Lake County, Northern California

Clear Lake

Clear Lake

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Photo of Clear Lake

Clear Lake

Clear Lake is the largest natural fresh water lake entirely within California. People flock to its warm waters for long summer days of water sports and year-round bass fishing.

Clear Lake is located in the Pacific Coast Range, 90 miles north of San Francisco. It is surrounded by lightly wooded hills. Much of the shoreline is developed and privately held, but there is plenty of public access.

Boating Clear Lake

Clear Lake draws boaters from all over the area because of its warm water and easy accessibility. Free boat launch ramps are located around the shores. The broad expanse of water of Clear Lake provides ample room for water skiing and wakeboarding. Sailboating is popular at the lake with a number of regattas held there every year.


Clear Lake has several full-service marinas along with countless private docks. Almost everyone with waterfront property has a dock sticking out into the lake. Many motels have their own boat ramps. Boat rentals for the most part are concentrated at one large establishment.


Clear Lake is advertised as the best bass fishing lake in the West. The warm, shallow waters provide excellent habitat for bass. Clear Lake also supports crappie, bluegill, and catfish.


Forest camping is limited at Clear Lake. Clear Lake State Park has excellent campsites, but there are few National Forest campgrounds in the area. The closest are about 12 miles north of the lake in the Mendocino National Forest. There are a number of private campgrounds and many RV Parks around the lake.


Lodging at Clear Lake is extensive, ranging from simple motels to luxurious resorts. Since so much of the lake's shoreline is privately held, it is not difficult to find a moderately priced lakefront motel or resort with its own private dock and beach.


Rolling, oak-studded hills surround the lake, with Mt. Konocti rising as a focal point. Many of the establishments along the shore have a charming ambiance. You don't go to Clear Lake expecting a wilderness setting. The seasonal algae bloom, which is part of the lake's natural cycle, can be unsightly when mats of dead algae spread across small sections of the lake.

Nearby Communities

A number of small communities are situated around the lake, including Kelseyville, Nice, Clearlake Oaks, Clearlake, Lucerne, and Lakeport.


Clear Lake's Annual Splash-In


A gathering of float planes known as the Splash-In occurs at Clear Lake every September. This year's Splash-In will be held September 7-8, 2018. Seaplanes from around the country begin arriving on Friday morning. In past years participating seaplanes have included DeHavilland Beavers, Lake LA-4s, Grumman Albatrosses, and Republic Seabees, as well as Pipers and Cessnas.

Saturday events include a pancake brakfast, displays of a wide range of aircraft, displays, aviation flea market, and more. Clear Lake Splash-In

Clear Lake Facts
Lake Size: 43,785 surface acres
Maximum Depth: 60 feet
Length: 20 miles
Shoreline: 127 miles
Maximum Lake Elevation: 1,326 feet
Average High Air Temperatures
  spring: 70 degrees
  summer: 95 degrees
  fall: 78 degrees
  winter: 60 degrees
Summer Water Temperature: 79 degrees

Other Recreation around Clear Lake

  • Clear Lake State Park:   Visitors Center, Swimming, Fishing, Dorn Trail, Indian Nature Trail
  • Anderson Marsh State Historic Park:   A number of trails lead through various habitats. The McVicar Wildlife Sanctuary is open to the public, along with the old ranch house.
  • Boggs Mountain:   Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest has interpretive trails for hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers.


California's Greatest Lakes

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