California's Greatest Lakes

Donner Lake, CA
Donner Lake, CA

California's Greatest Lakes

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So Many Beautiful Lakes to Enjoy

Fallen Leaf Lake, El Dorado County, California

Fallen Leaf Lake

Fallen Leaf Lake rests in a narrow, glacier-sculpted valley west of Lake Tahoe and only a few miles from Emerald Bay.

Huntington Lake, Fresno County, California

Huntington Lake

East of Fresno, Huntington Lake draws vacationers to its forested shores and sparkling waters every summer.

June Lake, Mono County, California

June Lake

Known for spectacular fishing, June Lake and its sister lakes in the June Lake Loop are a popular destination in the Eastern Sierra.

Mammoth Lakes, Mono County, California

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes are perhaps the most beautiful in the Eastern Sierra. Fishing, camping, hiking, skiing, and just plain relaxing attract visitors year-round.

Five Star Rating System

5 stars

What makes a 5 Star Lake?

Stars are based on the variety, quality, and quantity of services and recreation activities available, along with a nod to the lake's overall ambiance. Low stars do not mean that the services provided at a particular lake are poor, only that they are limited.

Fewer stars can often be a positive.

2 stars

Anglers seeking quiet waters probably don't want a 5-star boating lake full of jet skiers and water skiers. Campers looking for a back-to-nature retreat likely would want to avoid a lake ringed with resorts and motels.

What makes the perfect lake? It all depends on what you are looking for.

Which Lakes Earned the Most Stars?

  1. Shasta Lake - 28

  2. Lake Tahoe - 26

  3. Big Bear Lake - 24

  4. Mammoth Lakes - 24

  5. Lake Havasu - 23

  6. Trinity Lake - 23

  7. Lake Almanor - 23

  8. Shaver Lake - 23

  9. June Lakes Loop - 22

  10. Lake Oroville - 21

These lakes earned high overall stars because they offer a wide variety of quality boating, camping and fishing. Find the best lake for you by exploring California's Greatest Lakes.

California's Lakes Have Something for Everyone

Photo of Water Skiing

Waterskiing, Wakeboarding, and every other kind of thrill-seeking adventure on the end of a tow rope. California lakes are home to some of the greatest excitement on water, from the glassy channels of Lake Havasu to the winding arms of Shasta Lake.

Photo of Jet Ski

  • Jet Skis
  • Ski Boats
  • Sailboats
  • Houseboats
  • Classic Wooden Boats

Whatever your pleasure, there's likely a great lake to suit your needs within easy driving distance. Some lakes buzz with jet skis and wakeboarding boats, while other lakes spread in restful quiet with the only sounds the rustle of the wind in the trees and the swish of a paddle. Find the right lake for you. We have all the best ones right here on California's Greatest Lakes.

Photo of family with fish at lake, CA

Fishing is good at virtually every one of California's Greatest Lakes. Bass anglers favor the warmer lakes where largemouth bass and stripers grow to trophy size and keep calling the fishermen back again and again.

Other sportsmen would rather go after the colder water Kokanee salmon and trout. Some of the lakes are home to almost every species of fish found in the state while others like Eagle Lake specialize in one particular fish. You'll find the best lake for you right here.

Family Days

Photo of family sitting on dock at lake, CA

Take a family outing to the lake for camping, picnicking, swimming, sports, and hiking.
Choose the lake to suit your family. Some lakes like Big Bear Lake and Bass Lake seem as if they were planned just for families. At many lakes you'll find a wide choice of comfortable campgrounds, easy to access boat rentals, sandy beaches, spectacular scenery, and a myriad of activities available around the shore. Some of the best lakes have programs specially designed for children from water skiing camps to Junior Rangers programs.