Welcome to the audio-described version of Whiskeytown's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Whiskeytown visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 30 minutes which we have divided into 11 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 1 through 8 cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding primary park attractions titled Sparkling Water, the Treasures of Whiskeytown, Enjoy Your Park, the Wintu, Gold Rush and Early Settlers, Tower House Hotel, the Central Valley Project, and A World Class Watershed. Sections 9 through 11 cover the back of the brochure which consists of detailed information on various suggestions for Exploring Whiskeytown, as well as Accessibility, and More Information.
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, located in northern California, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. The 42,000 acre park is situated eight miles west of Redding at the northern edge of the Sacramento river valley, in the foothills of the Klamath Mountains. This park, was established in 1965 as part of the Central Valley project. Whiskeytown Lake provides a dependable water supply, flood control, hydroelectric power, and numerous recreational opportunities. Each year, approximately 800 thousand visitors come to enjoy the unique experiences that only can be had at Whiskeytown. We invite you to explore the park's natural beauty, majestic views, and abundant wildlife. Hike to one of four major waterfalls, swim at one of Whiskeytown's sandy beaches, explore a cove via kayak, or hike along a historic water ditch trail to learn about Gold Rush history. For those seeking to learn more about the park during their visit, a diversity of interpretive materials can be found at the visitor center. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.
The front of the brochure includes photos and illustrations. Photos are all color, with the exception of one historic black and white photo. The text explains the natural and cultural attractions featured at the park, including a brief description of its topography and habitats, an overview of human presence spanning thousands of years, and a summary of recreational activities possible at the park, including both water-based, and land-based activities.
Sparkling water. Cool forests. Wildlife. Gold! For many years these treasures enticed people to the area. In 1965, to preserve this place of beauty, Congress authorized 42,000 acres as Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Stop for a minute and look around. Are the treasures still here? We invite you to explore—discover your own treasures at Whiskeytown.
View from South Fork Mountain
National Park Service /MATTHEW SWITZER
This sweeping panoramic view of Whiskeytown Lake taken at sunrise from South Fork Mountain in the northeast corner of the park shows the lake’s irregular, convoluted shoreline, Whiskey Creek bridge, spanning the broad Whiskey Creek inlet, and numerous small islands. Shasta Bally, the park’s highest peak at 6,199 feet (1889 meters), rises steeply from the lake’s southern shore, its steep ridges heavily draped in deep green vegetation. The upper reaches of the peak are bathed in oblique yellow light. Low clouds in contrasting shades of peach and gray are illuminated behind the peak.
Whiskeytown Lake is nestled among the hills and valleys of the Klamath Mountains in northern California. Geologic forces created steep and rugged terrain. Heavy winter rains, long dry summers, and frequent wildfires create diverse habitats, from old-growth forests to oak woodlands and chaparral. Over 1,100 plant and animal species live here, many with colorful names like gray pine and blue oak, black bear and rainbow trout, purple finch and yellow warbler.
Native Americans found their own treasures here—acorns, fish, deer, and other plants and animals—that sustained their way of life for thousands of years. The discovery of gold nearby in 1848, only months after it was found farther south at Sutter’s Mill, brought fortune hunters known as ’49ers. Today we value this area’s water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and the power-generating facilities of the Central Valley Project.
President John F. Kennedy dedicated Whiskeytown Dam in 1963, noting that when “we set aside recreational areas, we can be sure they will be used.” But, he asked, “What kind of a country will [future Americans] find? How much recreation will be possible for them? I think if we make the right decisions now, they will be grateful to us . . . .” Why not join in? Help us preserve Whiskeytown for you and for future generations.
Family playing at Brandy Creek.
© BEN KLAFFKE
Four young children, all viewed from behind, play near their mother along the shore of Whiskeytown Lake. The mother’s shoes are off, and she is seated on a towel watching her children play in the sand and shallow water. The children are all in swimsuits, and their mother is wearing a striped shirt and dark shorts. One child is sitting on a float in the shallow water. A fifth child is further out in the deeper water, clinging to the neck of a man standing waist deep in the lake. The water is clear and deep blue. The shoreline in the background is heavily vegetated with dark green trees. Forested mountains rise steeply from the far shore.
Exciting ride on Shasta Bally.
© MAX H. WALTER
A young man wearing tan shorts, a gray long sleeved jersey, white helmet, sunglasses, and cycling gloves looks up as he rides his mountain bike along a narrow park trail. He is working his way up the dirt trail, entering a curve. Behind him can be seen a mixed forest of manzanita, Douglas fir, and oak. Brown leaves on the ground and dry pale grasses suggest this is a fall ride.
Black bears can climb trees!
National Park Service / RUSS WEATHERBEE
American black bear (Ursus americanus). This is a very large, shaggy black bear, rich brown in color with blond highlights and a long, tan muzzle. Its large ears are erect, and point out from its head. It appears to be looking slightly away from the camera at eye level, and is holding fast to the trunk of a tree. The bear’s paws and legs are massive and powerful looking. The tree has rough, deeply grooved bark, and is of large circumference. Though the bear’s front legs stretch wide, they cannot encircle the trunk. The canopy of a smaller tree can be seen just beneath the bear’s rump.
Hike to Boulder Creek Falls.
National Park Service / TERRY NELSON
This close up of Boulder Creek Falls shows water cascading over multiple short rock terraces. The steep banks on either side are thickly carpeted in green moss and low plants. Small tree branches extend and partially span the narrow run of the creek at varying angles. Delicate, yellow-green leaves on these branches contrast with a deeper green backdrop, making the scene reminiscent of a Japanese ink brush painting.
Most people come to Whiskeytown for the reservoir’s cool water. You can also visit historic water ditches and the Camden House from the Gold Rush era. You can walk to waterfalls, stroll through old-growth forests, and hike or drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle to the summit of Shasta Bally. Explore your park—its lake, historic areas, and mountain landscape.
Whiskeytown Lake features a 36-mile shoreline and a surface area of 3,200 acres. The reservoir remains full in summer and provides exceptional water recreation in a beautiful mountain setting.
Enjoying the lake breezes.
© SCOTT DAROUGH
Nine small sailboats at varying distances from the camera dot the riffled lake surface of Whiskeytown Lake. Wind fills their brightly colored sails. Wake lines visible behind the small sailboats give further impression of speed as they skim the lake’s surface. The topography on the far shore rises steeply in the distance to a mountain ridge. A thick covering of trees provides a dark, unbroken backdrop from shore to sky. Low, thin clouds gather just above the ridgeline.
Boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, sailing, scuba diving, swimming, wading, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, and windsurfing.
About 39,000 acres surround the lake. Mountain trails through shaded corridors and year-round creeks offer a break from summer heat.
Birding, camping, hiking, gold panning, horseback riding, mountain biking, nature study, photography, picnicking, sightseeing, and wildlife viewing.
For centuries Wintu Indians enjoyed a prosperous life here. They gathered acorns, hunted elk and deer, and fished for trout and salmon. Skilled at crafts, Wintu fashioned tools from obsidian and wove baskets so tightly they could cook liquids in them. Although the Gold Rush era nearly destroyed the Wintu, their heritage lives today.
Wintu elders share traditions with their children.
© GATEWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Two adults and six children form a circle around a young girl of about twelve years. They are all smiling. One of the girls appears to be covering her face in laughter. The children and adults are wearing shorts and T-shirts. The smallest child sports a backwards ballcap, her long black hair spilling from behind its white brim. The group is standing along a creek, intermittently bordered by small trees. The bright green leaves suggest early summer in the California foothills.
For most ’49ers the big strike was always in the next shovelful. Those who succeeded with hard work and luck were were exceptions.
Panning for gold is popular here. Try it!
© DARWIN DAROUGH
A park ranger demonstrates gold panning to a group of about 15 children. He is wearing a flat-brimmed hat, green pants, and a gray uniform shirt with the distinctive National Park Service arrowhead shoulder patch. He is kneeling at water’s edge, on the bank of a wide creek. Though the water is calm behind him, just upstream whitewater can be seen. Trees along the bank cast deep shadows across the clear, blue-green water. In his hands the ranger holds a shallow metal pan tipped towards the group. The face of each observer is intently focused on the demonstration being provided.
Charles Camden and Levi Tower became friends and partners in San Francisco in spring 1850. They sailed in search of the Trinity River’s mouth, then traveled overland to Whiskeytown’s northern diggings. Camden built a one-room cabin and a mining operation, sawmill, and water ditches. Later he erected toll roads and bridges. Around the cabin, he built a much larger home, Camden House. It is the park’s only surviving structure from the Gold Rush, and a place for visitors to learn more about this era.
Tower made his living by providing food and shelter to miners. He invested his profits in the 21-room Tower House luxury hotel, gardens, and orchards. The hotel burned in 1920.
Tower House Hotel as it appeared in 1912.
SHASTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
This black and white photo is partially blurred at its top margin. Filling the frame is an image of the historic Tower House Hotel as it appeared in 1912. It is a large, white, three story wooden structure. Full porches encircle the first and second stories. Spindled railings fully encircle the porch at the second story level. Large painted letters on the front of the hotel at the third story level beneath a peaked roof spell, “TOWER HOUSE”. About a dozen people cluster at one corner in front of tall windows at street level. The women are dressed in long skirts and long-sleeved blouses. The men and boys are dressed in suits and hats. A young boy has his hands in his pockets. Behind the hotel dense vegetation can be seen reaching all the way up to the third story roof line. The road on which the hotel sits appears dusty and light in color.
In 1935 construction began on the Central Valley Project, which was built to move water from northern California to drier areas farther south. At Whiskeytown engineers blasted a 10½-mile-long, 17½-foot-diameter tunnel through solid granite to divert water from the Trinity to the Sacramento river system. The resulting lake brought many benefits like recreational opportunities, flood control, hydroelectric power, and a dependable water supply.
The overflow spillway is about 24 feet wide.
© KIM GERBE AND STONEY JAMES
This photograph shows a feature called the Glory Hole located on Whiskeytown Lake just above Whiskeytown Dam. Water spills smoothly over the lip of a 24 foot circular concrete structure submerged just beneath the lake’s surface creating a donut-like sinkhole. There is a tan concrete cylinder visible extending from the center of the circular spillway. The lake surface is mirror-like, reflecting the puffy, white clouds above, as well as the dark green conifers growing thickly right up to the shoreline. In the further distance, shadowed peaks and thick clouds fill the sky.
When a watershed is healthy, the ground is like a sponge. It absorbs winter’s heavy rains. Spring-fed creeks cascade into rivers and lakes. Only occasional heavy storms cause mudslides or sediment runoff.
But at Whiskeytown, all is not well. Past logging and mining damaged the watershed, reduced vegetation, altered drainage courses, and eroded soils. Mudslides and torrential rains occur more often, dumping sediment into the waterways. As water quality declines, so does fish habitat.
Can nature fix itself? Maybe, if we can wait decades or centuries. But can we wait? We need clean water now. The National Park Service places a high priority on restoring these watersheds to meet the needs of Whiskeytown’s people, plants, fish, and other wildlife.
Largemouth bass (left) and rainbow trout (right) flourish here.
ILLUSTRATION National Park Service / DAN FEASER
Two colorful, lifelike illustrations depict fish common to Whiskeytown Lake. Drawn in profile with their heads pointing to the left, the Largemouth bass is larger and heavier looking than the rainbow trout beneath it. The Largemouth bass has a large, down-turned mouth, a brown eye, and prominent dorsal and pectoral fins. It is a muddy greenish color, darkest along the spine, and almost white along the belly. There are dark diamond shapes running longitudinally along the middle of the body from gills to tail. The rainbow trout has a brown back, white belly, and bands of orange and salmon-pink along the middle of the body. Its fins and tail are dark brown and gray, and there are many black spots speckling the entire body.:
Side two of the brochure is comprised of two maps and text. A small map at the top places the park in a regional context, showing major road access, as well as adjacent national forests. The large primary park map details boating regulations, roads, trails, ranger stations, campgrounds, picnic areas, boat launches, telephones, wheelchair access, and sanitary disposal stations.The text provides many descriptive details about specific recreational activities, information on fees and passes, regulations and safety, accessibility, and park contact information.
The following information applies only to the Whiskeytown unit of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area.
Open daily, the visitor center offers information, maps, publications, a bookstore, and exhibits.
National Park Service
Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area. This map places the National Park Service managed “Whiskeytown Unit” in its regional context. Whiskeytown sits eight miles west of Redding, CA. It is accessed from the town of Redding via state routes 44W through Redding, which turns into 299W outside of town as it continues west towards Eureka, CA. The visitor center is located just off state highway 299, at the intersection of 299 and John F. Kennedy Memorial Drive. Two additional parcels of public lands are shown adjacent to Whiskeytown -- to the NE, the “Shasta Unit”, and to the NW, the “Trinity Unit”. Both of these parcels are managed by the US Forest Service.
Rangers offer walks, talks, kayak tours, and evening programs in summer. Check the park website, park guide, or at the visitor center for scheduled activities.
You may swim, kayak, paddleboard, scuba dive, sail, and canoe. • Scuba divers must be certified and have proper equipment. • Federal and state boating rules apply. Stay alive and wear a lifejacket. Observe all restrictions. • Personal watercraft (PWC), like Jet Skis, are prohibited. • Launch ramps at Oak Bottom, Whiskey Creek, and Brandy Creek. • Oak Bottom has two small stores and a marina with boat rentals. • Brandy Creek has a lifeguarded beach, a small store, and kayak and paddleboard rentals in summer.
The land around Whiskeytown Lake provides opportunities for these activities. Information is at the visitor center and on the park website.
Fishing is permitted from a boat or the shore. Species include rainbow, brook, and brown trout; largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass; and kokanee salmon. California fishing license is required. Inquire about park-
Only recreational gold panning is allowed. Register at the visitor center ($1 fee) and ask for details about this popular activity.
Oak Bottom has tent and RV campgrounds. Tent area has restrooms and fire grates. RV area has restrooms, dump station, and water; no hookups. Oak Bottom beach restrooms have hot showers (fee). Brandy Creek has RV camping (self-contained units only), dump station, and water; no restrooms or hookups. 14-day camping limit May 15 to September 15; 30-day limit rest of the year.
Primitive campgrounds require a permit (fee); they have fire rings, tables, food storage lockers, and restrooms (except at Coggins Park). Backpacking regulations and the required free permit are available at the visitor center.
The backcountry has many miles of trails and dirt and gravel roads. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended. Motorized vehicles must be street legal and are prohibited off-road. Use caution and common sense. If you have vehicle trouble, stay on the road when going for help. Contact the visitor center for winter closures, current road conditions, and trail information.
Buy weekly and annual park passes and permits for gold panning at the visitor center or www.pay.gov. Buy primitive camping permits at the visitor center. National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes also accepted. Display passes on dashboard.
See safety tips in the park guide. Know the regulations: your safety is your responsibility! • Never swim alone. • Watch children closely in and near the water. • Fires allowed only in fire grates and may be restricted if fire danger is extreme. • Pets must be leashed at all times. They are not allowed at East Beach or at the beaches and picnic areas at Brandy Creek, Oak Bottom, and Whiskey Creek Group Picnic Area. • Alcohol prohibited at these same beaches and picnic areas. • Smoking allowed only in designated areas. • Do not feed park animals. • Store food in bear-proof lockers or out of sight in a secured vehicle. • Federal law protects all natural and cultural resources. • For firearms regulations check the park website.
Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area is in northern California. Whiskeytown is a National Park unit. Shasta and Trinity are not. They are part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, which is administered by the US Forest Service. Detailed information at www.fs.usda.gov/stnf.
National Park Service
Whiskeytown Unit. This detailed park map shows major roads, trails, and visitor services located within the park. The overall shape of the park is a rectangle with irregular borders. Whiskeytown Lake sits in the NE corner of the park, and is roughly oval in shape with the long axis of the oval oriented NW-SE. The park’s only visitor center is located on the eastern shore of Whiskeytown Lake, eight miles west of Redding, CA, at the intersection of state highway 299 and Kennedy Memorial Drive. The map legend delineates paved roads, unpaved roads, 4-wheel-drive only roads, and hiking trails. It also depicts sections of the lake closed to boating, and lake areas subject to restricted speed limits. Amenities include the visitor center, boat launches, picnic areas, wheelchair access, telephone, sanitary disposal stations, campgrounds, primitive campgrounds, and backcountry campgrounds. It is noted that some roads and trails may be closed in winter. The main developed areas include Brandy Creek beach, campground, and marina on the lake’s south shore, and Oak Bottom marina, campground, and amphitheater on the lake’s north shore. A boat ramp is also located at Whiskey Creek east of Oak Bottom along the north shore. The Tower House Historic District is located 3.3 miles (5.3 km) west of Oak Bottom along highway 299. The historic district delineates and protects significant cultural resources, including archeological sites, and structures from the gold rush era dating from the mid 1800s. These include the Camden House, the Tower gravesite, the El Dorado Mine, the Camden Water Ditch, and the Crystal Creek Water Ditch. Both water ditches are accessible via walking trails.
The visitor center offers a free guide, "ADA Information" describing wheelchair-negotiable facilities. The park also offers an interpretive kayak program for individuals with disabilities. We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For more information about our services, please ask a ranger, call, or check on our website.
Emergencies call 911
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
PO Box 188
Whiskeytown, CA 96095
530-242-3400 (park headquarters)
530-246-1225 (visitor center)
National Park Foundation
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