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101 Things Humboldt County

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Blue Lake

AKA Sunny Blue Lake

Blue Lake


Sunny Blue Lake, as the locals call it, is just a 5 mile drive east on Hwy 299 from Hwy 101 between McKinleyville and Arcata. Many visitors to Blue Lake are surprised to find no lake. In the 1860s, the lake for which the town is named was created by receding floodwaters from the Mad River, and for 50 years gave the place a resort atmosphere. A hotel was built on the shore by an early Blue Lake settler. People from the foggy coast made the trek to Blue Lake to enjoy the lake, the river fishing and warmer temperatures of summer. Changes in the course of the river in the 1920s caused the lake to disappear, but fishing, sunshine and the rural charm still draw people to Blue Lake to live and play.

Blue Lake Casino and Hotel, operated by the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe, is a great place to find quality entertainment. Enjoy live music, slots and gaming tables, gourmet and family dining, and a luxury hotel.

Food, drink and entertainment can also be had at Blue Lake's own Mad River Brewing Company, home of the legendary Steelhead Ale. Since 1989 they've won four Gold Medals and four Silver Medals from the Great American Beer FestivalTM alone.

Since 1975 Blue Lake has been home to the internationally known Dell'Arte Players Company and the Dell'Arte School of Physical Theatre. Dell'Arte performs locally, nationally and abroad, and theater students from all over the world train at the school.

For a fascinating and educational experience, take one of the free hatchery tours offered during spawning season at the Mad River Fish Hatchery located at the end of Hatchery Road in Blue Lake. Plan ahead: water levels have been very low for the past few years, limiting the number of fish and the amount of excitement. MORE INFO:

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