Lake Oroville Recreation
Lake Oroville State Recreation Area
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 construction on the spillway.
Please reference the Recreation Closures Map or call the Visitors Center for the most up-to-date information on openings and closures.
Lake Oroville is one of the SWP’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 dam, the forebay, afterbay, and Feather River offer additional fishing opportunities. Steelhead and largemouth bass can also be found in the 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
- 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 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. There are two day use areas with sun shelters, BBQs, and picnic tables (21 in total). The site has drinking water, eight flush toilets (two are ADA accessible), gray water sump, seven-lane boat ramp, telephone, and a fish cleaning station.
The boat ramp area has a visitor information station and fee collection booth, as well as a full-service marina. The boat ramp provides access at the following elevations:
- 7 lanes to 850’
- 6 lanes to 802’
- 5 lanes to 735’
- 3 lanes between 745’ and 700’
- 3 lanes between 717’ and 660’
- 1 lane (gravel) from 665’ to 630’ (with the Spillway Boat Ramp closed, this is the lowest access on the Lake)
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.
Ph. #: (530) 538-2218
801 Bidwell Canyon Road (off Arroyo Drive)
Oroville, CA 95966
More information is available on the State Parks website.
- Saddle Dam Trailhead Access [Use Designation: Biking, Hiking, Equestrian]: The Saddle Dam trail provides access to the southern termini of 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 trail consists of a regraded and regraveled parking area able to accommodate approximately 10 to 15 vehicle/trailer combinations. This site provides a convenient location to off-load horses, to access the nearby equestrian trail, and to access the reservoir shoreline during high water.
- Bidwell Canyon Trail [Use Designation: Bicycles, Hiking]: The 4.9-mile Bidwell Canyon Trail can be accessed from the Saddle Dam trail access or the Bidwell Canyon boat ramp parking area. The latter has 279 vehicle/trailer parking spaces. The Bidwell Canyon Trail has portions that meet ADA accessibility requirements.
- Wyk Island Trail [Use Designation: Hiking]: The Wyk Island Trail can be accessed from the Bidwell Canyon boat ramp parking. 0.19 miles of trail meets ADA accessibility requirements. The trail provides a nature-oriented experience in a foothill setting. There are 279 vehicle/trailer parking spaces, restrooms, and trash receptacles at the Bidwell Canyon boat ramp.
Generally, the Bidwell Canyon facilities are available at high, medium, and low reservoir levels. There’s parking for 279 vehicles/trailers in the upper parking lot. The lower 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, snack bar, approximately 280 berths and 400 mooring anchors, fuel dock, pumping station for boat holding tanks, boat storage, and trailer facilities with hookups. Parking for 168 single-vehicles is available at the marina at full pool. Over 100 additional single-vehicle parking spaces at the marina become available in the inundation zone as the reservoir level recedes.
Loafer Creek facilities include 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, swimming area with a beach at higher pool levels, playground area, 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’
- 2 lanes to 775’
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 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 (BBQ), a large campfire ring, shade trees, five large tent pads, nearby water spigots, and parking spaces for eight vehicles.
Ph. #: (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 1.23 miles of the Loafer Creek Day Use/Campground Trail (managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation) meets ADA accessibility requirements. The trail provides a rural experience in a foothill setting. 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 3.2-mile trail; the first 0.23 mile of the Trail meets ADA accessibility requirements. The trail provides a rural experience in a foothill setting. The Loafer Creek day use area provides parking for 251 vehicles; however, many trail users access the trail from the Loafer Creek Campground.
- 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 Loafer Creek day use area provides parking for 251 vehicles; however, many trail users access the trail from the Loafer Creek Campground.
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), drinking fountain, telephone, four-lane boat ramp with two lanes extending down to elevation 702’, 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, general store with bait and tackle, and 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 45 single-vehicle parking spaces (three are ADA accessible) and 131 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 64 single-vehicle parking spaces are available in a lot near the entrance kiosk.
The boat ramp provides access at the following elevations:
- 5 lanes to 853’
- 4 lanes to 801’
- 3 lanes to 762’
- 2 lanes to 702’
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, 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.
Ph. #: (530) 876-8516
3428 Pentz Road.
Paradise, CA 95969
More information is available on the State Parks website.
CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR CONSTRUCTION
Located on the southwest shoreline of the reservoir, the crest of Oroville Dam is used for driving and sightseeing, walking, jogging, bicycling, and rollerblading. Some fishing takes place at the edge and along the shoreline and can be undertaken at any reservoir level.
The Oroville Dam Overlook day use area sits on the east end of the dam. There are picnic tables, four flush toilets (one ADA accessible) at the east end of the dam, and a drinking fountain. Parking across the top of the dam has not been allowed since heightened security was implemented following the September 2001 terrorist attacks. Parking (approximately 20 vehicle spaces) remains open at the east end of the dam. The site has 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 Spillways Boatramp is the largest boat ramp facility at Lake Oroville, adjacent to the right abutment of Oroville Dam. Development here consists of two stages of multi-lane boat ramps. One stage of ramps has eight lanes and can be used during low to medium water levels, while the other has 12 lanes and can be used during medium to high water. 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 350 vehicle/trailer parking spaces, 40 of which have been set aside for “en route” (self-contained) RV camping. The main ramp has spaces for a maximum of 75 vehicles/trailers available at medium and low pool levels. There are 118 single-vehicle parking spaces (eight ADA accessible) in the upper lot.
Spillway RV “En Route” Campground: This campground consists of 40 parking spaces that have been reserved for RV “en route” (self-contained) camping. These spaces are located in the upper parking lot at Spillway. There are no hookups for these spaces.
- Brad Freeman Trail [Use designation: Biking, Hiking]: The Brad Freeman Trail provides a 41-mile loop of scenic off-road recreation, originally constructed primarily for all-terrain bikes. 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. Although some of the trail is designated multiple use, no horses are allowed on several segments; thus, the utility of the trail to provide a "loop" is only consistent with hiking and bicycle use.
- 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 to 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.
- 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 Saddle Dam trail access, Lake Oroville Visitors Center, below Oroville Dam off of Oro Dam Boulevard, or from the Lakeland Boulevard trail access. Much of the trail winds above the reservoir and provides scenic vistas and an opportunity to access undeveloped areas. The vast majority of the trail is not paved.
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. Recent enhancements to this overlook have been completed.
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’. Fishing and swimming also take place along the shoreline at this site, but the site is closed when the reservoir is below 800’. There are 40 vehicle/trailer parking spaces.
Dark Canyon Car-Top Boat Ramp
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’. The ramp is an old roadbed in the inundation zone, at elevations below 847’ the road is not be 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’. Boating, fishing, and swimming all take place at this site. When 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’; 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’. 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’, 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
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’. 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: 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 and 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, table, sink, 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 convenient positions around the reservoir.
The Diversion Pool is a unique area of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area in that it provides a semi-primitive recreation experience. Access is limited primarily to trail and non-motorized watercraft (electric motors are allowed). No camping is allowed in the Diversion Pool area, only day use. The Feather River Fish Hatchery site is included in the Diversion Pool area, although it is actually located within the Low Flow Channel of the Feather River.
- Lakeland Boulevard Trailhead Access: The Lakeland Boulevard trail access 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) in the vicinity of the Feather River Nature Center on the opposite side (eastern bank) of the Feather River from the Feather River Fish Hatchery and extending 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 access route.
- Feather Falls Trail [Use designation: Biking, Hiking, Equestrian]: Feather Falls is located on the Fall River, which flows into the Middle Fork Feather River less than one mile from the northeast corner of Lake Oroville. Feather Falls is the nation’s sixth highest waterfall at 640 feet. The Feather Falls Trail is located outside of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, within the Feather Falls Scenic Area in the Plumas National Forest. Virtually all of this trail is located outside the existing Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. The trailhead, providing restrooms, camping, and parking, is a 35-mile drive from the City of Oroville. The multiple-use trail is 4.5 miles long, requiring a round trip of 9 miles for visitors who go to Feather Falls and back.
- 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 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 Diversion Dam and its flow over the dam. There is an area with windows into the fish ladder, making it possible to observe fish as they swim up the ladder. 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 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 a trail corridor.
The Thermalito Forebay (North and South) provides another unique recreation experience compared to the other geographic areas of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. It’s relatively stable elevation level, near-town location, and developed day use facilities provide an experience that is much different compared to 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 picnic tables, 10 BBQs, shade trees, vault toilet building, and a fish cleaning station. There is a graded and graveled parking area approximately 60 yards square 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” (self-contained) RV parking spaces with no hookups adjacent to the popular day use area.
Aquatic Center Existing Resources: The Aquatic Center at the North Thermalito Forebay boat ramp/day use area is managed by DPR for the use of boating clubs and educational institutions. The site is accessed using the same road (Garden Drive) as 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. In 2004, DPR entered into an agreement with California State University, Chico (CSUC), to conduct water- and boating-related educational programs for students and other LOSRA visitors. 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 Oroville Wildlife Area (OWA) includes that area of the OWA currently managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, but excludes the Thermalito Afterbay OWA component. The OWA is primarily a primitive wildlife area and provides visitors to the project area with a non-reservoir outdoor experience. The OWA allows for different outdoor recreation activities compared to the other areas within the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, such as hunting, river-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. There is no designated parking area; however, roadside parking can accommodate approximately five to 10 vehicles. A restroom is available at the adjacent day use/camping area. The ramp is a gravel/dirt ramp that can be used to launch boats using a trailer; four-wheel drive vehicles are advised when the ramp is muddy (typically after rains).
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; there is also 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: 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, call our Oroville Field Division at (530) 534-2306.
Along with State Parks, we operate the Lake Oroville Visitors Center (also known as Kelly Ridge Visitors Center). It features interpretive displays, an audio-visual room with on-request videos, and a 47-foot viewing tower overlooking the dam and lake.
Lake Oroville Shuttle Info
To improve access to available boat launching facilities while construction at the Lake Oroville spillways continues this summer, DWR and State Parks have partnered to offer passenger shuttles service from designated parking areas to operating boat launching facilities. Between mid-May and mid-September, shuttles will run at the following ramps:
- Two shuttles at Bidwell Canyon
- Two shuttles at Lime Saddle
- One shuttle at Loafer Creek. Note: the boat ramp becomes unusable at Loafer Creek when the lake drops below an elevation of 780 feet, at which time that shuttle will move to Bidwell Canyon for a total of 3 at Bidwell.
Schedules could change and are dependent on visitation and overall demand for shuttle services.
Contact the Oroville Visitor Center
917 Kelly Ridge Rd.
Oroville, CA 95966