Camping + swimming in northern California?
September 7, 2013 4:02 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to go somewhere in northern California where I can camp--either tent camping or cabin-type camping--on or very near a lake that I can also swim in. Any suggestions? Pretty much anywhere from the central valley to the CA/OR border is fair game. I'd also be OK with less-rustic accommodations on or very near a swim-in-able lake.
posted by rhiannonstone to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bass lake.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:05 PM on September 7, 2013


I've been tent camping at Kangaroo Lake a couple of times and I enjoyed it. Most of the drive in campsites are not on the lake — you have to walk a little bit.

Once when I was swimming there a Bald Eagle tried to grab a fish from the water maybe 50 feet from me.

Is there anything in particular that would make a lake non-swimmable for you? Altitude or cold? Kangaroo Lake is up around 6000 feet, and I swam in lakes at Glacier National Park, so my standards may not be the same as yours.
posted by Renegade Duck at 4:15 PM on September 7, 2013


Cold's not a huge issue for me, but what I really want is to spend a lot of time in the water, relaxing, so I'm not looking for something too challenging. Basically if it's a lake that's generally regarded by local humans as a place to go swimming during warm weather, then it fits my criteria.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:22 PM on September 7, 2013


Just out of Redding is Whiskeytown, er, reservoir (or some such). It was lovely, and not cold, and had swimming beaches with many happy families.
posted by carterk at 4:30 PM on September 7, 2013


Went to Loon Lake up near Tahoe/Desolation Wilderness earlier this summer and loved it--great hiking and beautiful water to jump in once you drag your sweaty self back to the campsite. The mosquito situation was hellish for about an hour around dusk but worth it overall.
posted by lovableiago at 4:44 PM on September 7, 2013


Swimmer's Delight (Van Duzen County Park) in Humboldt Count is awesome. It's a river, but slows to make a wonderful swimming hole. Sometimes there are little salamanders in the water that swim with you!
posted by auntie maim at 5:02 PM on September 7, 2013


I'm trying hard to think of a lake in NorCal that's NOT "generally regarded by local humans as a place to go swimming during warm weather."
posted by bricoleur at 5:27 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If we're counting rivers, then you should know about Chico. Bidwell park
posted by notned at 5:59 PM on September 7, 2013


Sorry I you can't camp on the river.
posted by notned at 6:14 PM on September 7, 2013


There's camping at Kirkwood Lake, though only twelve sites. The lake is beautiful but I stayed in a friend's old cabin so don't know about the camping except that it was close by the lake.
posted by anadem at 7:15 PM on September 7, 2013


There are a few private camping options at Blue Lakes. Love the swimming there, although have never done camping.
posted by Wavelet at 1:24 PM on September 8, 2013


lovableiago: "Went to Loon Lake up near Tahoe/Desolation Wilderness earlier this summer and loved it--great hiking and beautiful water to jump in once you drag your sweaty self back to the campsite. The mosquito situation was hellish for about an hour around dusk but worth it overall."

See also Union Valley Reservoir (BIG, numerous campgrounds) and Ice House Reservoir (tiny, only a few campgrounds). With Loon Lake these three are the main lakes in the Crystal Basin Recreation Area and are all very easy to get to off of Highway 50. Loon Lake is right at the tree line and is gorgeous. You can camp lakeside at all three, but right now levels are probably low. Just means there is a little bit of a walk to the water, but it is still very nice and pretty clear. Ice House was pretty low a few weeks ago when we went but still usable. You can check ReserveAmerica for availability, however now that it has past Labor Day some of the campgrounds are closed or have converted to first come first served. Here is the campground we usually stay at when at Union Valley.

As hot as it still is here in Sacramento it's probably really nice up there temp wise.
posted by Big_B at 9:32 AM on September 9, 2013


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