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Oroville

Spend time in this historic Butte County town and discover its nearby destinations for outdoor recreation

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With its long history and an array of nearby natural escapes, the county seat of Oroville is an outstanding base from which to explore many of Butte County’s top attractions.

In this town along the Feather River, you’ll find stately Victorians, including the 1856 C.F. Lott Home (open for tours) as well as such landmarks as the Chinese Temple and Museum Complex. Originally a place of worship for Chinese laborers that dates to 1863, it’s still occasionally used as a religious center and is filled with tapestries and costumes from the Far East. You can also stroll through the temple’s traditional Chinese garden.

To learn about Oroville’s Gold Rush and Native American history, stop into the Pioneer History Museum, which was built to resemble a 49er’s stone cabin. And while still due for a fuller restoration, the Oroville State Theatre in the heart of downtown gives the community a historic venue for live performances.

Oroville is also the gateway to Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, where the country’s tallest earth-filled dam creates California’s second largest reservoir—with a remarkable 167 miles of shoreline. If you’re into fishing, the lake is your kind of place. It’s a haven for anyone hoping to hook both small- and bigmouth bass, and the underwater windows at the recreation area’s Feather River Fish Hatchery give visitors a one-of-a-kind look at salmon and steelhead during their spawning seasons.

And in addition to swimming at designated beach areas, there’s plenty to do on land, too. The recreation area’s trail system lets mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians venture out into the hills surrounding the lake. During times of high water, boats on Lake Oroville can cruise to within a quarter-mile of Feather Falls, but you’ll earn your views of these 640-foot-tall cascades on the Fall River via 7- or 9-mile roundtrip hikes along the Feather Falls National Scenic Trail.

Other scenic outdoor destinations near Oroville include Big Bald Rock, where a short, easy trail leads to views that extend out over the lake and Sacramento Valley. And if you’re into spring wildflowers, Table Mountain, a basalt mesa and part of North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve less than 20 minutes from Oroville, delivers one of California’s premier wildflower displays—especially in years with good rains.

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