If camping is on your bucket list, you’re going to love this list of amazing California lakes. Perfect for a weekend adventure or an entire vacation. Secluded Alpine Lakes with huge freshwater reservoirs, these California lakes offer fishing, boating, hiking, and lakefront campgrounds. Discover the best places to camp by a lake in California.
Many visitors rent one of Shasta Lake’s houseboats and spend an entire vacation floating on the lake. Ski boat rentals are also available at few places around the lake. There are three Marinas where you can rent a houseboat at Lake Shasta. Bridge Bay, Jones Valley, and Silverthorn.
For landlubbers, there are numerous campgrounds situated around the lake. Shasta Lake is located in northern California, about 10 miles north of Redding. It is located right on Interstate 5, so it’s easy to reach by car. Interstate 5 actually crosses right over Shasta Lake.
Lake Oroville is a wonderful place for a camping vacation. Located about 75 miles north of Sacramento, the lake, when full, has over 160 miles of forested shoreline. Campers choose lakeside campgrounds, boat-in camping, or the most popular option, floating campsites.
You will need a boat to reach floating sites. Your boat or a rental. Each floating campsite sleeps up to 15 people. The state manages only ten floating campsites. Reservations are a must. Houseboat vacation rentals are also available from Lake Oroville Marina.
Long considered by campers, hikers, and anglers to be the hidden gem of the Sierra National Forest, Bass Lake Recreation Areas are one of Northern California’s most popular outdoor recreation spots. Bass Lake is considered a warm water lake with water temperatures near 80 degrees during the summer months.
For campers, there are over 250 sites for tent camping with a large number of level sites that offer full electrical, water, and sewer hookups for your recreational vehicle. There are also several lakefront hotels along with vacation cabin rentals.
Emerald Bay State Park has all the facilities you would expect on a lakefront state park, including two piers, a beach, two campgrounds, and a visitor center. One of the campgrounds is for tent campers only, as it can only be reached by boat. It is called, logically enough, the “Boat-In Campground” and has about 20 lakefront sites available.
Eagle Point campground has 100 campsites. Emerald Bay State Park is located in South Lake Tahoe, 22 miles from Tahoe City. Campsites are only open during the summer season.
June Lake Loop is home to four lakes. Gull, Silver, Grant, and June Lake. Gull Lake has the best campgrounds in the area and is the favorite of fishermen. Silver Lake is the most attractive of the lakes to hikers interested in exploring the backcountry. Silver Lake campground has 58 campsites.
Grant Lake has a marina and campground; it is the largest lake in the loop. June Lake has the largest town with quaint shops, restaurants, lodges, and taverns. June Lake campground has 27 campsites.
Convict Lake is located south of Mammoth Lakes in California’s Eastern High Sierra mountains. Convict Lake campground is primitive with pit toilets and no hookups, but the setting is beautiful and makes roughing it bearable. If you can’t find an available campsite or are looking for a few of those creature comforts of home, Convict Lake Resort is just across the road. Here you will find cozy lake view chalets, which provide the perfect setting to enjoy a romantic getaway or fun-filled family vacation.
Folsom Lake is a great vacation destination for a family that likes camping. Camping options include Beals Point, which offers 49 sites, BBQs, and a lifeguard on duty in the summer, in the swim areas. Boat-in camping is a lot of fun if you have a self-contained boat for you and your guest, including sleeping space for all onboard.
There are designated places on the lake for mooring/camping. If you prefer shore camping, there are over 100 sites at Peninsula Campground. Folsom Lake is near Sacramento, California.
Huntington Lake is 80 miles northeast of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Deer Creek Campground is one of the most popular at Huntington Lake. The campground is only a stone throws away from the lake’s shore. Catavee campground offers more secluded campsites Giving campers the feeling of being completely alone yet close enough to access the lake.
There are five additional Forest Service Campgrounds around the lake’s shores and the nearby vicinity. All campgrounds have reservations available and are usually open from June through October.
Lake Isabella is Nestled in what is known as the Kern River Valley between two sections of the Sequoia National Forest. Campgrounds in the area are abundant. Lower Kern River, Lake Isabella, and the Upper Kern River. State-run campgrounds, private resort-style campgrounds, and free camping areas can all be found along the Kern River Valley. The Kern River is about three hours north of Los Angeles.
There are over 550 campsites for campers, 90 of which offer full electrical, water, and sewer hookups for your recreational vehicle. Lake Cachuma also offers yurts and cabins for a more comfortable camping experience. Lake Cachuma is a perfect location to get away from the city without leaving too many of its creature comforts behind. Lake Cachuma is located 23 miles from downtown Santa Barbara along Highway 154.
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, set high in the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest. The lake is an angler’s paradise and provides plenty of trout, largemouth bass, catfish, and bluegill to catch. Visitors will find that an overnight stay is a must. Camping is available at Mesa Campground with its 136 family campsites.
While not know as a vacation destination, Lake Perris makes a great weekend getaway. For campers, there are 167 sites for tent camping and 264 paved sites which offer full electrical, water, and sewer hookups. Lake activities include fishing, hiking, water skiing, and jet ski fun.
Castaic Lake State Recreation Area offers 60 self-contained overnight camping sites at its lower lake lagoon, accommodating travel trailers, campers, and RVs. Tent camping is also available on a limited basis. The campground makes the perfect place to set up your “base camp” for all your recreational activities.
Tucked between the mountains of Northern California, you will find the watery oasis of Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake wholly contained in California. Motorboats for water skiing and pontoon boats for enjoying the lake are available for rent at several locations surrounding the park. Hotels, campgrounds, and cottages are available in the area.
Butte Lake is perched at nearly 6,100 feet in the northeastern section of Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. The campground provides visitors with the perfect blend of seclusion and civilization amidst mountain hemlock, Jeffrey pine, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and numerous other tree species.
Don Pedro Lake is also one of the few lakes where camping along the undeveloped lakeshore is permitted. For those who truly want to get away from it all, this is the place to do it. Fishing opportunities here are excellent. Try your luck in the open water of the lake or the cool waters of the stream. There are a marina and fish cleaning station on site.