Man made lakes in California have multiple purposes. But how did they begin?
Can you imagine being in a village in very early times, seeing a river overflowing its banks year after year. Then suddenly there's a shift, & it doesn't rain for months on end. The crops you planted start to suffer. Your family worries about getting water to drink.
All that water which flowed in years past - now you yearn to have!
This is why reservoirs were imagined as a solution. In fact the first reservoir was built in Jordan way back, approximately 3000 BC. Even then people saw the need, which was storing the water for crop irrigation.1
With purchases made via links on our site, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Details at our Advertising Policy.
This is still a reservoir purpose today in California.
We have lots about these man made lakes. Next, we'll talk a bit about construction specifics. But you can get right to Our Contents Here>
*Minimum 30% discount available on new accommodation bookings at participating properties indicated by the “Black Friday Deals” badge on the search results and room selection pages. Bookings must be made before 09:00 am CET on 01/12/22 for stays with check-in from 17/11/22 and check-out on or before 31/12/23. Discount applies to the cost of room only (excluding any additional fees or taxes). If you make any changes to your booking you may lose your discount and be liable for the full amount. Discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions. Room rates labelled “Partner Offer” are excluded from this promotion. This offer is provided by the participating property and subject to availability.
California reservoirs were created with that original reason: as water storage for future use. By impounding water from a river flow, particularly when it's flowing very well.
It's done by building a dam across a river. The construction method for a dam depends on the purpose the dam was created for, the geology of the area & other considerations.
Other reservoir purposes are for drinking water, generating electricity, flood control, providing for animal habitat & of course for human recreation of many types. Sometimes recreational benefits are just an added perk of the main first three primary objectives.
You can scroll down to peruse the California man made lakes we've discovered. OR...
Get Your FREE Ebook, Puzzle & Newsletter!
Monthly Lakeside Fun, Tips, Info & Scoops
CLICK HERE NOW>
Do you want to see Man Made Lakes in California's specific Areas?
Click Your Interest To See Them Now:
Man made lakes are always artificially made lakes.
But sometimes humans take a natural lake & refit it so that it can hold more water. Thus it becomes a sort of hybrid.
Keep in mind, the creation of reservoirs also makes for some problems. Such as the problem that occurs in drought conditions. When reserved water levels get extremely low, this affects the system's ability for Power Generation.
But that's not all. Can you think of other water problems because of drought?
What are the most commonly asked questions about reservoirs in California?
How many man made lakes in California are there?
What is the deepest man made lake in California?
What is the largest man made lake in California?
Are man made lakes dangerous?
Cold Shock - Temperatures can vary within a few feet, from just fine to near enough to freezing. Which can give sudden shock to the body. Stunning you.
Water Strength & Lake Waves - Is it a windy day? A large lake/reservoir sometimes have sizeable waves. Though generally a reservoir doesn't have much of a current. If you get near a dam, that can change, as water draws toward outlet channels.
Alcohol - Drinking affects judgment. Not a good idea to mix it with swimming out or inappropriate boating. Many drownings & boating accidents involve alcohol.
Stay Near Shore - Swimming out of range of suggested areas might lead to unexpected problems. You may get too tired to return & struggle. You may try to reach the nearest shore & find it's too steep to climb out.
Child Safety - Always be sure they're monitored at every moment. Be sure they're wearing a life jacket. That goes for anyone at all who's a weak swimmer. Teach Them Well>
Follow the Rules - Please obey any & all posted signs regarding places to swim or boat, or any other regulations. These are for your safety - for everyone's, at all these man made lakes in California!
Southern California is a great place to check out man made lakes. The weather is pretty much good to go for visiting them year-round. For all kinds of recreation.
What interests you? Do you favor camping, picnicking, fishing, or just taking a serene lakeside walk?
You probably have something in mind. There are lots of Things To Do At Lakes that you could be planning.
Let's see some of them you may like.
Bard Lake - If you're in Simi Valley, you may have heard this one, also called Wood Ranch Reservoir. It's east of Oxnard.
Either way, the best thing about this for most of us is the lakeside trail.
This man made lake is specifically set aside as a reservoir for drinking water. Even though it seems there's fish in it, there's no fishing allowed.
It's fenced & thus is private property. But the excellent trail gets you great lake views. Just under a total of 3-1/2 miles, Shuttle Style.
Lake Casitas - Enter the Recreation Area to enjoy this reservoir.
Excellent camping: 9 different campgrounds for all types of needs, from tents to RVs needing hook-ups.
Plus a shoreline hiking trail, playground, boating & fishing.
East of Pacific Hwy.101, off Rt.150. It's halfway between Santa Barbara & Ventura. For details: 805-649-2233
Central California, some may feel, has about the best of all worlds.
Nice forested areas, temperate climate, interesting valleys, farmlands on & on. But head west and you have the high mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada.
Then amidst all that are the man made lakes in California with waters of some very pristine tributaries.
We love visiting this area, just haven't been often enough! Yet!!
We'll show you some of the best man made lakes in Central California that we've found.
Camanche Reservoir - Yes, it's true. When creating this man made lake in California, the town of Lancha Plana was inundated. That was its end! In 1963 when the dam contained the waters of Mokelumne River.
Today you can probably still see remains of the old Lancha Plana Bridge, now lakeside, but then crossing the river.7 Its creation was primarily for flood control & local municipal usage.
Now the 12 sq. mile reservoir has lots of fun for all. A nice vacation spot, with 53 miles of shoreline. All recreation is accessed via Lake Camanche Recreation Company.8
Boating - The North (209-763-5166) & South (209-763-5915) shore each have a marina with cafe/grill. Boat & fishing gear rentals available. Launch ramps on each side. All types of craft can use the lake.
Fishing - Trout stocking from Oct.-June. What's the really popular catch? Large & Small Mouth Bass! You can also hook catfish, crappie, kokanee, bluegill & sunfish. There is a $7.25/day fee fishing access fee (supports fish stocking), plus have your California fishing license if 16/+ years old.
Camping/Lodging - Massive amounts of choices here! 300 tenting sites, 200 RV sites with full hook-ups, plus an Equestrian Campground. It's about a 20 minute drive from the North to the South shore.
Courtright Reservoir - A sparkling gem at 8200' in the midst of the Sierra National Forest. At lakeside near your campsite, or while boating across the blue ripples you'll look up to see impressive Mt. Goddard, over 13,500' up.
In 1958 Pacific Gas & Electric formed this man made lake in California to generate electricity. Waters from Wishon Reservoir can be pumped back uphill to Courtright providing more generating water power.
What recreation is there?
Open late May through November, when roads are accessible.
Campgrounds managed by PG&E (916-386-5164). 1st-come/1st-served sites.
Northern California, the place of forests, big trees, rugged coastal access not far from pristine lakes. Just about everywhere you turn up this way, you'll find one of the gorgeous man made lakes in California!
Remember, it's the flowing rivers that give rise to these man made lakes in California's North. Add in some volcanic areas, and this area is quite wonderfully diverse.
A highly recommended area you won't forget!
The first time we came up this way, our plane had to circle the small airport for 1/2 hour before the spring-time fog lifted. Oh my! Once finally on the ground, we were awed at every turn.
For us "desert creatures" - it was another world!
Bullards Bar Reservoir - Accessed from Rt. 49, then onto Marysville Rd. & also North of Grass Valley California. You'll be out in the "wilds." Nice!
All kinds of activities here, including swimming, hiking & fishing. What else:
Houseboats - Think you will love Renting These, from the Emerald Cove Marina. You can also rent other types of craft, if you don't have your own boat. If you do plan on boating, it's a good idea to see the camping link to get a heads-up on some boating rules.
Camping - Open from April 15 to October 15.
Black Butte Lake - Stony Creek was dammed forming this man made lake in California in 1963. Its primary purpose was flood control & local farming irrigation needs.
With a shoreline of approximately 40 miles it also has many recreational uses. Public areas managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.5
Two Campgrounds - Many gorgeous sites, but no utilities. All have picnic tables & fire pits & can accommodate up to 35' RVs. Drinking water, dump station, rest room/showers available.
Boating is popular for all types of craft. Use caution as water level is changeable. Unexpected shallow areas or submerged rock/tree hazards may suddenly appear.
Fishing is excellent, best as spring is turning to summer. People love hooking crappie, large/small-mouth bass & channel cats.
Other Stuff: Try the Disc Golf, bring your horse, or hike the trails, picnicking, playground & exercise area. What kinds of things To Do at a Lake attract you the most?
DIRECTIONS: West of Chico California to Orland CA. From Orland I-5 Exit 619, travel West on Hwy. 200 for 8 miles. Watch for signs.
Iron Gate Reservoir - Public access is provided by the power company, PacifiCorp. They also manage another nearby man made lake in California: Copco Reservoir. Yes, their needs are for power. And there have been recreation areas provided by them:10
However there's an Anticipated Change About to Happen Here.
See References For Man Made Lakes in California>
Some Directional Information on This Page May be sourced from Map data ©Google
What Do You Say? CommentsWe'd like to hear from you. Have a comment or question? Say it here: