President Teddy Roosevelt once described Burney Falls in California as the "eighth wonder of the world," and it's no less spectacular now than it was in the early 20th century.
People are quick to point out that Burney Falls isn't California's highest waterfall or its largest, but they miss the point. Not only is Burney Falls ridiculously easy to get to, but also it's a mesmerizing sight that provokes even seasoned photographers to gush uncontrollably about its beauty.
That could be because 100 million gallons of water pour over the 129-foot cliff every day, joining spring-fed streams pouring out of openings in the cliff face. It all drops into a deep, blue pool, breaking up on the mossy rocks into multiple, rainbow-filled streams.
How to Get There
The park is about 45 miles northeast of Redding and six miles north of California Highway 299 on Highway 89 near the town of Burney.
Things to Do
You can get a great view of the falls from the parking lot, and a short, easy hike takes you to the base.
Hiking: The hike to the falls is something everyone wants to do at McArthur-Burney State Park. The trip to the bottom is more like a walk than a hike, equal to going down a few flights of stairs. From the parking lot, it takes about five to 10 minutes. After that, the Falls Loop Trail takes another 15 to 20 minutes.
Fishing: You can catch rainbow, brown, and brook trout in Burney Creek. In nearby Lake Britton, you'll also find bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, carp, squawfish, sunfish, and perch. The fishing season opens on the last Saturday in April and closes in mid-November. Everyone who is 16 years and older must have a fishing license.
Boating: You can rent small motorboats, rowboats, and paddleboats at the marina. If you want to take your own boat, rent a slip ahead of time so you don't have to haul it in and out the water every day.
McArthur-Burney State Park has more than 100 developed campsites that can accommodate trailers and motorhomes up to 32 feet long. It also has an RV dump station.
Reservations at this park—and for that matter at any California state park—are ridiculously complicated, so make sure you know what to do when making reservations at California state parks.
Besides the campsites, the park has 24 one- and two-room cabins with propane heaters, beds, and mattresses but no electricity or plumbing. Bring sleeping bags and battery-powered lanterns. Restrooms with flush toilets are nearby. Dogs are allowed as long as you provide a monetary deposit, but they have to be kept on a leash.
Visitors say the campground is well kept and clean. The park store stocks groceries and souvenirs.
Things to Know
The park is open sunrise to sunset all year long. On a sunny summer day, rainbows shimmer in the mist. In the fall, the color of autumn leaves reflects in the water. On a cold winter day, tiny icicles may decorate the cliffs.
Summer and spring are warm; fall and winter can be cool. The park gets super busy from April through October. On holidays and all summer weekends, it can get so packed that they close the entrance. If that happens, try returning after 4 p.m. when others go home. Visit off-season or mid-week and you'll have more of the place to yourself.