San Luis Reservoir Recreation
Update: At San Luis Reservoir, basalt campground and day use area are temporarily closed due to Sisk Dam Safety of Dams Modification Project.
San Luis Reservoir, located in the western San Joaquin Valley near historic Pacheco Pass, serves both the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project. San Luis Reservoir, O'Neill Forebay, and Los Banos Creek Reservoir are part of the San Luis Joint-Use Complex that is operated jointly by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the California Department of Water Resources, and the Bureau of Reclamation.
San Luis Reservoir SRA offers a popular destination for fishing, swimming, boating, camping, hiking, and windsurfing.
DWR operates the Romero Overlook Visitors Center, just off Highway 152, which overlooks the reservoir. The visitor center provides information on the reservoirs and the State Water Project. Admission is free.
San Luis Reservoir: Visitors can access the lake from Highway 152 through the park entrances on Basalt Road and Dinosaur Point Road. Boaters can launch from Dinosaur Point or Basalt boat ramps.
O'Neill Forebay: Donohugh Road, west off Santa Nella Boulevard and Gonzaga Road off Highway 152, offers two park entrances to the forebay. Boaters can launch at both entrances.
Los Banos Creek Reservoir: Canyon Road from I-5 leads into the park entrance, boat launch, and several picnic spots.
San Luis Reservoir SRA offers four year-round campgrounds: Basalt, San Luis Creek, Medeiros, and Los Banos Creek. Each site includes a fire ring and table. Reservations are recommended for Basalt and San Luis Creek campgrounds. Group campsites are only available by reservation. Medeiros and Los Banos Creek campgrounds are first-come, first-serve.
Basalt Campground (temporarily closed): Near San Luis Reservoir, offers 79 developed family campsites with nearby flush restrooms, showers for an additional fee, and a dump station.
San Luis Creek Campground: On O’Neill Forebay, offers 52 partial hook-up sites with water, electricity, and dump stations. Flush toilets and showers are unavailable at these sites.
Group campsites are available at the San Luis Creek area along the shoreline of O’Neill Forebay. There are two sites, each offering shade ramadas, flushable toilets, and showers.Group Camp A can accommodate 60 people and 15 vehicles. Group Camp B can accommodate 30 people and 10 vehicles.
To reserve a campsite at Basalt, San Luis Creek, or a group campsite, visit California State Parks.
Medeiros Campground, located along the southern shoreline of O’Neill Forebay, is a primitive campsite. Drinking water and chemical toilets are available nearby. Only Medeiros campers can fish after sunset.
Los Banos Creek Campground offers 20 primitive camping/day-use sites at the San Luis Creek area along the shoreline of O'Neill Forebay. Drinking water and chemical toilets are available nearby. Due to the limited turn around space, most sites cannot accommodate RVs.
For more information about San Luis Reservoir SRA’s campgrounds, visit San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area.
The boating speed limits on the San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay vary throughout the lakes, with lower speed limits near the launch ramps. Los Banos Reservoir has a five MPH speed limit on the entire lake.
Boating hours for San Luis Reservoir, Los Banos Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay are sunrise to sunset. No boats are allowed on the water overnight.
The three lakes are susceptible to strong winds, which make them excellent spots for windsurfing, but visitors should be aware of the wind warning lights to stay safe. On San Luis Reservoir, wind warning lights are located at the Basalt entrance station, Quien Sabe Point, and Romero Visitor Center. On the forebay, wind warning lights are located at the Medeiros boat ramp and above the South Beach picnic area at San Luis Creek.
Five world record or former world record stripped bass have been caught on O’Neill Forebay. Other species available at San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay are large-mouth black bass, crappies, shad, perch, and occasionally salmon and sturgeon. Los Banos Creek Reservoir has excellent fishing for large-mouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and trout.
Guided kayak tours led by California State Parks staff are available in the summertime beginning at 8:30 a.m.
For reservations and more information, call (209) 826-1197.
San Luis Reservoir SRA trails for hiking, include the five-mile San Luis Creek Accessible Trail that runs along the O’Neill Forebay shoreline. The Basalt Campground Trail starts west of the campground road. The six-mile-round-trip Lone Oak Trail begins near the Basalt boat ramp. There is also a fire road near the Banos Creek Campground called the North Rim that is available to hikers.
There are several picnic sites along O’Neill Forebay shoreline, the North Beach and South Beach areas at San Luis Creek, and Los Banos Creek Reservoir.
For more information and to make reservations, call the park office at (209) 826-1197.
Romero Overlook Visitors Center is open Thursday-Monday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) except major holidays, and admission is free.