Sundial Bridge | Redding, California

“A bridge adds energy to the landscape.” ~ Santiago Calatrava, world-renowned Spanish architect and engineer who conceived the Sundial Bridge’s unusual design

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial

I was in the Redding area (in Northern California) for a wedding last June. With a few unscheduled hours early in the day I decided to do a little exploring, and knowing that the Sundial Bridge was nearby I made that my destination.

And . . . Wow!

A Few Bridge Facts

Per the website:

The Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay crosses the Sacramento River in the heart of Redding, California.

As the name suggests, the Sundial Bridge is, in fact, a working sundial and is one of the largest in the world. The sundial shadow traces such a large arc that it can record only four hours a day, from 11am – 3pm.

The pylon is 217 feet high – almost 20 stories – so tall that it requires a red aircraft warning light.

The angle of the pylon is 42 degrees and points directly north.

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial

The pylon is a gnomon for a giant sundial – its markers are set for the Summer Solstice (June 21st) when its shadow moves 1 foot per minute between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

There are 14 cables – 4342 feet of total length – that support the bridge.

The bridge weighs 1,600 tons. (By comparison, the Space Needle weighs 3,700 tons; the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,000 tons, and the Golden Gate Bridge is 419,800 tons.)

The bridge is designed to flex, sway, expand, and contract to absorb changes in the load.

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial To protect salmon spawning beds, no part of the bridge touches the water except during seasonal floods, and the translucent deck allows light to reach the water.

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial

Dynamic tension

Ironically, gravity keeps this bridge from falling down. The pylon and deck pull on one another through the cables. This tension supports both: The weight of the pylon holds up the deck and the weight of the deck keeps the pylon from falling over.

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial

Gardens Across the Bridge

On the north side of the river is the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial | McConnell Arboretum | botanical garden Approximately 25 acres of thoughtfully-planned gardens lie within the 200-acre Arboretum with a loop trail that links to the Sacramento River Trail.  The garden pathways are wide, accessible and easy-to-navigate.

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial | McConnell Arboretum | botanical garden Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial | McConnell Arboretum | botanical garden | water feature | fountain The gardens are open from 8:00 a.m. until dusk.

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial | McConnell Arboretum | botanical garden

Gnomon of Sundial Bridge, as seen from McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

The Sundial Bridge connects the Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Handicap parking is available near the Main Park Entrance.

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial | McConnell Arboretum | botanical garden | handicap parking

Bridge | Sundial Bridge | Santiago Calatrava | Redding, California | Northern California | Turtle Bay Exploration Park | Sacramento River | accessible | sundial | McConnell Arboretum | botanical garden | map

Map of Turtle Bay Exploration Park, showing Sundial Bridge and McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

Did You Know?

Redding, California, is the Second Sunniest City in the United States – sunnier than Las Vegas or Phoenix. (Yuma, Arizona has the honor of being #1)

So bring a hat, sunscreen and water if you’re going to visit the Sundial Bridge during the summer months!

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