July 6, 1999 - Top 5s & 10s From
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BEST BOAT-IN CAMPING
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.
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