Parks and trails along the Sacramento River near the Sundial Bridge

Begin a visit to the Turtle Bay Exploration Park on thesouth side of the river at the visitor center. The first thing younotice is the Monolith, an interpretive sculpture created by Seattleenvironmental artist Buster Simpson from the ruins of the site’soriginal gravel plant. Catwalks take visitors through the area,where art teaches about industry. Next, you can walk through PaulBunyan’s Forest Camp, with its logging and ecology exhibits. Cooloff in the mist-sprayed butterfly house (closes Sep 6) and thenview the hawks, eagles, and other raptors cared for here.

The main museum combines the arts, cultural history, and naturalhistory in its exhibits. Calatrava’s initial sketches for thebridge, some done on placemats in a Los Angeles restaurant, are ondisplay. A 22,000-gallon aquarium, which looks like a slice of theSacramento River, holds 12 of the river’s 58 kinds of fish,including white sturgeon and the river’s most sought-after denizen,the rainbow trout.

Kris Kennedy of the Fly Shop in Redding insists that “theSacramento is now one of the best trout fisheries in the country.”Most fishing is done from drift boats, because fluctuating waterlevels can make wading dangerous.

Hikers, bikers, and in-line skaters can explore the river’sbanks via the 20 miles of the Sacramento River Trail. A good10-mile loop from the north bank of the bridge passes throughincreasingly wild country, where lizards and snakes skitter out ofthe way, and mountain lions make an occasional appearance. After 5miles, the trail crosses the 420-foot concrete-and-cable RibbonBridge (1990), then loops back downstream to the old DiestelhorstBridge (1915), crossing the river to make its return.

The day ends where it started: at the Sundial Bridge. As youstand on the glass deck near sunset, almost floating on the scentedbreeze, the importance of the span is clear. Santiago Calatravadidn’t simply give Redding a bridge ― he gave the city itsriver.

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