Much of Butte Creek Canyon unfolds from the lookout along the Skyway. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

In a state that seems overdeveloped, pausing at the Paradise Lookout is a reminder how vast California really is.

It’s easy to miss this lookout along the Skyway between Chico and Paradise. The view, well, it’s spectacular—better than what photos convey.

From here people look into the Butte Creek Canyon. It, too, was severely impacted by the 2018 Camp Fire, with multiple homes destroyed and the landscape ravaged. Even so, there is so much beauty here no matter the time of year.

Love locks accessorize the fence overlooking Butte Creek Canyon. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The county in 2005 bought the land to turn it into a vista. Butte County and Paradise officials came together to make the lookout a destination of sorts. Before the approximately 4-foot-high fence was erected in 2008 this area was a launching point for people to drive off the cliff to die by suicide.

Much of the $400,000 construction costs came from the county via federal grants, with the city of Paradise contributing $10,000.

A few informational signs that have not weathered well are in the parking lot. Some of the information on them include:

  • Butte Creek originates to the east at an elevation of 7,087 feet on the west edge of the Cascade Mountain Range.
  • The creek is about 25 miles long, with the terminus being the Sacramento River.
  • The surrounding watershed encompasses 510,000 acres.
  • The creek has 14 miles of spawning grounds for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

Since the fence was installed it has become a popular place for people to attach a lock.

According to LoveLocksOnline, the history of love locks goes back hundreds of year. “(It’s) believed to have originated in China—where lovers lock a padlock on a chain or gate and then throw away the key, symbolically locking their love forever.”

Locks of all shapes and sizes adorn the Paradise Lookout fence. Multiple ones were locked together, while most were single locks. Some have initials on them. There were too many count.

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