Don Pedro Lake, California, USA
Also known as: Lake Don Pedro, Don Pedro Reservoir
Don Pedro Lake, also known as Don Pedro Reservoir and Lake Don Pedro, is nestled into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. With a surface area of nearly 13,000 acres, Lake Don Pedro is the fifth largest reservoir according to capacity in California. Today, it is used for agricultural irrigation, drinking water, hydropower generation, and the incredible recreation choices that it offers visitors. The Don Pedro Dam, located on the Tuolumne River, is owned jointly by the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts.
As one of the state’s premier recreational lakes, your days at Don Pedro Lake will be filled with swimming, fishing, hiking, and water sports. Located just two hours south of Sacramento and 40 miles west of Yosemite, you’ll find that a vacation at the lake is as convenient as it is enjoyable.
One of the best ways to start your visit is in a boat, drinking in the beauty and getting to know the layout of the reservoir. Rent a boat or bring your own, and launch from one of the three public boat ramps. You’ll notice how popular these boat launches are: the Irrigation Districts own all land 15 feet above the high lake level, which has prohibited the construction of any private docks. All types of boating are engaged in at Don Pedro Lake. Power boats pull water skiers, tubers and wakeboards while jet skis race the length of the lake.
During your initial tour of Don Pedro Reservoir, you’ll notice anglers with their lines in the water. There is a year-round open season on all fish in the lake, which include black bass, bluegill, brook trout, crappie, catfish, king salmon, kokanee salmon, and rainbow trout, many of which are stocked. Fishing is most enjoyable in spring and winter, when the lake is still calm and the influx of summer visitors has yet to begin. However, the fish bite year-round, and the catches are so good that many anglers swear their undying loyalty to this California fishing jewel. As always, make sure you have a valid California fishing license before you arrive.
If you love the outdoors and would like to get a little more involved, there are over 100 miles of horseback riding and hiking trails for you to enjoy. Walk through the forest, discover favorite lookouts, photograph beautiful and interesting flora, and observe the area mule deer, raccoons, coyote, fox, and Golden and Bald eagles interact within their natural habitat.
Though there are many places to stay around Lake Don Pedro, one of the most unique options is your own houseboat. Imagine going to sleep with the moon reflecting on the lake outside your window, and waking up to the beauty of an orange sunrise, as tiny waves lap at your boat. There are several houseboat options at the lake, ranging from 50 feet to 70 feet, and each one will give you a front row seat to the 24-hour beauty of the lake.
Camping is also very popular at Don Pedro Lake with three campgrounds: Fleming Meadows, Moccasin Point, and Blue Oaks. The campgrounds offer group camping, tent camping, RV camping, plus day-use picnic areas and sandy beach swimming.
Nestled into the dramatic Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Don Pedro is a hidden jewel that you won’t want to miss, so make your plans, pack your bags, and start enjoying the great offerings of this central California reservoir.
Things to do at Don Pedro Lake
- Vacation Rentals
- Jet Skiing
- Water Skiing
- Horseback Riding
- Wildlife Viewing
Fish species found at Don Pedro Lake
- Black Bass
- Brook Trout
- Chinook Salmon
- Kokanee Salmon
- Rainbow Trout
Don Pedro Lake Photo Gallery
Don Pedro Lake Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts
Surface Area: 12,900 acres
Shoreline Length: 160 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 804 feet
Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 600 feet
Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 830 feet
Average Depth: 121 feet
Water Volume: 2,030,000 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1971
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