One of California’s best examples of modern architecture, the Sundial Bridge in Redding (AKA Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay), is truly a sight to behold. It is a fully functioning sundial that stands over 217 feet tall and is often said to be the biggest sundial in the world, although the truth of this has been debated. It is also a bridge that was provided to the public as a place to hang out and enjoy the beauty that Redding has to offer. The Sundial Bridge is unique and beautiful and has a way of collecting an assortment of people to hang out in its shade, a truly a great road trip stop.
History and Construction
The Sundial Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge for bicycles and pedestrians that spans the Sacramento River in Redding, California, United States and forms a large sundial. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and completed in 2004 at a cost of US $23,500,000.
The cable for the bridge totals 4,342 feet and was made in England. The dial of the sundial and the small plaza beneath the support tower are decorated with broken white tile from Spain. The bridge’s deck is surfaced with translucent structural glass from Quebec, which is illuminated from beneath and glows aquamarine at night. The steel support structure of the bridge was made in Vancouver, Washington and transported in 40-foot sections by truck to Redding. The bridge is 700 feet in length, and due to its unique design, crosses the river without touching the water, which helps to protect the salmon spawning grounds under the bridge.
The bridge itself is located in the middle of a public garden and crosses the Sacramento River. The bridge is also a great stop on the Sacramento River Trail that runs 35 miles through the city and to the Shasta Dam. It is a beautiful trail to bike all day on, or to simply take a little stroll.
The Sundial itself can tell the time by its shadow that is cast on the ground, which point moves about a foot a minute. However, the dial is only really accurate once a year on the Summer Solstice and you can only see the time from 11:30AM to 3:00PM, other than that you simply have to guess. You can see how it works in the below photo.
When I was there, at least 100 other people were walking around and taking in the bridge. Kids were climbing on its steel anchors, people were picnicking on the grass near it and others were sitting underneath it to get away from the shade.
This is what is great about the bridge, it seems like an area where people genuinely enjoy going to hang out and take a leisurely walk. I would probably enjoy this myself if I lived in the town. There were even a couple of vendors selling drinks and Italian Ice so you could enjoy a cold snack on the hot day.
Update: Bridge at Night
I got to stop by and see the bridge at night. It is really beautiful as the entire walk way is lit up. Seeing it both at night and during the day are completely unique experiences.
All in all the Sundial Bridge in Redding is a great place to hang out, even though the cost seems excessive to me. I recommend you check it out if you are looking for an interesting stop on a road trip. You can see the rest of the photos below and make sure to leave me a comment if you have been to the bridge as well.