Year-round activities are ripe for the picking on the Sacramento, though the deep-water delta near the San Francisco Bay particularly comes alive in warmer months when East Bay residents pick up wakeboarding, boating, and sailing.
Get up close and personal on your next visit to the capital—book a historic river cruise that passes by notable Sacramento landmarks, such as the Tower Bridge and Air Force Docks. You can also appreciate the river’s bounty from afar with a San Francisco sightseeing flex pass, which allows you to design an itinerary based on your own interests, at your own pace. Choose up to six attractions to be scheduled during a 30-day period; attractions include a cocktail cruise where the Sacramento meets the Bay, a behind-the-scenes tour at the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park, or entry to the star-studded Madame Tussauds San Francisco.
Things to Know Before You Go
- No matter the season, Sacramento offers activities between Northern California and the Bay; river and dinner cruises are popular during chillier months, while water sports make a splash in warmer months.
- Stop by the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Butte County for maps, special programs, and exhibits. Loan a pair of binoculars or a field guide to enhance your visit.
- Wildlife is abundant near the Sacramento River; common sightings include otters, mountain lions, western pond turtles, and great blue herons. Though wildlife makes for incredible photographic opportunities, you should use caution when exploring the area.
How to Get There
The river runs about 10 miles east of Interstate 5 most of the way from Redding to the San Francisco Bay, crossing through the heart of California’s capital along the way. Drop into a major city for a guided tour on the river, or drive yourself to any point along the 445-mile stretch to create your own adventure.
When to Get There
There isn’t a bad time to visit the Sacramento River, though certain activities are best suited for different seasons. Thanks to California’s relatively moderate climate, strolling the banks, river cruises, and lavish dinners on Sacramento’s permanently docked Delta King Riverboat are always in season; if you’re looking for fun on the water, summer and fall is your best bet.
Life in the Sacramento River Basin
As the largest river and watershed system in California, the Sacramento River—also fed by the Pit, Feather, and American Rivers—carries more than 30% of the state’s total surface runoff. It provides drinking water throughout northern and southern California, and is essential for agriculture in the Sacramento Valley; rice, fruits, and olives are prime beneficiaries. Along its banks, wetlands and woodlands are home to a multitude of plant and wildlife species, notably the Chinook salmon.
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