Lake Oroville Recreation
Lake Oroville State Recreation Area
*Note: Fires have closed many Lake Oroville recreation facilities – please visit California State Parks' website for up-to-date information.
Lake Oroville, located roughly 75 miles north of Sacramento and 100 miles south of Redding in Northern California, sits behind the tallest dam in the United States. The lake has more than 167 miles of shoreline and offers camping, picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, sail and power boating, water-skiing, fishing and swimming. It's a favorite destination for thousands of visitors each year.
Explore the drop-down menu below to find out more about existing resources around and below Lake Oroville. Some facilities and trails are closed due to ongoing spillway construction and temporary housing for Butte County residents impacted by the Camp Fire.
Please call the Visitors Center for the most up-to-date information on openings and closures.
Lake Oroville is one of the State Water Project’s premier recreational destinations and one of California’s best fishing spots. The lake provides both warm-water and cold-water fisheries. Some of the fish that anglers can catch include Chinook salmon, spotted, largemouth, and smallmouth bass, crappie, blue gill and catfish. Below the Oroville Dam, the Thermalito Forebay, Thermalito Afterbay and the Feather River offer additional excellent fishing opportunities for Chinook salmon and steelhead. Steelhead, largemouth bass, spotted bass, red-ear sunfish, bluegill and catfish can also be found in the Thermalito Afterbay.
Check with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State Parks for up-to-date information on fishing license requirements, regulations and lake access. Sporting goods stores and outdoor outfitters in the town of Oroville are excellent sources of local knowledge and can help get you ready for a day on the lake or find fishing hotspots.
Fish in Lake Oroville include:
· Spotted bass — these are the most commonly caught fish at Lake Oroville
· Largemouth bass — although not as common as spotted bass, Lake Oroville’s largemouth bass are highly prized for their large size and fighting ability
· Chinook salmon — this popular sportfish is stocked annually in the lake
· Channel catfish — this abundant sportfish can grow to over 10 pounds
The Bidwell Complex, located along the southern shore of Lake Oroville east of the Oroville Dam, is one of the major attractions in the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. It’s a popular fishing and day use area as well as a base for many boaters. The location has drinking water, eight flush toilets (two are ADA accessible), a gray water sump, a seven-lane boat ramp, a telephone, a visitor information station, a full-service marina and a fish cleaning station.
The boat ramp provides access at the following elevations:
- 7 lanes to 850 feet
- 6 lanes to 802 feet
- 5 lanes to 735 feet
- 5 lanes between 745 feet and 700 feet
- 3 lanes between 717 feet and 660 feet
- 1 lane (gravel) below 660 feet
***Bidwell Canyon Campground is closed to the general public this recreation season because FEMA is providing temporary housing for Butte County residents impacted by the Camp Fire.
Bidwell Canyon Campground has 75 campsites for either tents or RVs, all with full hookups. There’s a seasonally staffed booth at the entrance to greet visitors and collect fees. Two flush restrooms, piped water, six showers, shade trees and fire rings with grills are available.
Phone: (530) 538-2218
801 Bidwell Canyon Road (off Arroyo Drive)
Oroville, CA 95966
More information is available on the State Parks website.
- Bidwell Canyon Trail [Use Designation: Bicycles, Hiking]: The 4.9-mile Bidwell Canyon Trail can be accessed from the Saddle Dam Trailhead or the Bidwell Canyon boat ramp parking area. The latter has 281 vehicle/trailer parking spaces.
- Wyk Island Trail [Use Designation: Hiking]: The Wyk Island Trail can be accessed from the Bidwell Canyon boat ramp parking and has 0.19 miles of trail for ADA accessibility. The trail provides a nature-oriented experience in a foothill setting. There are 281 vehicle/trailer parking spaces and six restroom stalls (two ADA accessible) at the Bidwell Canyon boat ramp.
Generally, the Bidwell Canyon facilities are available at high, medium and low reservoir levels. There’s parking for 281 vehicles/trailers (13 ADA) in the upper parking lot and 50 spaces (three ADA accessible) at Stage 3. 96 paved parking spaces (four ADA accessible at Stage 2 (medium) are under construction. The low water gravel ramp has an unpaved parking area with space for about 30 vehicles/trailers. The relocated historical Bidwell Bar Suspension Bridge and Bidwell Bridge Toll House are located adjacent to the boat ramp parking lot.
The concessionaire-run marina offers boat rentals, groceries, fishing supplies, a snack bar, approximately 280 berths and 400 mooring anchors, a fuel dock, a pumping station for boat holding tanks, boat storage and trailer facilities with hookups. Parking for 168 single vehicles is available at the marina when the lake is full. Over 100 additional single-vehicle parking spaces at the marina become available as the reservoir level recedes.
Loafer Creek facilities include a boat ramp and day use area with opportunities for swimming, picnicking and fishing. There are approximately 30 picnic tables (some ADA accessible), 17 BBQs (including several large group grills), shade trees, a swimming area with a beach at higher lake levels, eight flush toilets (all ADA accessible), drinking fountains, showers and parking for 251 vehicles, five of which are ADA accessible spaces. The best opportunities for use of the day use area are at reservoir levels from 900 down to about 850 feet.
The eight-lane boat ramp shares the same visitor information and fee collection booth as the other Loafer Creek attractions. The large parking area accommodates 192 vehicle/trailer combinations. The boat ramp provides access at the following elevations:
- 8 lanes to 800 feet
- 2 lanes to 775 feet
DWR will be constructing a new boat ramp facility at Loafer Point, located on the peninsula to the north of the Loafer Creek Day Use/picnic area.
Loafer Creek Campground: Loafer Creek Campground includes 137 campsites (six ADA accessible) for tents and RVs. There’s a staffed entrance booth for visitor information and fee collection. Campsites have tables, fire rings with grills, tent pads, shade trees and nearby drinking water. There are 20 flush toilets (12 ADA accessible), 16 showers with hot water, 12 gray water sumps and a telephone.
Loafer Creek Equestrian Campground: This area is located adjacent to the campground and group camp, sharing the staffed entrance booth for contacting visitors and fee collection. The equestrian camp has 15 sites, each with horse trailer parking, a fire ring with a cooking grill and a table. Additionally, each campsite has a corral to feed and secure horses. There are two flush toilets (one is ADA accessible) and two showers (one is ADA accessible). There is a horse washing area that can accommodate two horses at a time, and an equestrian exercise ring (50-foot round pen). The Roy Rogers Trail can be accessed directly from the site.
Loafer Creek Group Campground: This area is adjacent to the Loafer Creek Campground and shares the staffed entrance booth for contacting visitors and collecting fees. There are six separate group sites, each able to accommodate 25 people, that share restrooms and showers. There are eight flush toilets (four ADA accessible) and eight showers (also ADA accessible). Each unit has several tables, a sink with running water, a large barbecue, a large campfire ring, shade trees, five large tent pads, nearby water spigots and parking spaces for eight vehicles.
Phone: (530) 538-2217
Loafer Creek Road (off Hwy 162)
Oroville, CA 95966
More information is available on the State Parks website.
- Loafer Creek Day Use/Campground Trail [Use Designation: Hiking]: The Loafer Creek Day Use/Campground Trail is 1.7 miles in length. The first 1.38 miles of the Loafer Creek Day Use/Campground Trail (managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation) meets ADA accessibility requirements. The Loafer Creek day use area provides parking for 251 vehicles.
- Loafer Creek Loop Trail [Use Designation: Hiking, Equestrian]: The Loafer Creek Loop Trail is a 4.1-mile trail. The first 0.38 miles of the trail to the Campfire Center meets ADA accessibility requirements.
- Roy Rogers Trail [Use Designation: Hiking, Equestrian]: The four-mile Roy Rogers Trail can be accessed from the Loafer Creek Complex including the campground, equestrian camp, boat ramp and day use area. The trail is not ADA accessible.
The Lime Saddle area is located on the western shoreline of the West Branch of the North Fork arm of Lake Oroville. There is a staffed entrance kiosk where information is provided and fees are collected. At the Lime Saddle boat ramp/day use area, there are 13 picnic tables (four are ADA accessible), seven sun shelters, four flush toilets (all ADA accessible), a drinking fountain, a telephone, a four-lane boat ramp with two lanes extending down to elevation 702 feet, a fish cleaning station and trash receptacles.
A primary attraction in the Lime Saddle area is a concessionaire-run marina that offers gas for boats, a boat repair and supply shop, a general store with bait and tackle and a pump-out station. The marina also offers rentals for houseboats, patio boats, fishing boats and ski boats. Also available at the marina are short- and long-term overnight moorage, docks and covered and open slips.
Lime Saddle provides a five-lane boat ramp. In the main parking area at the top of the boat ramp, there are 46 single-vehicle parking spaces (three are ADA accessible) and 191 vehicle/trailer spaces (seven are ADA accessible). Additionally, there is parking above the main level in an overflow lot suited for approximately 70 vehicle/trailer combination spaces and another 14 vehicle/trailer parking spaces are available in an overflow lot.
The boat ramp provides access at the following elevations:
- 5 lanes to 853 feet
- 4 lanes to 801 feet
- 3 lanes to 762 feet
- 2 lanes to 702 feet
***Lime Saddle Campground is closed to the general public this recreation season due to Butte County’s temporary accommodation of residents impacted by the Camp Fire.
Lime Saddle Campground: The newest campground at the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, Lime Saddle Campground, is accessed from SR 70 and Pentz Road. There is a staffed visitor information and fee-collection kiosk. Adjacent to the entrance kiosk are telephones (one is ADA accessible) and nine single-vehicle parking spaces (one is ADA accessible). Between the entrance kiosk and the individual campsites is an RV dump station with two stalls. The campground has 50 total campsites: 44 individual campsites (28 individual car/tent sites and 16 that are available for RVs with full hookups) and group sites. Each individual campsite has a table and a fire ring with grill. There are two restroom/shower buildings located among the 44 campsites. Within the two buildings there are six flush toilets and four showers. There are numerous water spigots, gray water sumps and dumpsters throughout the campground.
Lime Saddle Group Campground: The group campground is located separately from the 44 individual campsites described above. The group campground is split into two areas: Pinecone and Acorn. Each has a shade structure with three tables underneath along with a trash receptacle, a large BBQ and a water fountain/spigot. Among the Pinecone and Acorn sites, there are six campsites (three are ADA accessible). Two of the ADA accessible campsites are in the Pinecone area and are accessed with a multi-level ADA accessible ramp system that allows a tent camper to be a bit further away from the main area (shade structure). In contrast, the ADA accessible campsite in the Acorn area is directly adjacent to the main area (shade structure). The parking area has 16 single-vehicle parking sites (two are ADA accessible) with two trash dumpsters. The central restroom/shower building has three ADA accessible flush toilets and two ADA accessible showers.
Phone: (530) 876-8516
3428 Pentz Road.
Paradise, CA 95969
More information is available on the State Parks website.
Located on the southwest shoreline of the reservoir, the crest road on Oroville Dam is used for sightseeing, walking, jogging, bicycling and rollerblading. Dam Crest Road continues across the newly constructed main spillway to the Spillway Boat Ramp Area where multiple amenities are found.
Day Use Areas
The Oroville Dam Overlook and Upper Overlook day use area sits on the east end of the dam. There are picnic tables, four flush toilets (one ADA accessible), a shade structure, historical information and a drinking fountain. Parking on Dam Crest Road has not been allowed since heightened security was implemented following the September 2001 terrorist attacks. Parking is available at the Upper Overlook, at the north end of the dam near monuments commemorating the dam’s construction, and at the south end near the restroom building.
The Spillway Boat Ramp day use area is located near the boat launch lanes and on the lakeside and is currently open Friday through Sunday from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. This area is accessed after passing a CHP security checkpoint and a seasonally staffed visitor information and fee collection booth. The site has six flush toilets (two ADA accessible), drinking water, a fish cleaning station and picnic sites (six tables) with shade trees and sun shelters. The area recently added interpretive panels describing the reconstruction of the main and emergency spillways.
The Spillway Boat Ramp is the largest boat ramp facility at Lake Oroville, adjacent to the right abutment of Oroville Dam. One stage of ramps has eight lanes used during low to medium water levels while the other has 12 lanes used during medium to high water levels. The eight-lane ramp is separate from the 12-lane ramp, and each has its own accompanying parking lot. During high water, the lower eight-lane ramp and its asphalt parking lot are submerged. The upper lot has over 250 vehicle/trailer parking spaces and 125 single spaces. “En-route” (self-contained) RV camping is no longer allowed. The hours of operation for the entire Spillway Boat Ramp area are Friday through Sunday, 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Brad Freeman Trail [Use designation: Biking, Hiking, some sections allow Equestrian]: The Brad Freeman Trail provides a 41-mile loop of scenic off-road recreation. The trail follows shoreline portions of the Thermalito Forebay, Thermalito Afterbay and the Diversion Pool, and crosses the Oroville Wildlife Area, as well as the crest of Oroville Dam. About 30 miles of trail are flat but include some rolling terrain. Steep grades can be found on either side of the dam, within one mile of Lake Oroville. A portion of the trail in this area is currently closed due to construction associated with the spillways.
- Potter’s Ravine Trail [Use Designation: Biking, Hiking, Equestrian]: The Potter’s Ravine Trail is predominantly designated for multiple-use and is about 5.5 miles long. Beyond the Potter’s Ravine area, the trail continues as the North Fork Trail. These trails are most readily accessed from the Spillway day use area, located on the north side of Oroville Dam. A segment near the day use area is for pedestrian use only and is ADA accessible.
Lake Oroville Visitors Center
Located east of Oroville Dam on Kelly Ridge, the 10,000 square foot, award-winning Lake Oroville Visitors Center features exhibits on the engineering and construction of the hydropower and water supply facilities. Interpretive displays explain how Lake Oroville and the associated project area facilities distribute water and electrical power to their destinations. Additionally, there are interpretive displays on the native culture and the natural resources of the area. The Visitors Center hosts individual visitors as well as large groups such as school field-trips. In addition to the informational displays inside the Visitors Center, there’s a 47-foot viewing tower that provides a panoramic view of Lake Oroville and its surroundings. The Visitors Center is ADA accessible and has 18 picnic tables (10 ADA accessible), shade trees, drinking fountains, a gift shop, a telephone, six toilets (all ADA accessible), parking for 90 vehicles and 17 spaces for either vehicle/trailer combinations or buses. The Dan Beebe Trail can be accessed from the Visitors Center.
Saddle Dam Trailhead [Use Designation: Biking, Hiking, Equestrian]: The Saddle Dam trailhead provides access to the Dan Beebe and Bidwell Canyon Trails, as well as to trails leading to the Loafer Creek area. Located on the southeast side of Kelly Ridge, the Saddle Dam trailhead consists of a regraded and re-graveled parking area able to accommodate approximately 30 to 40 vehicle/trailer combinations. This site provides an ADA accessible restroom, picnic tables, a shade structure, water trough, hitching posts, trail access and access to the reservoir shoreline during high water.
- Chaparral Interpretive Trail [Use Designation: Pedestrian]: The Chaparral Interpretive Trail can be accessed from the Lake Oroville Visitors Center. A portion (0.2 mile) of the trail is ADA accessible. Part of the trail is paved and the remainder has been compacted; there is interpretive signage.
- Dan Beebe Trail [Use designation: Equestrian, Hiking]: The Dan Beebe Trail is a 14.3-mile trail that rises from an elevation of 200 to 1,000 feet. The trail can be accessed at the Saddle Dam Trailhead, Lake Oroville Visitors Center, below Oroville Dam off Oro Dam Boulevard East or from the Lakeland Boulevard Trailhead. Much of the trail winds above the reservoir and provides scenic vistas and an opportunity to access undeveloped areas.
Lake Oroville Scenic Overlook: Located along SR 162 immediately north of the highway bridge across the Middle Fork arm of Lake Oroville, this highway pullout provides a scenic overlook of Lake Oroville toward Bidwell Canyon.
Enterprise Boat Ramp
The Enterprise boat ramp is located on the South Fork arm of Lake Oroville. It has a two-lane boat ramp that extends down to 837 feet. Fishing and swimming also take place along the shoreline at this site, but the site is closed when the reservoir is below 800 feet. There are 49 vehicle/trailer parking spaces.
Dark Canyon Car-Top Boat Ramp
***This area is currently closed by Butte County due to road failure
Dark Canyon car-top boat ramp is located on the West Branch of the North Fork arm of Lake Oroville. The single-lane boat ramp extends down to 847 feet. The ramp is an old roadbed in the inundation zone, at elevations below 847 feet, the road is not maintained and may be problematic for vehicular access. There is a paved parking lot (approximately 20 yards square that can accommodate between 15 and 30 vehicles). There are three pull-out areas between the parking lot and the end of the boat ramp.
Foreman Creek Car-Top Boat Ramp
Foreman Creek car-top boat ramp is located on the north side of the main basin of Lake Oroville. The two-lane boat ramp is maintained down to 730 feet. Boating, fishing and swimming all take place at this site. When the reservoir level is below 800 feet, the site is closed at night. Designated parking areas accommodate approximately 15 to 30 vehicles/trailers. At high reservoir elevations there is only roadside parking, which will accommodate approximately seven vehicles. There is no restroom, but one trash receptacle is provided at this site.
Nelson Bar Car-Top Boat Ramp
Nelson Bar car-top boat ramp is located on the West Branch of the North Fork arm of Lake Oroville. An improved cement surface extends to 854 feet. Small trailers are occasionally used to launch at high reservoir levels. The site has a gravel parking lot (approximately 40 yards square that can accommodate 20 to 25 vehicles/trailers) at elevation 894 feet. There is a vault toilet building (not ADA accessible) and two trash receptacles.
Stringtown Car-Top Boat Ramp
Stringtown car-top boat ramp is located on the South Fork arm of Lake Oroville. The boat ramp extends down to 869 feet, where the unmaintained old roadbed (a former County road) continues into the inundation zone. There is space to park approximately six vehicles/trailers near the beginning of the boat ramp and a few other roadside parking areas. Visitors also fish and swim at this site. There is a vault toilet building (non-ADA accessible) and a trash receptacle.
Vinton Gulch Car-Top Boat Ramp
***This area closes when the lake drops below approximately 888 ft. due to undermining beneath the ramp. It will remain closed until repairs are made.
Vinton Gulch car-top boat ramp is located on the West Branch of the North Fork arm of Lake Oroville. This single-lane boat ramp is maintained down to 849 feet. Usage may be problematic at low lake elevations. This ramp is typically not used at low or medium reservoir levels. In addition to boat launching, shoreline fishing also takes place at Vinton Gulch. There is no designated parking area, however, roadside parking can accommodate approximately 10 vehicles (more at lower water levels). The site has a vault toilet building (not ADA accessible) and two trash receptacles.
Boat-in campgrounds are most usable when Lake Oroville storage is at higher levels (850 feet and above). At lower pool levels, the campsites are inconveniently far from the water; as there are no established pathways to the boat-in campgrounds, their use requires walking up steep slopes if water levels are low. Visitor access will be restricted within the inundation zone to specific boat-in campgrounds, as appropriate, during periods of low reservoir levels to minimize impacts to cultural resources.
- Bloomer Cove: Located on the North Fork arm of Lake Oroville, there are five individual campsites in this area with tables and fire rings with cooking grills. The site has shade trees, two pit toilets and about six trash receptacles.
- Bloomer Knoll: Adjacent to Bloomer Cove, there are six individual campsites in this area with tables and fire rings with cooking grills. The site has shade trees, two pit toilets and about four trash receptacles.
- Bloomer Point: Adjacent to Bloomer Cove, there are 25 individual campsites in this area with tables and fire rings with cooking grills. The site has shade trees, two vault toilets and two pit toilets, about 14 trash receptacles and a self-registration pay station.
- Bloomer Group: Adjacent to Bloomer Cove, there is one group campsite with a 75-person capacity. There are also several shared group BBQ cooking grills. The site has shade trees, two pit toilets and about nine trash receptacles.
- Craig Saddle: Located between the Middle Fork and South Fork arms of Lake Oroville, there are 18 individual campsites in this area with tables and fire rings with cooking grills. The site has shade trees, two vault toilets and two pit toilets, about 19 trash receptacles, potable water and a self-registration pay station.
- Foreman Creek: This campground is located at the north side of Lake Oroville, west of the Foreman Creek Car-top boat ramp. There are 26 individual campsites in this area with tables and fire rings with cooking grills. The site has shade trees, two vault toilets and two pit toilets, 16 trash receptacles, potable water, a gray water sump and a self-registration pay station.
- Goat Ranch: ***No public access due to damage from the Camp Fire. This campground is located on the North Fork arm between the Bloomer campgrounds, where the West Branch splits off of the North Fork arm. The area has five individual campsites with tables and fire rings with cooking grills. The site has shade trees, two vault toilets, two pit toilets and about five trash receptacles.
Lake Oroville has 10 boat-in floating campsites. These popular floating campsites are dispersed among different areas of the reservoir, generally anchored in a protected cove. Each floating campsite is a two-story structure that can accommodate up to 15 people, with living space and amenities such as a gas cooking grill, a table, a sink, a restroom, shelves, storage room, cabinets and a sleeping area. The user must bring potable water, although sink water is provided. Floating campsites developed to this degree are not known to be available anywhere else in the West.
To preserve water quality and provide convenience for boaters, California State Parks and Recreation maintains seven floating restrooms on Lake Oroville. Floating restrooms are constructed on floating platforms where several boats can tie up at the same time. Each floating restroom has two individual stalls with vault-style toilets. They are deployed in various locations around the reservoir.
The Diversion Pool is a unique feature of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, providing a semi-primitive recreation experience. Located below Oroville Dam and above the Thermalito Diversion Dam, access is limited primarily to trails and non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks (electric motors are allowed). No camping is allowed in the Diversion Pool area. (The Feather River Fish Hatchery site is included in this Diversion Pool section, although it is actually located within the Low Flow Channel of the Feather River.)
- Lakeland Boulevard Trailhead: The Lakeland Boulevard Trailhead is located east of the Diversion Pool, near the Diversion Dam and upstream from the Low Flow Channel of the Feather River. The site is unpaved and provides parking and hitching posts used by equestrians. There is no developed shoreline access at the site. The gate to the site is locked from sunset to dawn. A Union Pacific Railroad line is adjacent to this trailhead access area. Signs advise visitors not to trespass on the tracks.
- Sewim Bo Trail [Uses allowed: Biking, Hiking, Equestrian]: The Sewim Bo Trail is generally a hiking trail, but it receives some equestrian and bicycle use (no specific use restriction is currently imposed). The trail begins in the vicinity of the Feather River Nature Center on the opposite side (the eastern bank) of the Feather River from the Feather River Fish Hatchery and extends upstream past the Thermalito Diversion Dam. Much of this trail is located outside the existing Project No. 2100 boundary. The trail leads to a day use area adjacent to the Feather River Nature Center that has been improved with picnic tables, shade ramadas and interpretive signs, as well as erosion control measures for the trail itself. One picnic site is ADA accessible with parking and an access route.
- Feather River Fish Hatchery Day Use Area: Anadromous fish migration up the Feather River is stopped at the Fish Barrier Dam, just downstream from the Diversion Pool and Thermalito Diversion Dam. Salmon climb the fish ladder into the Feather River Fish Hatchery where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife selects fish for breeding. Recreation and public use facilities on the north bank of the Feather River include a visitor area with a landscaped parking lot, restrooms and an observation platform overlooking the Fish Barrier Dam and the Low Flow Channel of the Feather River. There is an area with windows into the fish ladder, making it possible to observe fish as they swim up the ladder during spawning seasons in the fall and spring. Windows are also provided along the spawning building to allow visitors to watch the spawning process. A visitor observation area is also provided at the gathering and holding tanks. The Feather River Fish Hatchery is ADA accessible. The amenities include designated parking areas, restrooms and accessible ramps. The ramps provide access to the viewing platform, viewing window and the gathering tank at the top of the fish ladder.
- Diversion Pool Day Use Areas: The Diversion Pool and its shoreline, located below Oroville Dam and above Thermalito Diversion Dam, are open for day use activities such as swimming, fishing, non-motorized boating, trail use and picnicking. The current Diversion Pool day use area (north) is located along Burma Road, which runs on the north and west sides of the Diversion Pool. Only non-motorized boats such as kayaks, canoes or row boats are allowed on the Diversion Pool (electric motors are also allowed). The only developed facility at this area is a vault toilet building; one small shoreline access point has been enhanced with gravel to facilitate car-top boat launching. Burma Road is also part of the Brad Freeman Trail.
The Thermalito Forebay (North and South) provides another unique recreation experience compared to the other geographic areas of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. Its relatively stable water elevation level, near-town location and developed day use facilities provide an experience that is much different from Lake Oroville. Access is good by existing roads, trails and by motorized (South Forebay only) and non-motorized watercraft. No camping is allowed, except en-route RV camping in the North Forebay Day Use Area.
North Thermalito Forebay Boat Ramp and Day Use Area: The North Thermalito Forebay area covers roughly half (300 surface acres) of the Thermalito Forebay’s 630 surface acres and hosts non-motorized boating and other recreational activities. The North Thermalito Forebay Boat Ramp and Day Use Area has a seasonally staffed visitor information and fee collection booth and two paved boat ramps, one with two lanes and one with three lanes. There are six flush toilets (four are ADA accessible) and 251 single-vehicle parking spaces (three are ADA accessible). The site also has 26 vehicle/trailer parking spaces (one is ADA accessible). Additional parking is available along the south side of the picnic area. The day use area has a swimming beach, large picnic area with 117 tables, large and small shared BBQ grills, shade trees, drinking faucets and a telephone. There are additional picnic sites near the Aquatic Center and a hardened trail that circles the lagoon.
South Thermalito Forebay Boat Ramp and Day Use Area: Located at the southern end of the Thermalito Forebay, this recreational site has a self-registration pay station, a two-lane boat ramp, 10 shaded picnic tables, 10 BBQs, shade trees, a vault toilet building and a fish cleaning station. There is a graded and graveled parking area approximately 60 square yards near the boat ramp and an undetermined number of parking spaces near the picnic tables. Power boating (limited to about 330 acres of the Thermalito Forebay’s 630-acre pool) and fishing are the South Forebay’s main recreation uses. Shoreline swimming also takes place at this day use area.
North Thermalito Forebay RV en-route Campground: There are 15 en-route RV parking spaces with no hookups adjacent to the popular day use area.
Feather River Center: The Feather River Center (FRC) at the North Thermalito Forebay boat ramp/day use area is a collaborative organization comprised of members of the Table Mountain Rowing Club, Butte Sailing Club and the Chico State Rowing Club. They work with the California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) and its Boating and Waterways (DBW) division, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the local community to promote education, recreation, tourism, boating and water safety and competitive water sports in and beyond the Feather River Watershed.
Working in collaboration with State Parks, DWR, DBW, the Supplemental Benefits Fund and the City of Oroville, the FRC is leading the effort to build a new state of the art Aquatic Facility at the Forebay site to enhance the educational, recreational and competitive opportunities at the North and South Forebays.
The site is accessed using the same road (Garden Drive) to access the North Thermalito Forebay. The 1,200 square-foot facility was constructed in 1995 to provide area sailing and rowing clubs with a boathouse and an area for holding classes. Aquatic Center users generally access the Thermalito Forebay using one of the two boat ramps shared with other day use visitors.
The Thermalito Afterbay is similar to the Thermalito Forebay, but allows more extensive motorized watercraft use and has a greater focus on preservation and enhancement of wildlife habitat areas. It also has a relatively predictable pool level, near-town location, and has a few developed day use facilities. With 17 miles of shoreline and 4,300 surface acres of water, the Thermalito Afterbay is open for boating, swimming, fishing, picnicking, and limited hunting. The surface and shoreline are within the Oroville Wildlife Area, but recreation facilities and boat ramps are managed by DWR. There are also several undeveloped dispersed boat-in day use sites and a water-ski course. Access is good by existing roads, trails, and watercraft.
Monument Hill Boat Ramp/Day Use Area: A two-lane boat ramp with floating dock is available at the Monument Hill site on the eastern shoreline of the Afterbay. There are 10 picnic tables, nine BBQs, four flush toilets (one is ADA accessible but is not signed as such), fish cleaning station, and swimming beach. There are 10 single-vehicle parking spaces (one is ADA accessible) and 39 vehicle/trailer combination spaces (three are ADA accessible). Additionally, there is a graded and graveled parking area approximately 60 yards square in area that provides room for about 30 to 40 additional vehicles with trailers.
- The Oroville Wildlife Area Thermalito Afterbay Outlet Camping Area: Located southwest of Lake Oroville, the Oroville Wildlife Area contains a series of ponds and levees adjacent to the Feather River. Fishing, hunting, nature study, and river-associated recreation are the primary activities at the Wildlife Area. This area is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife under a series of agreements with DWR. The Thermalito Afterbay outlet is one of the most popular river fishing areas in the project area and the State, particularly during salmon runs.
- There are an undetermined number of primitive campsites (places to park an RV or stake a tent) at an area just north of and adjacent to the Afterbay outlet that is also used for day use. At Area C, on the north side of the outlet, there is an unimproved one-lane boat ramp, two ADA accessible vault toilet buildings, and several trash receptacles. At Area F (day use only), on the south side of the outlet, there is an ADA accessible vault toilet building and several trash receptacles. The OWA Thermalito Afterbay Outlet Camping Area also provides shoreline and fishing access to the Feather River.
- Toland Road Trailhead Access: The Brad Freeman Trail can be accessed from the Toland Road trail access at the northwest corner of the Afterbay. This trailhead is gated with roadside parking only. There are no developed facilities at this site.
- Tres Vias Trailhead Access: The Tres Vias Road trail access connects to the Brad Freeman Trail about 1.5 miles directly to the east of the Toland Road trail access north of the Thermalito Afterbay. This access area consists of a dirt lot and dirt road/trail at the Thermalito Afterbay. There are no developed facilities at this site
- East Hamilton Road Trailhead Access: East Hamilton Road trail access connects to the Brad Freeman Trail. There is a picnic table and a small gravel parking area that fits approximately five vehicles.
Model Aircraft Flying Facility: Model aircraft enthusiasts have use of a 350-by-300 foot runway for take-offs and landings near North Wilbur Road at the Afterbay Canal. The site has a paved runway for model aircraft take-offs and landings that was upgraded in 2002, as well as a vault toilet building, six picnic tables, a BBQ, and two shade ramadas. The site is located off Wilbur Road, north of SR 162 with access just north of the power canal that runs between Thermalito Forebay and Afterbay. Off Wilbur Road, a gated, gravel road runs for approximately 1⁄4 mile to the Model Aircraft Flying Facility. The area can be accessed from the water as well (boats using Thermalito Afterbay can beach at the site). The site is mainly used by Oroville Model Airplane Club members, with other access occasionally arranged for special groups, activities, or events.
The 11,800-acre Oroville Wildlife Area (OWA) is primarily a primitive wildlife area and provides a project area with a non-reservoir outdoor experience. Managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in partnership with the Department of Water Resources, the OWA allows for additional outdoor recreation activities such as hunting, river- and pond-oriented fishing and boating and wildlife observation and photography. Public access within the OWA is provided by both developed and primitive roads, some of which also serve as trails, and by boat along several miles of the Feather River. Primitive camping is allowed in a limited, designated area of the OWA.
OWA Thermalito Afterbay Outlet boat ramp: The Afterbay Outlet boat ramp is located upstream (northeast) of the Afterbay outlet on the Feather River, within the OWA boundary. A restroom is available at the adjacent day use/camping area. The ramp is a combination of gravel and an articulated concrete block mat; four-wheel drive vehicles are advised when the ramp is muddy and when river flows are low.
OWA Unimproved Boat Ramps: There are several unimproved boat ramps within the OWA, including ramps located along the Feather River near the Vance Avenue and Palm Avenue entrances to the OWA. These ramps are unpaved gravel put-ins that users have expanded to use as boat ramps. Both car-top and trailer launching occurs at many of these ramps. There are no facilities or designated parking associated with any of the ramps. There are also two unimproved boat ramps (not graded or graveled) on the north end of One Mile Pond and an unimproved boat ramp (not graded or graveled) on the south end of One Mile Pond.
Oroville Wildlife Area Trails: The OWA provides many trails for hiking and bicycle use. The Brad Freeman Trail crosses the OWA, following existing gravel levee-top roads that connect the Afterbay outlet with the OWA Headquarters entrance. The other trails within the OWA are not officially designated and none are ADA accessible. The Feather River runs through the center of the OWA and has several channels. The OWA outside the Afterbay is used as a floodplain for emergency releases from Oroville Dam.
OWA Thermalito Afterbay Outlet Day Use Area: The existing use area provides unpaved vehicular and pedestrian day use access to the Feather River shoreline, a very popular river fishing site adjacent to the Thermalito Afterbay outlet. A vault toilet building and trash receptacles are provided in this area.
Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA): Located adjacent to the OWA and outside the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, the Clay Pit SVRA provides a riding area for off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts. The site is accessed from Larkin Road and is south of SR 162 and the Oroville Municipal Airport. The clay used to build the core of Oroville Dam was taken from this area. The resulting depression, a wide and broad sunken pit ringed with low hills, is the site of this 220-acre OHV recreation area. It is a motorcycle, all- terrain vehicle and dune buggy use area. There is a well-marked entrance road that leads to a paved staging area used for loading and unloading OHVs. Aside from the paved staging area and the entrance road, the entire site is one large open dirt area where OHVs (including trucks) can explore.
Rabe Road Shooting Range: This shooting range on Rabe Road, directly adjacent to the Clay Pit SVRA is located outside of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area and is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. There is a small sign that says “public shooting area” on Rabe Road. It is an unstaffed public shooting area with unmarked backstops (undefined places to place paper targets) reported to facilitate a range up to 500 yards in distance. It is technically a rifle range, but pistol use commonly occurs here as well. There are seven concrete picnic tables and a vault toilet building at the gravel parking lot.
Lake Oroville Recreation Partner Agencies
California State Parks manages the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, where you can find up-to-date information on weather, launch ramps and other activities at the lake, and make camping reservations, at ReserveCalifornia.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife operates the nearby Feather River Fish Hatchery and Oroville Wildlife Area. The hatchery website provides information on visiting hours and fish raised there. The wildlife area website contains information on recreation, hunting and history of the area. To inquire about a tour of the hatchery, please contact the Department of Water Resources Tour Guide at (530) 534-2306.
Along with State Parks, DWR operates the Lake Oroville Visitors Center (also known as Kelly Ridge Visitors Center). It features interpretive displays on Oroville Dam, area geology, wildlife and habitat, hydroelectric power and cultural and historical artifacts. An audio-visual room with on-request videos and a 47-foot viewing tower overlooking the dam and lake are added Visitor Center attractions.
Contact Oroville Visitor Center
Jana Frazier, DWR Guide
Oroville Field Division
Oroville Dam Visitors Center
917 Kelly Ridge Rd.
Oroville, CA 95966