North Through California – Route 89


All along, I knew that Day 6 would be one of the least exciting days of my trip.  It was unavoidable: I had a long distance to cover, with not a lot to see along the way.  I started in Reno, and hoped to get to Medford, Oregon by the end of the day.  That meant covering about 350 miles–a long trip, even on the Interstate.  But there were no freeways going my way, just a lot of mountains and 2-lane roads.

I had originally planned to take US 395 north from Reno.  But, I relied on my memory, instead of looking at the map, and ended up at the California state line before realizing that I was way off track.  So, I kept driving west on I-80 (almost to Truckee) and turned onto CA Rte. 89.  Along the way, Rte. 89 joins and splits from several other routes, but 89 is the only one you need, all the way to Lassen Volcanic National Park and beyond.

Route 89 passes through some beautiful farmland, rolling hills, and serious mountains on its journey north.  I could have stopped more, if I had some time to waste.

There were plenty of photo opportunities along this road, but unfortunately, the weather had turned on me once again.  For the first couple of hours, it was merely cloudy, but it got much, much worse later on.

Route 89 goes through several small–I should say very small–towns, over a bunch of hills…

and for a while, follows along the Feather River (at which point, it’s part of the Feather River Scenic Byway), then leaves the Feather to follow along Indian Creek.  The confluence of the two is what you see in the picture above–a spot that I’m sure would be much more impressive on a less cloudy day.

A little further up the road, you pass Canyon Dam, which holds back the waters of Lake Almanor.  That water is nice and clear, and would be a brilliant blue, I’d bet, if only the sky had been clear.  Instead, the weather was deteriorating quickly, and the howling wind that raced off the lake nearly cut through me.

At this point, the road is part of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, and with good reason: we’ve almost reached Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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