California's Great Lakes Photos & Information

Having returned recently from one of the largest bodies of lakes in the US, the Great Lakes, and Lake Erie specifically, it struck me that we have some "great" lakes in California, too.

From the summer boat rides and water skiing on Big Bear Lake, a Southern California weekend getaway favorites for Southern Californians, to the newest fishing spot that serves as a water reservoir, Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet, the good times never end when there's a lake nearby.

A reflective season is the autumn. At California's Central Valley lakes, the wildlife and expansive lands surrounding pounds and bodies of water make not only beautiful photos, but an experience to inspire as Californians and vacationers enter the mild, cool winters of the Central Valley.

Having grown up in the midwest, our lakes were the best it gets for summer water sports entertainment. Some were muddy, some were clean. Some had snakes and some were green.  But what the lakes all offered were sports fishing, boating, swimming and beautiful reflections to break up the landscape.

In California, there's quite a bit to crow about with the awesome lakes our state provides. Shasta Lake is a house boater's paradise. In the summer months when the region gets so hot you think you'll never see another cool day in your life, that's when Lake Shasta comes to the rescue with its temperate waters that bring relief to all who enjoy the reddish-mountains and tall green pines that surround the heavenly body.

Several natural wonders in Northern California include lakes within Lassen Volcanic National Park. With names like Bumpass Hell, some are filled with boiling springs, steam vents and mud pots and are not conducive to anything but looking and watching.

Burney Falls is a national landmark and spectacular to see. Just an hour or two from Lassen, we have to thank our friends in Redding for teaching us about their beautiful lakes that make this part of California a perfect drive trip opportunity. Whiskeytown Lake in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is one of the few we've seen where they supply you with the kayaks and teach you lessons free. In the summer the lake can be nearly as hot as the outside air that stand at 100 degrees for nearly an entire month. Locals love it!

Lake Tahoe holds many distinctions, not just because it is surrounded by so much entertainment. Home to winter skiing and summer fun, several cities that surround the lake are tourist attractions, with South Lake Tahoe being the most prominent. Casino gambling at Stateline, Nevada right next to the lake, golf courses, beaches and of course the lovely winters all make Lake Tahoe a must-see on any California vacation.

Just north of Santa Barbara, a steep drive up the hills, lies Cachuma Lake. This lake has seem much dry weather, causing its size to diminish greatly in recent years.  But it's a beautiful lake where people like to camp, fish or even sleep in a yurt. For drives between Southern California and the Central Coast, veer off Highway 101 to Cachuma Lake. There are several spots where you can pull over at vistas and simply look. Or you can pay the fee to park in the recreation area and go fishing, hiking, or spend a while enjoying its beauty.

The Central Coast is known for many stunning, useful, popular and easty-to-find lakes. Oso Flaco Lake near the Guadalupe sand dunes that were used in the film "The Ten Commandments" features a natural environment and habitat where you may see little bobcats, coyotes and endangered birds.

One of the absolutely most stunning lakes to look at is Mono Lake.  If you've never seen this gem located in the desert, please take a peak at a marvelous photograph taken by fine arts photography Timothy Wolcott. This lake and Wolcott's work will blow you away.

Yosemite National Park has lakes on the valley floor. The best way to check them out is on a tour that runs daily. This narrated bus ride offers (when the weather is not too icy) an overview of the lakes, forests and mountains immortalized by the most famous photographer in the world, the late Ansel Adams. For a special treat, go at Christmas when it's often snowy and white. Part of your ritual will become the Bracebrigde Dinners that Adams helped launch.

In contrast to the rugged, rural lakes, Lake Merritt in Oakland , Lake Forest and Mission Viejo are Orange County communities with urban manmade lakes surrounded by houses. These types of lakes are very common in California, and serve a useful purpose.  Don't sneer at them until you've seen the beautiful homes that surround them. What they lack, however, are the settings such as mountains and forests that will take your breath away.

We've barely scratched the surface of California's great lakes. But beaches are so turbulent and have so many waves. Why not enjoy the best of California's lakes and discover a whole new side of vacationing in the Golden State.

Diamond Valley Lake picture
fisherman in Hemet
boat on Diamond Valley Lake


Oh, those great California Lakes!
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