New on Sidetracked:

Only In California

Produced in Partnership with Visit California

When asked about California, each person’s mind conjures a different image. Is it the California of technology or entertainment, of beaches or mountains, of scenery that moves folk to tears, or of sprawling urban centres?

Together with Visit California, the Sidetracked team has been exploring the Golden State. We sent writers and photographers from north to south, inland and out into the Pacific, with one aim: discover the extremes of California.

And that’s how we found ourselves speeding through the woods on the state’s best mountain bike trails, how we spearfished our lunch in kelp forests off a little-visited island in the Pacific, and how we joined sixth-generation ranchers on their annual cattle drive. We also gathered stories of climbing to the summit of Mount Shasta at 4,322m and cycling through the vineyards of Sonoma. For our road trip around Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, we relied on the knowledge of those who know the area best. Thanks to fortuitous chats with locals, we hiked panoramic trails away from the crowds, ran through groves of the biggest trees on Earth (and didn’t meet anyone) and rode thrilling singletrack. On one memorable evening, a friendly photographer pointed us to the best place in the world to take night-sky photos. For two weeks, we discovered the California where the locals play.

Main image: @Jaykolsch

In the course of putting this project together, there’s one thread that all our writers, photographers, and filmmakers reported, and that’s the great diversity of the state: diversity in people and cultures, diversity in cities and towns and, of course, the extreme diversity of the landscape. From the lowest place in California to one of the highest, from the most remote to some of the most visited, the California we found was always unusual and unexpected. The California we discovered could only have been found in California.