New Melones Lake offers all varieties of recreation -- water skiing, fishing, boating, and camping. It is the fourth largest reservoir in California, providing ample space for visitors to spread out.
Located on the Stanislaus River just 9 miles from Sonora, New Melones Lake makes a convenient destination for people living in central California, from Merced to Sacramento and west to the Bay Area. The reservoir is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation.
There is an entrance gate that closes at night. Although you can exit at any time, be sure to check the hours the gate is open when planning your arrival. From May 1 to September 30 the gate is closed from 11:00 PM to 4:00 AM. In April and October it closes at 10:00 PM and from November 1 - March 31, 9:00 PM.
New Melones Lake is popular with boaters who like to spread out and explore long twisting arms or dip into secluded bays. Smooth water is great for water skiing, wake boarding, and jet skiing. Houseboats are common on the lake as well as sailboats, kayaks, canoes, and rafts.
New Melones Lake Marina is the only one on the lake. They provide everything a boater would need from dockside fuel to boat rentals, from slips and moorings to launch ramps. There are 6 launch ramps located around the lake, although they can become a little bit congested on holiday weekends. Overnight vehicle and trailer parking is allowed at any launch ramp.
New Melones Lake rewards all kinds of anglers. Bass fishermen will find a good population of small and largemouths, while trout enthusiasts will land both brown and rainbows. Other fish in the lake include catfish, crappies, and bluegill.
There are two major campground areas located on New Melones Lake, one in the Tuttletown Recreation Area and the other at the Glory Hole Recreation Area. Tuttletown has three campgrounds and Glory Hole has two. There are a number of private RV parks and campgrounds along the Highway 49 corridor near New Melones Lake.
There is no lodging right at New Melones Lake, but ample lodging at reasonable prices can be found in nearby Columbia, Sonora, Angels Camp, and Murphys.
New Melones Lake resembles many of California's other foothill reservoirs. Scattered oaks dot the surrounding hills. In late summer as water levels drop, expanses of barren shore begin to appear. The Highway 49 bridge and the Parrott's Ferry bridge across the lake provide a dramatic scenes for boaters exploring the main Stanislaus arm.
Nine miles to the south of the lake are the gold rush towns of Columbia and Sonora. Columbia is now a State Park, open to the public without charge. Both communities are rich in history. To the north is Angels Camp, home of the famous Jumping Frog contest held every May. And just a few miles east of Angels lies Murphys, another gold rush town with something of interest always going on. Only a short distance to the west is the grand city of Stockton.
Stockton is home to beautiful shaded parks, professional sports, the Stockton waterfront, art and music, and the University of the Pacific and Delta College. Discover it all on our sister website Stockton Treasures.
|Lake Size:||12,500 surface acres|
|Maximum Depth:||565 feet|
|Lake Spillway Elevation:||1088 feet|
|Normal Lake Elevation:||1049 feet|
|Average High Air Temperatures|
|Summer Water Temperature:||75 degrees|
Sunshine Rafting Adventures provides affordable, family-friendly rafting trips on the Stanislaus River out of Knights Ferry, CA. These class I-II self-guided trips last 3-5 hours and consist of a 7.5-mile float down the scenic Stanislaus River. Paddles, life jackets, boats, shuttle and parking are all included. Find more at Knights Ferry Rafting.
Many opportunities for recreation activities are available at New Melones Lake. The Visitors Center next to Highway 49 on the south side of the bridge is a good place to begin. Among the activities offered at New Melones are
Close to the lake are many other recreation destinations such as Moaning Caverns, Columbia State Historic Park, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.
For a complete listing of Recreation activities around New Melones Lake, see
New Melones Lake Recreation