10 Best Lakes In California You’ll Love

The Sierra Nevada, the Central Valley, and the Mojave Desert make up the majority of California’s landscape, which is physically diversified. It has a lengthy stretch of coastline, some of the biggest trees in the world, lovely animals, and more than 30,000 lakes and reservoirs. While some of California’s lakes are fully landlocked, others include oceanic drainage systems. While some are modest, others cover an area larger than 370 square miles. Some can be found at sea level or high in the mountains, some are deep, and some are shallow. Whatever the case, one thing that many of California’s lakes have in common is their beauty. Here is a list of the 10 best lakes in California.

1. Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada – Best Lakes In California

Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada -Best Lakes In California
Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada

With a surface area of more than 191 square meters and an elevation of 1,897 meters above sea level, Lake Tahoe is North America’s largest alpine lake. The wonderful lake is a significant tourist destination because of its breathtaking surroundings, which include coniferous forest and lovely beaches. It is located near the boundary between California and Nevada.

Even though the lake is more than 2 million years old, the ice period gave it its current shape. The Washoe tribe once called the lake home, but it is now a bustling resort town that receives large numbers of visitors all year round.

With numerous ski resorts nearby, Lake Tahoe is well-known for its skiing during the winter. Parasailing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and jet skiing are all available at the lake throughout the summer, which transforms into a utopia for water sports aficionados. The most popular activity on Lake Tahoe is boating, while scuba diving is also very popular.

2. Shasta Lake, Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Shasta Lake
Shasta Lake, Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Shasta Lake is California’s largest reservoir, and it is located inside the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area. It has a total area of 12,000 hectares, is 325 meters above sea level, and has the magnificent 4,267-meter Mount Shasta as its gorgeous backdrop. Additionally, it has a coastline that extends for more than 585 kilometers.

Due to its multiple inlets, Shasta Lake is a favorite among boaters; you can frequently see houseboats, fishing boats, and patio boats sailing the lake. In addition, fishing, water skiing, and stand-up paddle boarding are all popular activities there.

Along the lake’s shorelines, there are many marinas that provide mooring and launching. For tourists who don’t bring their own boat, several also provide rental services.

3. Mono Lake, Mono County – Best Lakes In California

Mono Lake - Best Lakes In California
Mono Lake, Mono County

Due to its three times higher salt content than the ocean, Mono Lake is incredibly unusual. It is a stunning lake that formed during the Long Valley eruption and is at least 760,000 years old. Alkali flies, planktonic algae, and brine shrimp all reside in the 18,000 acre lake.

The lake is more of a scenic area than a place to engage in activities. It is very lovely and has strangely sculpted tufa towers that both professional and amateur photographers frequently capture.

4. Lake Havasu, San Bernardino

Lake Havasu, San Bernardino
Lake Havasu, San Bernardino

Behind Parker Dam, on the Colorado River, is a sizable reservoir called Lake Havasu, which borders Arizona. A sizable Mojave Indian village once resided along its 724 km of shoreline, which is a 72 km long reservoir.

Boaters come to Lake Havasu from all around the United States and abroad because it is a boater’s paradise. With so many different types of bass, carp, catfish, and sunfish living there, it is a very well-liked location for fishing. In fact, it frequently organizes sizable fishing competitions.

The Havasu National Wildlife Refuge is located on the lake’s upper end, and Lake Havasu State Park is situated along the lake’s eastern side.

5. Clear Lake, Lake County – Best Lakes In California

Clear Lake, Lake County
Clear Lake, Lake County

With a surface area of more than 100 kilometers, Clear Lake is the largest freshwater lake in California. The lake is a well-liked summer vacation spot and is located in the Pacific Coast Range just north of San Francisco.

Clear Lake, also referred to as the “Bass Capital of the West,” is well-known for its outstanding sport fishing. In fact, Bassmaster Magazine just ranked it as the third best bass lake in the country.

Due to the lake’s warm water, many people who enjoy water sports visit it. Popular lake activities include swimming, sailing, wakeboarding, and water skiing. Additionally, it has approximately 10 free boat launch ramps along its 160 km of beachfront.

6. Lake Almanor, Plumas County

Lake Almanor, Plumas County
Lake Almanor, Plumas County

Lake Almanor, a sizable reservoir created by the 40-meter-high Canyon Dam, is bordered by campgrounds, beaches, housing developments, and the Lassen National Forest.

Its depth of 27 meters and elevation of more than 1,300 meters make it an excellent location for water sports including wakeboarding, jet skiing, kayaking, and sailing. Since there are sufficient, well-equipped marinas throughout its 88 km of shoreline, it is also a favorite destination for boaters.

The Lake Almanor Country Club neighborhood dominates the lake’s east side, and the Lassen National Forest occupies the lake’s southern coast. Wetlands in the north are home to animals including Canada geese, herons, bald eagles, and teal ducks.

7. Convict Lake, Mono County

Convict Lake, Mono County
Convict Lake, Mono County

Convict Lake can be found in the Eastern Sierra a few miles south of Mammoth Lakes, a popular tourist destination. Convict Lake ranks among the most gorgeous lakes in California, in our opinion.

Convict Lake is a favorite spot for sunrise photographers thanks to its picture-postcard setting at the foot of high peaks. The mountains’ reflection in the lake on a calm morning makes for an interesting scene.

You can go boating, swimming, or fishing for trout in the lake. The lake’s perimeter route is also accessible by foot. Fall is a particularly stunning time to go for a walk.

8. Donner Lake, Nevada County

Donner Lake, Nevada County
Donner Lake, Nevada County

Another stunning lake, Donner Lake, can be found in the Sierra Nevada mountains not far from Lake Tahoe. The east and south sides are bordered by the Donner Memorial State Park.

View the Pioneer Monument, which is dedicated to the unfortunate Donner Party, a group of travelers headed for California who perished while attempting to cross Donner Pass. To see the lake from above, drive up to Donner Pass.

Donner Lake is where anglers go to catch trophy-sized lake trout. You may go swimming, boating, windsurfing, and waterskiing in the summer. Mountain biking and hiking are other options.

9. Silverwood Lake, San Bernardino

Silverwood Lake, San Bernardino
Silverwood Lake, San Bernardino

Due to its hiking paths, fantastic beaches, water activities, and dedicated boating areas, Silverwood Lake, which is only 90 minutes from Los Angeles, is a very well-liked lake. Additionally, it is situated along the well-known Pacific Crest Trail.

Given that the San Bernardino Mountains, arid peaks, and forested hills surround Silverwood Lake, it is incredibly attractive. It is a significant water supply for the region around it and is located on the East Branch of the California Aqueduct.

At a height of approximately 1,023 meters above sea level, Silverwood Lake extends nearly 5 kilometers from one end to the other. Camping areas, beaches, and a marina can be found along its more than 20 kilometers of shoreline.

10. Lake Sonoma, Sanoma County

Lake Sonoma, Sanoma County
Lake Sonoma, Sanoma County

Impressive Lake Sonoma is located in the Coastal Mountains to the north of Santa Rosa. The 1,092 acre lake has 80 kilometers of shoreline and a breathtaking mountain backdrop.

The lake is very well-liked and draws outdoor enthusiasts from all around the state, the nation, and the world. In addition to hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, and camping, it is an excellent place for boating, swimming, fishing, and kayaking. In fact, the lake is surrounded by hundreds of campgrounds.

Along with the Warm Springs Dam, the Milt Brandt Visitor Center, Warm Springs Recreation Area, and Congressman Don Clausen Fish Hatchery are all located in Lake Sonoma.

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Luke Beasley

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