By Melissa Wynn


Hat Creek Radio Observatory

Toodling around the Hat Creek and Burney area was like a majestic journey through the final frontier.  A beautiful day among the pines and streams of fish led us on a most-interesting adventure where huge disc shaped radio telescopes  “listen” to space on an endless quest for intelligent extraterrestrial life. It all happens at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, about 4 miles off Hwy. 89 in Hat Creek, CA. We took the tour at Hat Creek Radio Observatory where we absorbed information about SETI (UC Berkeley’s Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). We learned about a process called radio imaging that allows them to “look” into outer space.

This partnership makes for a grand celestial adventure into the great unknown, be you star gazer, alien theorist or even a bit of both. An informative video begins the tour and you can see the video tour on their website at as well. Summer tours are available weekdays by appointment at 530-335-2364.

With our minds full of images of alien life, we found it an ironic twist of fate that led us to giant bugs made of metal and junk. There would be much to take in on this  journey through the final frontier.  Although the ant and dragonfly are made of metal it was almost comical when we rounded a corner on Cassell Road and saw Richard Hathaway moving a 20 foot bug across the driveway with a front-end loader.  Mr. Hathaway owns Packaway Materials Inc, a junkyard at 22244 Cassell Road, Cassell, CA, about 12 miles south of Hat Creek Radio Observatory, also just off Hwy 89. Once a year, Richard and his brother get together with on-hand materials, such as concrete truck tanks and airplane fuselages, and build another enormous sculpture to add to the present collection that includes a dinosaur, fisherman, snowman and many more. A photo album in the office showcases the sculptures and the components used in their construction. These works of junkyard art are great fun and a definite “don’t miss” on a road trip to the Hat Creek area. Come see for yourself  and explore outside the box.

Hat Creek Radio Observatory

42231 Bidwell Road

Hat Creek, CA

– about 4 miles off Hwy. 89

Summer tours are available weekdays by appointment at 530.335.2364.