Department of Water Resources Home

Locations: San Luis Reservoir & O'Neill Forebay

Scenic view of San Luis Reservoir Fishermen at San Luis Scenic view from shore of fishermen camping off shore View of Romero Visitor's center

San Luis Reservoir, located 12 miles west of the city of Los Banos near the historic Pacheco Pass, is part of the San Luis Joint-Use Complex, which serves the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Its recreational reservoirs include O'Neill Forebay, San Luis Reservoir, and Los Banos Reservoir. Completed in 1967, San Luis Reservoir is one of the nation's largest offstream reservoirs, meaning it has no watershed. Instead the reservoir stores water diverted from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for later deliveries to the Silicon Valley, San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and Southern California. Los Banos Reservoir is located on Los Banos Creek, about 7 miles southwest of Los Banos. It provides flood protection for San Luis Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal, City of Los Banos, and other downstream developments.

Directions: On Highway 152, seven miles west of Interstate 5; or 33 miles east of Highway 101 from Gilroy.

Activities: sail and power boating, wind surfing, fishing, swimming, hunting, hiking, bicycling, jet skiing, water skiing, camping, picnicking,

More Information: The San Luis State Recreation Area is administered by California State Parks. The Parks office is located at 31426 Gonzaga Road, Gustine, CA 95322, (209) 826-1197. You can also call 1-800-346-2711. The Romero Visitors Center is open daily except, until further notice, the center is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The center is also closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. For more information, call (209) 827-5353. Free admission. For TTY phone service, call (916) 653-6226.open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. There is no charge. For tour information, call (209) 827-5353.


The 65-mile shoreline of San Luis Reservoir is noted for boating, board sailing, camping and picnicking. However, fishing makes this area especially inviting. Trophy-size striped bass have been caught in the forebay. Many of the fish in San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay arrive through the California Aqueduct. Trout, crappie, bluegill, black bass, and catfish have been planted in Los Banos Reservoir. Even tiny Los Banos Reservoir, with only 620 surface acreas, offers great fishing.

Campsites are available along the O'Neill Forebay shoreline and at the Basalt area, which also has a boat launching ramp and a picnic area near the south end of Sisk Dam. On the west end of the reservoir, you'll find Dinosaur Point Boat Launching area.

Boaters should heed wind warning conditions mounted on the roof of the Romero Overlook Visitors Center, at the Basalt entrance station and at Quien Sabe Point. On O'Neill Forebay, wind warning lights are located at the Medeiros boat ramp and above the South Beach picnic area at San Luis Creek. A yellow light means you should exercise great care; a red light signals danger -- you should stay off or get out of the water.

In the Romero Visitors Center, located off Highway 152, photos, graphics wall displays, videos, and slide shows tell the story of why the San Luis Joint-Use Complex was developed and constructed to combine State-federal operations. Exhibits provide historical information on the region's water development and environmental impacts by State water operations. Others explain the federal Central Valley Project, the State Water Project, and its facilities. Telescopes on the visitor center's balcony offer spectacular views of the dam and reservoir.