A functional work of art, this remarkable bridge, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, took 11 years to complete and spans the tree-lined, trout-filled Sacramento River. The 700-foot-long span in Redding’s Turtle Bay Exploration Park is undeniably striking, with its glass block walkway and soaring white tower and suspension cables forming a functioning sundial—a nod to human creativity and ingenuity, both important themes of the 300-acre park.
Before you cross the bridge, explore the park near the bridge’s interpretive center with a stroll through Paul Bunyan's Forest Camp, modeled after an old-time logging camp. Cool off in the mist-sprayed butterfly house and wait for colorful residents to flit by, then step inside the center to see some of Calatrava's initial sketches for the bridge.
On the north side of the bridge, on the other side of the river, relax in Mediterranean-climate display gardens highlighting native plants at the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, or rent bikes to follow paved paths along the waterfront. An inviting network of mountain bike trails explores surrounding open space, with broad views of the Sacramento River and beyond.
A morning or afternoon visit to the bridge will allow you to take advantage of such options, but if you come after dark, there is one payoff—namely, the dramatic lighting effect created by LED lights on the bridge. At sunset they turn on one by one, and at full illumination make the structure look even more like what Calatrava imagined it: a goose in flight.
Insider tip: The Sundial Bridge is great for bird watchers year-round, but if you happen to be there in July, you may be in for an unforgettable sight: thousands of swallows swooping out from under the glass walkway (the beams have become a favorite place for them to build their nests that time of year).