The outlook for travel and camping at Northern California lakes.
Redding, CALIF. With lake levels approaching high water marks, Northern California tourism and campground officials are anticipating the best boating season in the past 15 years.
Shasta Lake is 20 feet higher than last year at this time, says Bob Warren, general manager of the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association and head of the Redding C&VB. You would have to go back to 1995 to find the lakes as full.
Arne Anderson, general manager of Shasta Recreation, which operates campgrounds for the USDA Forest Service at Shasta Lake, Lewiston Lake and Trinity Lake concurs. It’s the first time in eight years that Trinity is within 20 feet of the crest. Shasta Lake is at 89 percent of capacity, while Trinity is at 86 percent.
What this means for campers is that the lakes are licking at the edges of many campground sites. At Lewiston, the sites are almost always near the waterline, but this spring and summer campers will probably be able to camp closer to the waterline at Shasta and Trinity than has been available in some time, says Anderson.
Despite the high water, Anderson reports, campground reservations have been coming in slower than expected. Many of the most popular sites still remain open. Though, by Memorial Day, most of the desirable sites and dates will be gone. Still, if you were to call us now (877-444-6777) or go online (reservations.gov), you’d almost have your pick.
Warren attributes the availability of online information to shortening the reservation cycle in recent years. People used to reserve a houseboat or their favorite campsite a year in advance. The Internet has allowed people to see what’s available. That, and low water years, got people to expect that their favorite campsite or houseboat would be available all the time. This year, they may be in for a surprise if they wait too long to reserve it.
Of course, there’s always Redding. Our proximity to the lakes is a strength, says Warren. People who prefer to stay in a hotel room have 2,500 to choose from (visitredding.com). It’s not uncommon to see wakeboard boats, drift boats and bass boats parked in hotel parking lots along Hilltop Drive (Redding’s resort drive), and some of those are from folks who waited too long to reserve their campsite or houseboat.
Asked for insider’s tips, Anderson suggests, The hidden secret at Trinity Lake is that it’s a great fishery for small and largemouth bass, and for families seeking creature-comfort camping, Shasta Lake’s Yurts are a great choice. Kids can pitch a tent outside; there’s space for an RV; and staying in a Yurt is fun. Warren adds, Our best-known waterfalls (Whiskeytown and Burney) will be spectacular this year, and bring along bikes to ride on the new 16-mile Sacramento River Trail between Sundial Bridge and Shasta Dam.