About Colusa County
Located in California’s Central Valley, 1,156-square-mile Colusa County was one of the 27 original counties established at California’s statehood in 1850. Possibly named for two Mexican land grants, Coluses (1844) and Colus (1845) or perhaps for the Coru Indian tribe that lived to the west of the Sacramento River, part of the county’s eastern boundary is formed by the river. This county once encompassed all of what is now Glenn County as well as portions of the current-day Tehama County.
Though some may consider Colusa County to be rather rural, especially given its agricultural economy, locals can reach the capital city of Sacramento by automobile in just over an hour and be in San Francisco in about 2 hours. However, most people who live in Colusa County do not travel into the cities for employment. Most are farmers or small business owners whose interests stay within the boundaries of the county.
Bordered by Yolo, Sutter, Butte, Glenn, and Lake Counties, Colusa County’s economy is indeed based on agriculture, and crops such as pistachios, Asian pears, almonds, prunes, walnuts, wine grapes, tomatoes, rice, corn, cotton, safflower, wheat, beans, sunflowers, melons, alfalfa, pumpkins, and onions are commonplace in the fields of the county’s small towns. Rice has been, for decades, the number one crop in the county with perennial crops, like grapes and walnuts, growing in popularity.
The town of Colusa, located along Highway 45 in the eastern portion of the county, is the county seat. With a population of about 5,500 and an area of 1.7 square-miles, Colusa is a tiny town situated along the Sacramento River. Guests to Colusa can find plenty of tree-lined parks and open space as well as several attractive turn-of-the-century Victorian structures that are fun to photograph. Three Colusa structures are on the National Register of Historic Places: the classical revival-style Colusa Carnegie Library, the neo-Gothic Colusa Grammar School, and Colusa High School, a prime example of late 19th century revival architecture. In June, the county fair is held here at the Colusa County Fairgrounds. The city is also home to various other Colusa County special events and festivals.
Nearby, the 4,500-acre Colusa National Wildlife Refuge is one of six refuges in the Sacramento Refuge Complex located in the Sacramento Valley of north-central California, and is considered one of the most important wintering areas for waterfowl in North America. Thousands of visitors arrive here each year to photograph the wildlife, and pheasant and waterfowl may be hunted during certain times of the year. Other local refuges include the Delevan National Wildlife Refuge near the town of Delevan and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge near the northern border of the county.
Also nearby, the 67-acre Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area provides campsites, picnic areas, and a boat ramp to launch small boats for leisure or fishing. Expect to catch king salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout, and striped bass. The best times for salmon fishing are September and October and April through June. Catfish, shad, carp, and sturgeon can also be found in this portion of the Sacramento River.
The town of Williams is located near the intersection of Highway 5 and Route 20 in the center of the county. At 5.4-square-miles, it’s larger than Colusa but still relies on agriculture to support its economy, though reports show that some Sacramento commuters are beginning to buy up the new homes that are being built in this and neighboring towns, adding a new surge to the usually slow Colusa County real estate market.
Arbuckle and College City are also located along the 5 Freeway, but in the southern part of Colusa County. These two small towns are census-designated places with relatively small populations made up of mostly farmers and their families. Along northern Highway 5, you’ll find the town of Maxwell. Not unlike the other towns in Colusa County, Maxwell is largely agricultural. Other small towns in Colusa County include Stonyford, Lodoga, Sites, Leesville, Venado, Wilbur, Sycamore and Grimes.
Tucked away in the northwestern corner of Colusa County near the town of Fouts Springs, guests can enjoy the Snow Mountain Wilderness Area, part of the Mendocino National Forest. Snow Mountain is the southernmost peak of the North Coast Range. Hikers can backpack miles upon miles of trails here – many also suitable for horseback riding - where guests can view interesting varieties of wildlife as well as colorful wildflowers. The best time to visit is during the spring and summer, when everything is abloom. The summer temperatures in this wilderness area are also much cooler than in the remainder of the county, which can be quite scorching during July and August.
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