There are plenty of opportunities for Family Fun in Butte county. Indoors and outdoors quiet things and athletic things. You’ll find more to do here than you can find time to do them all. We’ll help you explore some of them in each community and these will be things that the entire family can have a fun learning experience doing. Lets get started.
Let’s begin our morning with a one-mile drive across Oroville Dam. Follow Oro Dam Blvd. East to where it connects with Orange Avenue and joins the Green Line Tour. (Look for the green line in the middle of the road.) Stay on the Green Line until you reach the dam. Completed in 1968, it stands 770 feet high and is 6,920 feet across the top. It is the tallest and one of the largest earthen dams in the USA. Tailings from the gold dredging era make up most of the material used in construction.
A picnic area overlooks the dam & has restroom facilities. The dam area is also a favorite of local swimmers.
Beneath the dam, a cavern almost as large as the state capitol building has been hollowed out to house six power generation units. Coupled with four units in the Thermalito Power Plant, they generate more than 2.8 billion kilowatt-hours of power annually.
Lake Oroville, which the dam created, has a surface area of 24 square miles and a shoreline of 167 miles, including many waterfalls in the Spring. Info: 530-534-2306
Lake Oroville Visitor CenterAfter our drive across the dam we will continue on the Green Line the the Lake Oroville Visitors Center at the North End of Kelly Ridge Road.This is a great source for just about any kind of information you want about the area. The center, a joint venture between California’s Dept. of Parks & Recreation and the Dept. of Water Resources, has exhibitions which cover the history of the California water projects from the early Spanish-built dams to the dams of today, Maidu Indian culture, and local wildlife.More than forty videos are available for viewing upon request. Brochures on all area attractions are available as well as maps of hiking and horse trails.Be sure to climb the 47-foot high viewing tower for spectacular views of the lake, mountains, and valley. The Center’s hours are: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 7 days a week. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s DayInfo: 530-538-2219
When we leave the Visitors Center we’ll be heading for Lakeview Restaurant less than a mile away at 5131 Royal Oaks Drive located in the Lake Oroville Golf and Event Center.
Following lunch we’ll head back to the valley again following the Green Line west to the Feather River Fish Hatchery & Nature Center located Off Table Mountain Blvd. at Feather River Crossing. When you come to the round about to your immediate right is the road to the Feather River Nature Center, making a normal right takes you across the bridge to the Fish Hacthery. When Oroville Dam was built, several miles of spawning grounds were no longer available to salmon and steelhead trout returning to their home stream to spawn. To compensate for this loss, the Dept. of Fish & Game and Dept. of Water Resources opened this state-of-the art facility.
The hatchery can accommodate 9,000 adult salmon and 2,000 adult steelhead. The incubators can hold 20 million eggs, and 9.6 million fingerlings can be reared in the eight concrete raceways. During their Fall-run (heaviest in September-November, but extending into February) the fish can be seen, through windows built into the wall, jumping the ladder-like steps leading to the gathering tanks, providing an aquarium-like view. Visiting Hours: 8 a.m. to Sundown. Fish ladder opens the day after Labor Day. Tours: 530-534-2306
If you’ve never witnessed this life cycle, try to find time to watch nature in spectacular action at this official California Watchable Wildlife site.
Built of stone and sitting beside the river just across from the hatchery on Old Ferry Road, the 1930’s WPA bath house has been restored and converted into a Nature Center. Beautifully constructed from nature’s gifts, it’s our favorite structure in the county and a wonderful place to commune with nature during any season of the year. Picnic tables are provided along with the nature!
Next we’ll head to Riverbend Park located at the west end of Montgomery Street., by coming back to the roundabout and heading west on Montgomery Steet and you’ll drive right into the park.Several open-air pavilions are found throughout the park and are available for picnicking or nature viewing. The water play area is very popular with kids. Later additions to the park will include an Aquatic Park with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, waterslides, an exercise pool and a diving pool.A great family pastime, because it’s free and all ages can play, is a round of disc golf at the Riverbend Disc Golf Course. The course was designed by Ed Hedrick, the father of disc golf, and was a project of Sunrise Rotary Club. Discs can be purchased at the Feather River Recreation & Park District office at 1875 Feather River Blvd.
If you haven’t already decided on a picnic take the family to Tong Fong Low in downtown Oroville just two blocks off Montgomery St. at 2051 Robinson St. (530) 533-9332. “Charlie’s” as it’s known locally has been serviong lunch and dinner in Oroville for over 100 years!