Return Home | Books | Mail Bag | Itinerary | About The Author | Beating The Time Trap | Contact Us

Tom Stienstra

Return Home
The Books
Mail Bag
About The Author
Words Of Wisdom
Contact Us

July 6, 1999 - Top 5s & 10s From California Boating

Click here for the current Week's Pick!


1. Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
If you are looking for one of the best outdoor experiences on the planet, try boating in Emerald Bay followed by a stay at one of its boat-in campsites. With a boat you can do more than just stare in awe at the clear, cobalt blue waters and the nearby mountain rim; you can surround yourself with this incomparable beauty. And with a boat-in camp, you can wake up in the middle of it all, too.

2. Santa Rosa Island
The "Painted Caves" of Santa Rosa Island make this a world-class destination for kayakers, as well as an ideal camping spot, from Friday through Sunday. Because the boat ride to Santa Rosa takes longer than the one to Santa Cruz Island, this place is often overlooked by visitors who are on a one-day round-trip adventure, making it extra special.

3. Englebright Lake
Boaters have access to a rare bonanza here: 17 boat-in campsites that provide both privacy and beautiful views. The reservoir, which covers just 815 acres yet offers 24 miles of shoreline, looks something like a water snake winding its way through the Yuba River Canyon. It is set in the Yuba County foothills at about a 500-foot elevation.

4. Bullards Bar Reservoir
Bullards Bar Reservoir stands out like a silver dollar in a field of pennies when compared to the other reservoirs in the Central Valley foothills. Not only are there two boat-in campgrounds, but boaters are allowed to create their own primitive campsites anywhere along the lakeshore (a chemical toilet is required).

5. Stone Lagoon
Stone Lagoon covers 521 acres and has a visitors center and a primitive boat ramp located at the parking area along the west side of U.S. 101. From here you plunk into your canoe, wide-bodied kayak, or dinghy, then paddle or sail over to Ryan's Cove, which is straight across the lake and out of sight of the highway. There you will find a great, secluded boat-in campground with sites dispersed along 300 yards of shoreline.

6. Silverwood Lake
When full to the brim, Silverwood covers 1,000 acres and has 13 miles of shoreline. It is set at an elevation of 3,378 feet, and is bordered by San Bernardino National Forest to the south and the high desert to the north. The proximity to San Bernardino makes this place very popular with boaters, especially during hot summers. Hike-in and bike-in campsites are a unique bonus.

7. Gaviota State Park
Even though Gaviota State Park is set on a beautiful and spectacular stretch of the California coast, it falls short of a perfect 10 rating due to the poor boating access. All that's provided is a hoist and a hook, nothing more. But those who come prepared will have the chance to experience outstanding camping and coastal boating. So there you have it, a lovely piece of Central California coastline and a state park that receives moderate use year-round.

8. Lake Sonoma
Lake Sonoma is one of the best boater/camper destinations around. A 5 mph speed limit and no-wake zones have been established in many areas of the lake, a setup that guarantees peace and quiet, excellent swimming, and fishing while retaining a huge area of water for waterskiing. Add to that the 14 boat-in camps, and it's hard to top.

9. Trinity Lake
You can rent houseboats, stay in cabins (Cedar Stock Resort), or head out on the water and set up camp at a boat-in site (several good camps are available, including one at Captain's Point on the west shore of the Trinity River Arm). The lake is set at a 2,300-foot elevation at the eastern foot of the Trinity Alps and covers 17,000 acres, huge enough to accommodate all types of water sports, including waterskiing, Jet Skiing, windsurfing, and fishing, yet distant enough that it rarely attracts large numbers of boaters.

10. Klamath River
(Sarah Totten Campground to Happy Camp)
One spring week in March, I rafted the entire river at flood stage, from its headwaters in Oregon all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The 36-mile downstream stretch from Sarah Totten Campground is ideal for rafting, and there are private beaches where you are permitted to camp. The area is abundant with living creatures, not only fish but many species of birds and other wildlife. The river dishes out just enough excitement to set your heart racing, yet has plenty of flat water so you can catch your breath or beach the boat and go swimming.

Return Home | Books | Mail Bag | Itinerary | About The Author | Beating The Time Trap | Contact Us

© 1999-2002 Tom Stienstra

Web management by Kim Solga Artworks