Lake Sonoma, California, USA
Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Sonoma — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!
Topics we cover in this article:
- All About Lake Sonoma
- Things to Do
- Fish Species
- Where to Stay
- Vacation Planning Tools
- Lake Sonoma Map
- Statistics / Weather / Helpful Links
- Shop Lake Sonoma Gifts
Looking for Lake Sonoma cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.
All About Lake Sonoma
In 1983 the US Army Corps of Engineers completed the Warm Springs Dam, and the almost limitless recreation opportunities of Sonoma County California expanded to include Lake Sonoma. With its fantastic fishing, boating, and water sports and the beauty of the surrounding wine country, the 2700-acre Lake Sonoma is truly a vacation destination.
Construction on the Warm Springs Dam began in 1975 and was completed 1983. The earth fill dam was built in the Dry Creek Valley at the confluence of Warm Springs Creek and Dry Creek – a tributary of the Russian River. Lake Sonoma, the resulting impoundment, was built for flood control, irrigation, water for municipalities and recreation. Water levels in Lake Sonoma fluctuate based on the amount of winter precipitation and Russian River inflows, so check current lake levels before your visit.
The dam blocks the migration of some of the native steelhead trout and Coho salmon. To replace some of the lost fish, the California Department of Fish and Game operates the Congressman Don Clausen Fish Hatchery behind the dam on Lake Sonoma. The hatchery raises steelhead yearlings along with Chinook and silver salmon.
Lake Sonoma is best known for its largemouth bass fishing. The lake also has healthy populations of smallmouth bass, black crappie, redear sunfish, Sacramento perch, and channel catfish. The submerged trees from the flooding of the lake provide excellent fish habitat.
There are boat ramps and a marina; visitors to Lake Sonoma can explore the water from a canoe, sailboat, or motorboat. Water skiing is also popular on the lake, but only in specified areas. There are some boat-in campsites, campgrounds, and primitive camping along some of the trails. There are almost 40 miles of trails near Lake Sonoma for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, including a trail to the Lake Sonoma Overlook. The overlook offers an almost 360 degree view of Lake Sonoma and the Dry Creek Valley.
Feral pigs left over from the early European American settlers live in the area around Lake Sonoma. Hunting, including archery, for the pigs along with deer and turkey is allowed in the Lake Sonoma Wildlife Area. Made up of 8,000 acres of oak woodland surrounding the lake, the Wildlife Area is a joint venture of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Game. Peregrine Falcons have also been sighted near the lake. In addition to the wildlife, there are beautiful wildflowers from early spring to early summer. Lupines, Indian pink, and California poppies all put on a show.
The Warms Springs Recreation Area near Lake Sonoma has a picnic area with a group pavilion. There is plenty of room for a family reunion or any group outing. The Milt Brandt Visitor Center is open year round and has exhibits about the construction of the dam and the filling of Lake Sonoma, as well as the history of the Dry Creek Valley and the Pomo Indians. The Pomo Indians were the original inhabitants of the valley and have a rich tradition of basket making.
Lake Sonoma is 50 miles north of San Francisco and 13 miles from Healdsburg. Sonoma County has nearly any amenity that a visitor could want including many restaurants and lodging options. The 200,000 acre Sonoma County extends from the Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains. Vineyards make up 65,000 acres and there are over 250 wineries including 120 around the Russian River alone. Russian settlers planted the first grapes as early as 1812. Today about 190,000 tons of grapes are produced in Sonoma County each year.
In addition to the water sports, fishing, wildlife and wine tasting, visitors to Lake Sonoma can stand in the shadow of the giant redwoods some of which are over 300 feet tall and 1,400 years old. A trip to Lake Sonoma is as varied as Sonoma County itself with something to please everyone.
Things to Do at Lake Sonoma
- Vacation Rentals
- Water Skiing
- Horseback Riding
- Wildlife Viewing
Fish Species Found at Lake Sonoma
- Black Bass
- Black Crappie
- Channel Catfish
- Chinook Salmon
- Coho Salmon
- Largemouth Bass
- Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
- Sacramento Perch
- Smallmouth Bass
- Steelhead Trout
Find Places to Stay at Lake Sonoma
If you’re considering a Lake Sonoma lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.
Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Sonoma Vacation
If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Sonoma lodging partners.
- VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
- Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
- Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
- Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
- TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
- Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
- KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
- RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
- CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.
Lake Sonoma Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Surface Area: 2,700 acres
Shoreline Length: 53 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 451 feet
Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 292 feet
Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 495 feet
Water Volume: 245,000 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1983
Water Residence Time: 280 days
Drainage Area: 130 sq. miles
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