Clear Lake, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - North Coast -

Clear Lake’s spectacular 43,785 acres earn it the superlative of largest natural freshwater lake located entirely within the state of California. This unique natural reservoir is also thought to be one of the oldest lakes in North America – at 480,000 years or more – and it contains several underwater volcanoes. Clear Lake’s large surface acreage, 127 miles of shoreline, and diverse natural beauty make it a very popular California vacation spot.

The waters of Clear Lake flow into Cache Creek, whose narrow channel has limited discharge capacity during periods of heavy rain. Lake County Water Resources Division operates the Cache Creek Dam, constructed in 1914, to regulate lake levels and control downstream flooding. [Clear Lake should not be confused with Clear Lake Reservoir, located near the Oregon border in Modoc County, California.]

Water lovers will find “seventh heaven” at Clear Lake. Swimming, sailing, water skiing, knee boarding, jet skiing, boating, kayaking, fishing, and nearly anything else you can do on a large lake are popular here. Rent a boat – or bring your own and take advantage of public boat launches scattered around the lake. Boaters can explore all the coves and shoreline, plus many “hidden” spots you can uncover if you have the time.

Anglers flock to the lake, hoping to prove its nickname “Bass Capital of the West.” In addition to the crappie, bluegill, yellow and blue channel catfish, and rainbow trout that make their home in the lake’s blue depths, the California Department of Fish and Game keeps the Clear Lake largemouth bass population bountiful by farming and stocking them. Plan at least a day or two on the water, pursuing the best bass catch of your life. Be sure to get a California fishing license before you get here; you can’t fish without one. Anglers and their families should follow the California Sport Fish Consumption Advisories, available at *** URL REMOVED *** fish/pdf/99broch7.pdf.

Clear Lake State Park is the perfect starting point for your vacation, with previews of the best that the lake has to offer. Begin your day with a trip to the visitors’ center to learn a bit about the park and the lake. Next, take a hike to get acquainted with the park, walking along the several miles of well-groomed hiking trails. Follow your hike with a cool dip in the lake, relaxing on the park’s beach between swims. And when you’ve tuckered yourself out, enjoy a picnic under the cottonwoods and oaks, enjoying the gentle lap of the water and the chorus of birds in the trees.

You may notice the sight and smell of algae when visiting Clear Lake, particularly during spring and late summer. An increase in chemical nutrients in the ecosystem, known as eutrophication, sometimes produces blooms of blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria). Many authorities believe that cyanobacteria are a natural part of the ecosystem and the lake’s food chain. Although swimming in algae blooms is strongly discouraged – for humans and their pets – ongoing water quality monitoring demonstrates that Clear Lake is usually safe for swimming and fishing.

Bird watchers will be delighted by the great variety of birds that make Clear Lake and Lake County their home. Keep your eyes and ears open – and bring your binoculars. Set some time aside to rent a kayak and paddle out into the clear, still waters of Clear Lake’s coves to catch a glimpse of belted kingfishers, black-crowned night herons, Clark’s grebes, great blue herons, green herons, killdeer, osprey, and western grebes. On land, search the skies and trees for acorn woodpeckers, brown towhees, California quails, California thrashers, common flickers, oak titmice, red-tailed hawks, scrub jays, and white-breasted nuthatches.

After a great day out on the water, you can share a romantic dinner on the Clear Lake Queen, a three-story riverboat. Elegant dining combined with stunning sunsets will help you wind down your day as you appreciate the beauty of the lake at nighttime, with the moon as its only illumination.

Located in the heart of Lake County, just two hours from the San Francisco Bay area, the northern California region is becoming increasingly popular as a wine tasting destination. More than 15 wineries dot the rolling countryside, flanked by green Mt. Konocti and offering opportunities to sip wine, indulge in fine dining, tour vineyards, and learn about the process of making the wine that you will enjoy throughout your vacation.

Clear Lake offers myriad activities for lakelubbers and landlubbers alike, delivering on the promise of a vacation that will satisfy every family. Vacation rentals ranging from cozy cabins to large family homes are available on Clear Lake. Book your rental early to guarantee water-filled days, gorgeous sunsets, and peaceful nights.

Things to do at Clear Lake CA

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Clear Lake CA

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Clear Lake CA Photo Gallery

Clear Lake CA Statistics & Helpful Links

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Water Level Control: Lake County Water Resources Division

Surface Area: 43,785 acres

Shoreline Length: 127 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,326 feet

Average Depth: 27 feet

Maximum Depth: 60 feet

Water Volume: 1,155,000 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 528 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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