Northern California might be a dry, dusty place, but we also have plenty of alpine lakes and magnificent reservoirs to cool off in every summer. Most of the state has recently been feeling heat wave after heat wave, but at least we have these magnificent lakes, rivers, beaches, waterfalls and pools where we can keep cool.
1. Yuba River
One of the most breathtaking rivers of Northern California is the Yuba River, which is fed by snowmelt coming out of the Sierra. Large granite boulders and picturesque swimming holes are a common sight here. Wear a lifejacket if there is any sign of a current, however, and do your research about river safety before jumping in!
2. Potem Falls
Located near the Pitt River arm of Shasta Lake, Potem Falls is a 70 foot waterfall that is tucked out of sight and out of mind for most visitors to the area. Its remote nature makes it a dream come true for hikers seeking a bit of solitude.
3. Fern Canyon
While the water is nowhere near deep enough to actually dunk in, the slow trickle and fern covered walls of this canyon hike will keep you nice and cool. Your feet are bound to get wet, however, so bring a change of socks or sturdy water shoes you can hike in.
4. Patrick's Point State Park
This state park showcases the epitome of Northern California beauty. Located where the redwoods meet the sea, dramatic coastal bluffs and interesting tidepools make for endless hours of exploration for any adventurer from 1 to 99.
Swim in the gentle current of the Gualala river, relax on the beach, or explore the surrounding sleepy little town and resort community of Gualala. The most fascinating and memorable part of this destination is seeing where the river reaches the Pacific Ocean. It's definitely a sight to behold.
6. Burney Falls
One of the most highly regarded destinations in Northern California, a day trip to these majestic falls is one for the record books. Go and see for yourself what all the fuss is about, you won't regret it (although you will have to brave some crowds if you visit during peak tourist season in the summer).
7. Battery Point Lighthouse
There's not many islands that you can walk to, but the Crescent City Lighthouse is one! This historic lighthouse is located on a peninsula during low tide, and interested visitors can walk right out to the lighthouse for a tour. When the tides roll in, the lighthouse is surrounded by water on all sides and you are stuck. Be sure to research the tides before you venture out so you don't end up swimming home! How is that for memorable?
8. Lake Tahoe
Dubbed the "Jewel of the Sierra," there is no better place to take a quick dip than in the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe. In some places, the water is so pristine you can see down to about 60 feet below the surface. Pair that clarity with the majestic mountain views of Lake Tahoe and you have yourself a beautiful waterfront retreat.
9. Shasta Lake
One of the largest reservoirs of Northern California, Shasta's turquoise waters make a fine place for boating, fishing, and splashing around. For a truly iconic Northern California experience, rent out a houseboat and sleep out on the water for a few days. It's so much more memorable than an average camping trip.
10. The Lower McCloud Falls
The brave love to jump off a wooden platform here at the Lower McCloud Falls, making it one of the coolest and most unique swimming holes around. It can get pretty popular in the summer, so try to visit on a weekday if possible.
11. American River
A tributary of the Sacramento river, the American River is a popular place for whitewater enthusiasts of all kinds. Remember, it is actually much safer to go with a fully outfitted company with trained guides rather than try your hand on mellower rapids on your own. Always wear a lifejacket!
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