Lake Sonoma is tucked in the coastal mountains about 30 miles north of Santa Rosa. Constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the reservoir is popular for boating, picnicking, swimming, fishing, cycling, hiking, horseback riding, and camping. Like so many of California's mountain reservoirs, Lake Sonoma features long, narrow arms that snake up the canyons. Boaters and anglers have miles of shoreline with countless inlets and coves to explore.
Thousands of visitors enjoy the Lake Sonoma area every year. Two main recreation areas are found at the lake- Warm Springs Recreation Area and Yorty Creek Recreation Area. Park headquarters and the Milt Brandt Visitor Center are located at the Warm Springs area. The Visitor Center is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 AM to 4 PM. Behind the Visitor Center is the Congressman Don Clausen Fish Hatchery.
Parking Fee: $5 ($15 at the Lake Sonoma Resort)
Boat Launch Fee: Small fee ($20 at the Lake Sonoma Resort)
Lake Sonoma has miles of great boating and water skiing. The maximum speed limit on the lake is 50 mph. Areas are marked for No Water Skiing and for No Wake. Lake Sonoma Resort is the only marina on the lake. They have a small store, docks, and a launch ramp. $10 to park at the resort. They advertise boat rentals. Across the lake is another launch ramp.
A variety of fish are found in the warm waters of Lake Sonoma, including bass, perch, channel catfish, sunfish and bluegill. Submerged trees and rocks in the lake provide excellent fish habitat. Many anglers enjoy the quiet waters of the no wake and no water skiing zones for their fishing.
Lake Sonoma has a single traditional drive-in campground and nearly 100 boat-in or hike-in campsites scattered along the lake's shore. These primitive sites have fire rings and picnic tables along with nearby chemical toilets. They make great campsites for boaters, families, anglers, and hikers. One cluster of campsites features a corral and water for horses.
There is no lodging available right at Lake Sonoma. The land surrounding the recreational area of the lake is a nature preserve. The nearest lodging is found in Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, and Cloverdale.
Rolling coastal mountains and winding waterways make Lake Sonoma an attractive place fish, hike, or enjoy the water. The bridge near the dam provides a dramatic scene similar to Lake Shasta's Interstate 5 bridge. Oak forests, meadows, grassy slopes, and countless streams create a collage of color, texture, and sun, and shadow.
For supplies, the Dry Creek General Store is just down the road. The nearest city to Lake Sonoma is Healdsburg, about 11 miles to the south. Situated along the Russian River, Healdsburg offers a full range of services and resources from lodging and dining to shopping and recreation. Another 15 miles south is the city of Santa Rosa. The closest community to the Yorty Creek Recreation Area is the charming town of Cloverdale.
Friends of Lake Sonoma
Friends of Lake Sonoma is a gathering of volunteers who help support the interpretive and educational program at Lake Sonoma. They also help to staff the Visitor Center. They work in partnership with a variety of government agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Friends of Lake Sonoma welcomes additional members to their organization and donations to help support Lake Sonoma.
Friends of Lake Sonoma