If you are staying at Ah-Di-Na Campground, checking out this historic site is a no-brainer. But if you are in the surrounding area on the lower McCloud River at one of the other campgrounds or the McCloud Nature Conservancy, this site is still worth the walk.
The Ah-Di-Na Historic Site partially lies within the Ah-Di-Na Campground just upstream from the campsites. The site itself was firstly inhabited by the Wintu Native Americans for some time before the Whittier family of San Francisco took over the land for its prime river access, good hunting, and productive fruit orchard. It won't even take a full minute on site to realize what a special place this is.
The land was transferred over to William Fitzhugh in 1919, and finally William Randolph Hearst in the 1930s. In her "Dictionary of Early Shasta County History," Dottie Smith writes,
[Ah-Di-Na's] heydays were during Hearst's ownership. Hearst adorned Ah Di Na with lavish furnishings, marble bathtubs, a telephone system, tongue and groove walnut flooring, an electrical generating system and a sprinkler system. He used the resort as housing for his many guests who came to visit him at Wyntoon, his estate 10 miles upstream. When Hearst died in 1951, Ah Di Na became seldom used. It didn't take long for vandalism to begin. In 1958, the Hearst family ordered the caretaker to burn all the buildings in an attempt to stop the vandalism.
Unlike Hearst's Castle in San Simeon, there were no zebras here. But what the site lacks in imported exotic animals it makes up for in free range deer, orchard-loving bears and the famous trout of the McCloud River. Various trails outside of the campground, as well as inside, will lead down to the McCloud for a nice afternoon cast.
If you are planning on visiting the space and the Ah-Di-Na Campground is full, do yourself a favor and stay at the on-site campground, Fowler's Campground or one of the dispersed grounds within a mile downstream. You won't regret or forget the day(s) you spend on the McCloud.
Do not attempt making the drive in a sedan. The frequent potholes, ruts, and drainage ditches in the roadway as well as falling rocks and boulders make for a long and bumpy ride in. Do not park inside the campground without paying for a campsite, or you risk being fined.