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Hwy 99 Red Bluff, CA 96080
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Like other routes, Highway 99 began as a horse and stagecoach trail extending from Mexico to Canada, and was eventually improved to higher standards as time moved on. In the early 1920’s when automobiles were being mass produced, a definitive United States Highway system was needed for the promotion of commerce and tourism. In 1926 the Pacific Highway was designated to become US Highway 99. These highways brought growth to many communities, and businesses were developed along these corridors, making it convenient for tourists and businessmen alike.

Highlighted here is one small section of this historic highway and the two communities still linked by this historic route. In Northern California above Sacramento, Hwy. 99 was divided into two routes because of the Sacramento River. Hwy. 99E was of course on the east side of the river. 99W was on the west, and is now Interstate 5. These two routes joined in Red Bluff. Highlighted here is the Red Bluff to Chico section. It should be noted that 99W had some important “firsts” including in Corning, California’s very first municipal auto camp in the early 1900’s.

Red Bluff, a city combining Victorian architecture and strong western heritage, was an important part of California’s gold rush, when its position on the Sacramento River made it the termination point for river ferry traffic. This was as far as ferries could go north towards the northern gold fields. The Kelly Griggs Museum provides a glimpse at what life was like back in the 1880’s. Red Bluff, an antique store haven, is also home to the nation’s largest three day rodeo. From Red Bluff’s main street take Antelope Blvd east, as this was the original Hwy. 99E. Within a few miles is orchard country. Over the decades, this area has been famous for walnuts, peaches, prunes, and almonds. Along this 42 mile route, spring showcases spectacular blossoms and summer affords several opportunities to stop at local fruit stands.

Entering Chico from the north, Hwy. 99 follows the route now called the Esplanade. About two miles south, you see vintage motels that were part of the original 99E, some of which are true classics, such as the Matador Motel. Downtown Chico is a vibrant small business center with numerous specialty shops, great restaurants and coffee shops. A town where walking around is still an enjoyable experience, Chico has been noted in USA Today as a Top 10 “artistic city” and is in “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America”. It is also noted for its glass blowing studios, with current lists of exhibiting artists available at the Chico Chamber. Any trip to Chico should include Bidwell Park, the largest municipal park west of the Mississippi. Enjoy this discovery of a “tale of two cities”.

Drive Tips
Distance: 42 miles
Minimum Driving Time: 1 hour
Best Time to go: Year-round

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