacra­men­to Riv­er—from water­ski­ing, jet­ski­ing, and tub­ing, to boat­ing and fish­ing. The Fore­bay Aquat­ic Cen­ter also offers its own sum­mer thrills, with kayaks, ped­al boats, and even stand-up pad­dle­boards for rent. And if a day of fun on the water isn’t enough, you can also have a one-of-a-kind expe­ri­ence sleep­ing under the stars on a float­ing camp­site lit­er­al­ly on Lake Oroville — some­thing you can’t do any­where else in California.

But camp­ing on the water is far from the only way to cool off. When things are at their most swel­ter­ing, Butte Coun­ty has plen­ty of high­er-ele­va­tion retreats for relief from the heat. Par­adise Lake fea­tures a shady, flat trail, per­fect for sum­mer hik­ing. Butte Mead­ows is a per­fect loca­tion in the Sier­ra Neva­da, with lakes and streams, bik­ing trails from the Col­by Moun­tain Look­out Area, and a vari­ety of hik­ing paths as well. The Jonesville Canyon Trail, which pass­es near the head­wa­ters of Butte Creek, also offers a won­der­ful reprieve from the weath­er with an easy 3.8‑mile, out-and-back hike that’s per­fect for sum­mer. And for a cool­er evening, the Chico Com­mu­ni­ty Obser­va­to­ry lets you expe­ri­ence the beau­ty of the night sky for free and away from the rays of the sun.

Sum­mer also fea­tures sev­er­al beloved events, start­ing with Sil­ver Dol­lar Fair over Memo­r­i­al Day week­end; a myr­i­ad of Fourth of July cel­e­bra­tions, includ­ing the Oroville fire­works show; fresh farm­ers mar­kets with an abun­dance of local pro­duce to sat­is­fy your crav­ings; and the Butte Coun­ty Fair in August to end the season.


Butte Coun­ty Colors

As sum­mer begins to wane, Butte Coun­ty expe­ri­ences some of its most per­fect tem­per­a­tures, mak­ing it one of the best times of year to get out­side. There are many local events unique to fall. Chico’s annu­al Tweed Ride hap­pens every Novem­ber, when folks dress up in vin­tage attire for a casu­al bike ride through Low­er Bid­well Park. There are many Hal­loween events too, includ­ing Treat Street in Down­town Chico, where kids trick-or-treat at local busi­ness­es in a safe and super­vised envi­ron­ment. You can also head up to Par­adise for John­ny Apple­seed Days , a cel­e­bra­tion of all things apple — and a tra­di­tion that goes back to the har­vest of 1888, with face paint­ing, games, and plen­ty of apple pie.

Fall also serves up a boun­ty of deli­cious pro­duce that you can find at local farm­ers mar­kets. And if you’re look­ing to take home some fall or Hal­loween dec­o­ra­tions, there’s no bet­ter place to pick the per­fect pump­kin than at one of the many pump­kin patch­es that pop up all around the coun­ty as the sea­son gets into full swing.

But even with all these great rea­sons to vis­it, there’s per­haps none more com­pelling than the promise of spec­tac­u­lar fall foliage. Between mid-Octo­ber and mid-Novem­ber, Upper and Low­er Bid­well Park come alive as leaves turn to bril­liant col­ors of orange, red, and yel­low. Oth­er prime spots for fall foliage include the Chico Seed Orchard, the Chico State Cam­pus, Down­town Oroville, Par­adise Ridge, and many more spots through­out the county.


An Under-the-Radar Win­ter Wonder

Butte Coun­ty may some­times get over­shad­owed by oth­er win­ter des­ti­na­tions in Cal­i­for­nia, but it’s packed with cold-weath­er fun.

Butte Mead­ows was once a sum­mer resort get­away, but today, its loca­tion in the snow-cov­ered Lassen Nation­al For­est makes it a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for win­ter daytrips, includ­ing a stop at The Bam­bi Inn, a local favorite for drinks with friends. Jonesville also lies near­by, boast­ing hands down the most robust win­ter recre­ation­al oppor­tu­ni­ties in Butte Coun­ty, from cross-coun­try ski­ing in Col­by Mead­ows to snow­mo­bil­ing through 60 miles of groomed trails at the Jonesville Snow­mo­bile Park. The Col­by Moun­tain Look­out Area, which pro­vides great hik­ing and moun­tain bik­ing in the sum­mer­time, becomes per­fect for cross-coun­try ski­ing and snow­shoe­ing in a pic­turesque val­ley, which runs par­al­lel to Col­by Creek.

At low­er ele­va­tions, the North State’s rainy sea­son brings sea­son­al water­falls to nor­mal­ly dor­mant spots across the coun­ty, like Bid­well Park and the North Table Moun­tain Eco­log­i­cal Reserve. These places beau­ti­ful­ly com­ple­ment many of Butte County’s scenic win­ter hikes. Wildlife enjoy the sea­son as well, and bird­ers will find them­selves espe­cial­ly well occu­pied since Butte County’s loca­tion along the Pacif­ic Fly­way is home to many species of migra­to­ry birds each fall and win­ter at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. Upper Bid­well Park has its own robust avian pop­u­la­tion, with more than 100 bird species call­ing it home. There are even around 200 species at the Chico Seed Orchard, an ide­al place for those who need an easy and acces­si­ble place to do their birdwatching.