Diamond Valley Lake, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - Inland Empire -

Also known as:  Diamond Valley Reservoir

Diamond Valley Lake lies between two mountains in California’s Inland Empire tourism region. The 4,500-acre lake is Southern California’s newest and largest reservoir. It has only been at full pond since 2002 and already has been crowned the “Jewel” of California lakes, with a reputation for excellent fishing.

The Metropolitan Water District created Diamond Valley Lake mainly as an emergency source of water. Three earth-core rock-filled dams were built to create the lake; this type of construction uses materials available within the project’s borders. The construction of the West Dam, East Dam and the Saddle Dam is one the largest earthwork projects in the history of the United States. The West Dam is 285 feet high, 9,100 feet long and 1200 feet wide at its base and spans 40 feet at its crest. The East Dam is 185 feet high, 10,500 long, 800 feet wide at the base and 40 feet wide at the crest. The smallest dam is the Saddle Dam, measuring 130 feet high, 2,300 feet long, 720 wide at the base and at the crest it is 40 feet wide.

Excavation began in 1995 and construction started a year later. There are some big numbers associated with this construction project: More than 5000 people were employed during the course of this project. Caterpillar 789 Model trucks were used to build Diamond Valley Lake’s East Dam — these trucks are so big — 40 feet by 20 feet — that they could not be driven on public streets. They were brought to the site in pieces and assembled at the reservoir. When full of rock they weighed 350 tons. The entire lake project cost nearly two billion dollars.

The Diamond and Domenigoni valleys, southwest of the City of Hemet, have a reputation for fossil finds and the area has been affectionately named the Valley of the Mastodons. During the excavation for the dams the bones and skeletons of extinct mastodons, mammoth, camel, sloth and long-horned bison were uncovered. Many paleontogists and archaeologists say the find rivals that of the famous La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

A visit to Diamond Valley Lake should also include a stop at the Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology. There you can see some of the finds from the Diamond Valley Reservoir construction. The exhibitions range in age from 230,000 years old to modern finds. As you enter the museum, you pass through geological time lines and can play the “dating game” in the Discovery Lab — learn how these fossils made it from the field to the museum. Visitors can also compare themselves to the animals that use to roam the area: a 10-foot mastodon and a 12-foot mammoth.

Chances are that if you are heading to Diamond Valley Lake, you are doing so to fish. The department of Game and Fish started stocking the lake with the best largemouth bass it could find as soon as the lake was deep enough to support the fish. The lake opened to fishing in October 2003. Growth of lake fish populations has been unmatched so Diamond Valley Lake has quickly become a premier fishing spot for bass and trout in Southern California.

In addition to largemouth bass and rainbow trout, Diamond Valley Lake is home to blue gill, catfish, crappie, pan fish, smallmouth bass, and striped bass. The record largemouth bass, reeled in back in 2007, weighed in at more than 16 pounds. If you area hoping to catch a rainbow trout you can bank on a six-to-ten-pound fish. An angler pulled in the lake’s record trout from the shore — it tipped the scales at 11.3 pounds. A striped bass holds the record for the largest fish caught in DVL; snagged in 2005, that one weighed 29.77 pounds.

Diamond Valley Lake can handle about 300 boats at one time but with ongoing drought and lack of recreational development, it rarely reaches that traffic level. Currently there are boating restrictions due to low water levels and a quagga/zebra mussel infestation. For current conditions, check with the California Department of Game and Fish before your visit.

In October 2008, private boat launches were suspended because the water level on Diamond Valley Lake dropped below the concrete boat ramp. In July 2009, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced it would extend part of the boat ramp and reopen by February 2010, just in time for the spawning bass season. Fisherman have still been cruising the lake by using the Diamond Valley Marina rental fleet.

You can also fish by land. When the MWD closed the lake to private boats, it increased the amount of shoreline open to anglers to 6.5 miles — this stretch of shoreline is northwest of the marina boat ramp. You will need a reservation because there is limited parking and should repare for some rugged terrain, as well. Shoreline fishing on Diamond Valley Lake offers beautiful mountain views from private coves and has signs marking well the area designated for shoreline fishing.

Swimming and personal watercrafts are not allowed on Diamond Valley Lake. Kayaks and canoes that meet lake guidelines for quagga/zebra mussel prevention are allowed to launch as long as the water level is high enough for boarding from the docks.

Hiking and biking is another way to enjoy lake and mountain vistas of Diamond Valley Lake, as well as the great volume of wildflowers that naturally decorate the area. Visitors are encouraged to hike or bike the Lake View Trail. The 21.8-mile loop around the lake takes hikers over the three dams and offers amazing lake views. The six-mile North Hills Trail is open to hikers and equestrians; this trail offers breathtaking views of the San Jacinto Valley. Both trails meander through the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve. The 13,500-acre reserve surrounds the lake and is home to at least 16 sensitive, endangered or threatened native California animals and plants.

Stray a short distance from Diamond Valley Lake and a unique camping opportunity waits. Camping by permit is available at Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness Park. A permit is required to protect the sensitive eco system of the area. Mount San Jacinto is the second highest mountain range in Southern California. The growing season is short because of the high altitude. Plant life has little opportunity to recover from overuse from one season to the next, so steps need to be taken to protect these areas so they are not lost forever. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway starts in Chino Canyon near Palm Springs. The tram takes passengers from Valley Station at 2,643 feet elevation to an elevation of 8516 feet at Mountain Station on the edge of the wilderness. Mountain Station features a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar, and the state park visitor center. A short walk from the station will take you to Long Valley and the Long Valley Ranger Station. There you will find a picnic area with barbecue stoves and restrooms, a ski center, a self-guiding nature trail, and Desert View Trail which offers panoramas of the high country including several peaks over 10,000 feet in elevation. You can also enter the hiking trail system from this point. Pacific Crest Trail, the gem of America’s scenic trails, spans 2650 miles from Mexico to Canada. It runs through three western states and passes through five California state parks including Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness Park.

Some of the oldest National Forest Land is near Diamond Valley Lake. The San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountain Ranges were designated a National Forest more than a hundred years ago. In the present, the San Bernardino National Forest is Southern California’s year-around outdoor recreation destination. Mountain biking, ATV trails, fishing, camping hiking and wildlife viewing are just some of the activities the Park has to offer. The San Bernardino National Forest has three Ranger Districts on nearly 677,000 acres in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Travel south of Diamond Valley Lake to visit Palomar Mountain State Park. More spectacular views of the Pacific can be taken in at the 1862-acre state park. Palomar Mountain State Park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and trout fishing in Doane Pond. Call in advance to find out what areas of the park are open. Budget cuts have prompted the closing of the Doane Valley Campground, Doane Valley day use area, including the Doane Pond, Cedar Grove Group Camp and Boucher Lookout from November 30th to March 31st. All trails in the park are also closed during this time.

Diamond Valley Lake is located in the City of Hemet. In addition to the marina, trails, museum and nature reserve, there is an aquatic center. The pool has a “beach entry” at the shallow end and gradually deepens to seven feet. There is a children’s play area with waterspouts and waterfalls in the shallow end and a 24-foot water slide at the other end. Continued development is planned in the lake area, including a residential development, restaurants and shops. Area vacation rentals come in the form of cabins to hillside mansions and, if you like the area, the City of Hemet and Riverside County have real estate available for purchase.

Diamond Valley Lake sits in the middle of a wilderness. It offers a chance to connect to your wild side yet is close enough to civilization to provide all the creature comforts and culture a person could need. Come and enjoy.

Things to do at Diamond Valley Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Diamond Valley Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Trout

Diamond Valley Lake Photo Gallery

Diamond Valley Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Metrolpolitan Water District

Surface Area: 4,500 acres

Shoreline Length: 26 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,678 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,756 feet

Average Depth: 178 feet

Maximum Depth: 260 feet

Water Volume: 800,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1999

Drainage Area: 13 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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