Lakes & Rivers in Southern California

Lakes & Rivers in Southern California
Far from the lights of Hollywood and screams of amusement parks, southern California offers outdoor enthusiasts an abundance of lakes and rivers within easy reach. San Bernardino National Forest encompasses 676,666 acres in two counties, while Los Padres National Forest features nearly 2 million acres of land, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Visitors and residents have access to many lakes and rivers for recreational activities in southern California.

Big Bear Lake Municipal Water District

Big Bear Lake is seven miles in length with 22 miles of shoreline and an average water depth of 35 feet. The lake is managed by an independent municipal water district and has a board of directors to monitor the water level. Moving vessels are allowed on Big Bear and include canoes, kayaks, sailboats and motor boats up to 26 feet in length. Two public boat launches provide free access and visitors wishing to rent a boat can do so at the marina. Picnic areas, parks, docks, campgrounds, RV parks and a waterfowl preserve are found along Big Bear's shoreline at different locations. Big Bear Lake is located approximately 136 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Big Bear Lake Municipal Water District
40524 Lakeview Drive
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

Santa Margarita Lake

Located in San Luis Obispo County, Santa Margarita Lake was created by the completion of the Salinas Dam in 1941, according to the county's website. Activities at the lake include fishing for bass, trout or catfish; boating; canoeing or camping on one of 60 sites. While swimming is not permitted in the lake, a pool is open seasonally and hiking trails and picnic areas are also available.

Santa Margarita Lake
4695 Santa Margarita Lake Road
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

Lake Havasu and the Colorado River

Lake Havasu, formed by Parker Dam, is 45 miles long and is bordered on the west by California and on the east by Arizona, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Recreational activities include boating, swimming, jet skiing and fishing in Lake Havasu's many deep water coves and inlets. The Colorado River continues south from Parker Dam on the opposite side of Lake Havasu, and California continues to serve as the river's western border through towns such as Parker Dam, Big Lake and Earp. The Colorado River and Lake Havasu are 243 miles east of Los Angeles.

Colorado River
Parker Dam Road
Parker Dam, CA 92267

Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Area

The area known as Buena Vista was created in 1973 and features two lakes: 873-acre Lake Webb and 86-acre Lake Evans, according to the Kern County website. Lake Webb allows boating and jet skiing up to 45 miles per hour as well as fishing and camping on 112 sites, while Lake Evans welcomes sailboats, fishing and boating up to five miles per hour. Picnic areas, playgrounds, a golf course and biking paths are available throughout both lake areas. Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Area is located 25 miles southwest of Bakersfield and 117 miles north of Los Angeles.

Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Area
Golf Course Road and Ironbark Road
Taft, CA 93268

Article Written By Michelle Hornaday

Michelle Hornaday lives in Edmonds, Washington and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Washington State University and a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University. She is currently a freelance writer for various websites.

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