Chico is home to a major campus of the California State University and a variety of agricultural activities. Nearby mountains, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Lake Almanor offer outdoor recreation. “Chico State” as the school is known locally brings a few college amenities to the area but it falls short of description as a classic college town. While summers can be unbearably hot and dry, winters are pleasant and many outdoor activities can be pursued throughout the year.
The decline of the forest-products industry has led to unemployment, and the poor air service and 2 1/2-hour drive to Sacramento are negatives. Agricultural processing, supporting a large area of fruit and orchard land to the southwest, is an economic mainstay. There are a number of retirement and resort communities in the mountains northeast -- Paradise is an example – and support of these communities adds to the Chico economy. On a California scale, housing, cost of living, and crime are all reasonable, but rankings are done on a national scale.
The immediate terrain is flat to gently rolling and agricultural. Immediately to the east, grassland, oak-studded foothills begin to rise. Mt. Lassen, an 11,000-foot dormant volcano, dominates the skyline to the northeast. Nearby are numerous steep canyons, notably the Feather River Canyon. Climate is typical Central Valley Mediterranean, with long, hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters. Summer days are usually cloudless and in the 90’s or low 100’s. Evenings may be cooled by mountain air or by “delta” breezes from the San Francisco Bay.