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Your Guide to McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Your Guide to McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park

This guide to McArthur Burney Falls National State Park is the only one you need for a full itinerary on visiting this beautiful park. Team


6 min read

June 15, 2023

As the second oldest park in California’s State Parks system, McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park has a lot to offer to nature lovers and camp aficionados alike. The park sports an ancient rugged landscape forged by a million years of volcanic activity and erosion. It is these awesome natural forces that gave the park its scenic mountain peak, so it’s no wonder that the park is a stop on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. The mountains around McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park remain covered with volcanic rock and basalt to this day. 

This, combined with the park’s bountiful freshwater spring that feeds Burney Falls (sometimes misspelled ‘Bernie falls, CA’), where the water flows at 100 million gallons per day, makes for one of the most verdant and magical nature parks in the entire United States. Thanks to California’s State Parks system, this natural bounty is something we can all enjoy, and there’s no shortage of fun stuff to do. 

Things to Do in the Park

Swim and Fish at Lake Britton 

Although technically not within the park, Lake Britton is surrounded by McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park and is open to the public for fishing, swimming, and boating. The lake is nine miles long, making it a great place for boaters to explore, with many cool nooks and crannies. Rent a kayak from one of the on-site vendors and find your secluded nook from which to admire the majesty of nature. 

Or, get a motorboat and go out into the lake for some prime fishing territory, and explore the many boat docks throughout the lake. There are also some cool landmarks worth seeing here, including an old rail bridge that was featured in the 1986 drama blockbuster Stand by Me, as well as the Put River Dam. 

Lake Britton’s calm waters are perfect for fishing, swimming, boating, windsurfing, and more.

See The Falls 

Burney Falls is, without a doubt, the centerpiece of the park. Towering at 129 feet high, the falls provide a constant flow of fresh water that feeds the Pit River and Lake Britton to the north. The falls were dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by President Theodore Roosevelt and declared a national natural landmark in 1954. There are multiple ways to see these stunning Northern California waterfalls up close, including three hiking trails; the Falls Loop Trail, the Headwaters Loop Trail, and the Burney Creek Trail. 

All three trails start at the park’s visitor center and provide excellent views of the falls from both sides and multiple angles. We recommend taking the Burney Creek Trail if you want also to admire the lush coniferous forests of the area, although the Falls Loop Trail provides the most views of the falls themselves. The Headwaters Traill will give you a better view of the stream that feeds the falls. Since none of the trails are longer than one mile, you could even hike all of them if you are so inclined. Just be sure to check the park’s website for updates on trail closures before you start your hike. 

Use one of three trails to reach the top of the falls and see Burney Creek.


McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park also offers some great camping spots perfect for a summer family outing. In addition to sporting plenty of campsites, McArthur Burney Falls also offers two barbecue pits and four prep areas, perfect for a family barbeque in the great outdoors. The camp also has drinking water, restrooms, and showers to clean up after a day of hiking. There is also a dump area for RV owners, so Burney Falls State Park does have everything you would need for the perfect camping trip. Unfortunately, the park does not allow pets either in the campsites or the beach, so Fido will have to sit this one out. 

How to Get to the Park

The only way to get to Burney Falls, California is to drive. The park is on Highway 89 near the town of Burney, about six miles north of Highway 299 and 65 miles northwest of Redding, CA, the nearest city. Driving from Redding takes about an hour and ten minutes one way. For those living in the bay area, the trip will take at least five hours one way, depending on traffic. 

How Much Does it Cost to Get Into Burney Falls? 

Before you can discover the waterfalls, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee. Day parking at McArthur Burney Falls Memorial Park cost ten bucks, allowing you the full day to explore the park and enjoy its natural majesty. Overnight camping at the park costs $35 per night, including a parking permit for one vehicle, although this goes up by $10 if you bring a camper with you.

We recommend booking way in advance online so you can secure a spot at this very popular state park.

Do You Need a Reservation? 

You can make an online reservation for the Burney Falls State Park and we highly recommend that you do as the park is very busy during the summer. You can book a campsite or one of the available cabins six months in advance from the current date. 

When you’re going on a long road trip, it’s nice to know for sure that you’ve got a place to camp at your destination. Otherwise, campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s kind of a gamble if you decide not to make a reservation. Please note that the cabins at McArthur Burney Falls are closed during the winter.  


McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park is very busy between April and October and parking space is rather limited. The park authorities close the entrance to the park when they reach parking capacity, so it’s a great idea to come as early as you can to beat the rush of tourists and the traffic on Highway 89. You should also know that it is illegal to park along the highway and that the park cannot accommodate vehicles longer than 32 feet.  

Where to Camp

McArthur Burney Falls has several campsite types to choose from, including classic tent grounds, hook-ups for RVs, group camping sites, and even boat-in camping sites. Additionally, Burney Falls also features floating campsites allowing you to camp and lounge by the breathtaking waterfalls. If you’d prefer something more solid than a tent, Burney Falls State Park also features a limited number of cabins that are just perfect if you’d like a cozy spot with a bit more privacy and creature comforts. 

The park offers a variety of campgrounds and also has some wood cabins if you’d prefer a bit more comfort and privacy.

Visiting Tips

Burney Falls camping is made all the easier by the fact that the park has a provisions store on site that has tents, firewood, and other hiking needs. While it is more convenient, it is best not to bring your firewood but to buy some on-site. Transporting firewood from somewhere else can help spread pests such as insects and even diseases. These kinds of mass infestations can have a huge negative effect on the park, so let’s protect this beautiful sanctuary and “buy it where you burn it.” 

The park is wheelchair accessible and features a great learning center for those who would like to learn more about the history of Burney Falls State Park and discover the various species that call it home. If you’d prefer something more fast-paced than hiking or fishing, Britton Lake is also a great place to get into windsurfing or even snorkeling. 

Burney Falls State Park is wheelchair accessible and also features a nice visitor center with some history of the park and its local species.

What City is Closest to Burney Falls? Where to Stay Overnight

Let’s say you decide to stay overnight in the area, but don’t manage to snag a campsite. Fortunately, you have some options if you need to stay overnight. The nearby town of Burney, CA has a good selection of nice motels to choose from, most of which are no more than twenty minutes driving time away from the park. You can expect to spend between $84 and $154 per night if you choose to stay at a motel. 

This can be a good option if you want to travel with your family but would prefer to stay somewhere with air conditioning and WiFi. For more upscale hotels, you’ll have to look for a place in Redding, CA, as this is the nearest city to Burney Falls State Park. However, prices tend to be higher for hotels here and the city is much further from the park. If you plan to stay in Redding, expect a three-hour round-trip drive to visit McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park.

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