Lake Camanche Camping: A Comprehensive Guide

1. Introduction

Hey there, camping enthusiasts! If you’re looking for a fantastic camping destination that offers a mix of relaxation and adventure, let me introduce you to Lake Camanche. Nestled in the beautiful landscapes of California, Lake Camanche is a treasure trove for outdoor lovers. Whether you’re an avid angler, a boating aficionado, or just someone who loves to pitch a tent under the stars, Lake Camanche has something for everyone. Let’s dive into what makes this place so special and how you can make the most of your camping trip there.

2. Getting to Know Lake Camanche

Overview of the Lake

Lake Camanche is a stunning reservoir nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, extending across Amador, Calaveras, and San Joaquin counties in California. Known for its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking scenery, Lake Camanche camping offers an ideal escape for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike. The lake’s serene environment is perfect for those looking to unwind, while its extensive recreational opportunities cater to thrill-seekers.

The lake itself covers over 7,700 surface acres, providing ample space for a variety of water activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming. With 54 miles of shoreline, there are numerous spots to set up camp, relax by the water, or explore the natural surroundings. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, Lake Camanche has something to offer everyone.

History of Lake Camanche

The history of Lake Camanche is as fascinating as its natural beauty. The lake was formed in 1963 following the construction of the Camanche Dam. This impressive infrastructure project was undertaken by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) to provide flood control, irrigation, and recreational opportunities for the region.

Before the dam’s construction, the area was primarily rural, with scattered communities and farmlands. The creation of Lake Camanche transformed the landscape, offering new recreational possibilities and contributing to the local economy. Over the years, it has grown in popularity, becoming a beloved destination for both locals and visitors. Its rich history adds a layer of intrigue and appreciation for those who come to enjoy its natural beauty and recreational amenities.

Geographical Features

One of the most striking aspects of Lake Camanche is its diverse and picturesque geographical features. The lake’s vast expanse of water is surrounded by rolling hills and lush oak woodlands, creating a scenic backdrop that is both calming and invigorating.

  • Surface Area and Shoreline: With over 7,700 surface acres of water, Lake Camanche offers plenty of space for various activities. The 54 miles of shoreline provide numerous access points for boating, fishing, and swimming. The shoreline varies from sandy beaches to rocky outcrops, each offering unique views and experiences.
  • Rolling Hills and Oak Woodlands: The surrounding landscape is characterized by gently rolling hills covered in a mix of grasslands and oak woodlands. This diverse vegetation supports a wide range of wildlife, making the area a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
  • Water Clarity: The lake is known for its clear waters, which not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also make it an excellent spot for water activities like swimming and snorkeling. The clarity of the water allows for better visibility, which is particularly beneficial for fishing and underwater exploration.
  • Climate: The climate around Lake Camanche is typically mild, with warm summers and cool winters. This makes it a year-round destination, though the best times to visit are during the spring and fall when the weather is most pleasant and the scenery is at its peak.

3. Camping at Lake Camanche

Camping at Lake Camanche offers an incredible experience for outdoor enthusiasts

Camping at Lake Camanche offers an incredible experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking for a bustling, amenity-rich camping spot or a quiet, serene retreat, Lake Camanche has you covered. Here’s an in-depth look at the camping options available on the North Shore, South Shore, and for group campers.

North Shore Camping

If you enjoy a vibrant camping environment with plenty of amenities, North Shore is the perfect choice. Here’s what makes North Shore a top destination for Lake Camanche camping:

RV Sites

  • Full Hook-Up Sites: The RV sites at North Shore come with full hook-up options, including water, sewer, and electrical connections. These sites are ideal for those who prefer the convenience of modern amenities while enjoying the great outdoors.
  • Spacious Layouts: The RV sites are designed to provide ample space, ensuring you have enough room to set up your outdoor living area comfortably.

Tent Sites

  • Lakeside Views: Imagine waking up to the serene view of Lake Camanche. The lakeside tent sites offer stunning views and direct access to the water, making it a prime location for nature lovers.
  • Secluded Spots: If you prefer a bit more privacy, there are secluded tent sites nestled among the trees. These spots provide a peaceful retreat away from the main camping areas.

Restrooms and Showers

  • Clean Facilities: North Shore boasts well-maintained restrooms and hot showers. These facilities are cleaned regularly, ensuring a pleasant and hygienic experience.
  • Convenient Locations: The restrooms and showers are conveniently located throughout the camping area, making them easily accessible from all sites.

Picnic Areas

  • Picnic Tables: Equipped with sturdy picnic tables, the designated picnic areas are perfect for family meals and gatherings.
  • BBQ Grills: Enjoy a classic outdoor cookout with the BBQ grills provided. These areas are ideal for cooking up a delicious meal while enjoying the scenic surroundings.

South Shore Camping

For those seeking a more tranquil and serene camping experience, South Shore offers an excellent alternative. Here’s what you can expect at South Shore:

RV Sites

  • Full Hook-Up Options: Just like North Shore, South Shore offers RV sites with full hook-up options, including water, sewer, and electrical connections. These sites provide the same level of comfort and convenience.
  • Peaceful Environment: The RV sites at South Shore are set in a quieter part of the lake, providing a more peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.

Tent Sites

  • Spacious and Well-Maintained: The tent sites at South Shore are spacious and well-kept, ensuring a comfortable camping experience. Whether you’re camping solo or with a group, there’s plenty of space to spread out.
  • Scenic Surroundings: The tent sites are surrounded by natural beauty, offering picturesque views and a serene environment.

Cabins and Cottages

  • Cozy Accommodations: If you prefer a bit more comfort, South Shore has cozy cabins and cottages available for rent. These accommodations provide a warm and inviting space to relax after a day of outdoor activities.
  • Fully Equipped: The cabins and cottages come equipped with modern amenities, including beds, kitchen facilities, and sometimes even a private bathroom, ensuring a comfortable stay.

Restrooms and Showers

  • Clean and Convenient: South Shore also features clean and convenient restrooms and showers. These facilities are maintained to a high standard, providing a pleasant experience for all campers.

Group Camping Options

Planning a trip with a large group? Lake Camanche offers excellent group camping options that can accommodate your needs. Both North Shore and South Shore have designated group camping areas, perfect for family reunions, scout troops, or any large gathering.

North Shore Group Camping

  • Large Sites: The group camping sites at North Shore are large enough to accommodate multiple tents or RVs. These sites provide plenty of space for your group to set up camp and enjoy the outdoors together.
  • Shared Amenities: Group camping areas come with shared amenities such as picnic tables and BBQ grills, making it easy to prepare and enjoy meals as a group.

South Shore Group Camping

  • Spacious and Secluded: The group camping areas at South Shore are spacious and offer a bit more seclusion, ideal for those looking for a quieter group camping experience.
  • Comfortable Facilities: These areas are equipped with comfortable facilities, including restrooms and showers, ensuring your group has everything they need for a pleasant stay.

4. Activities at Lake Camanche

Lake Camanche camping is not just about pitching a tent and enjoying the serene environment

Lake Camanche camping is not just about pitching a tent and enjoying the serene environment; it’s about engaging in a wide range of exciting activities that make your stay memorable. From fishing to hiking, there’s something for everyone. Let’s dive into the various activities you can enjoy at Lake Camanche.


Lake Camanche is truly a fisherman’s paradise. The lake is stocked with a diverse array of fish species, making it an ideal spot for both novice and experienced anglers. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Fish Species: The lake is home to a variety of fish, including rainbow trout, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill. The diverse fish population ensures that anglers have a great chance of making a good catch.
  • Fishing Seasons: While fishing is available year-round, the best times are during the spring and fall when the water is cooler and fish are more active.
  • Fishing Licenses: Don’t forget to get your fishing license before you cast your line. Licenses can be purchased online or at the lake’s general stores.
  • Fishing Gear: Bring your fishing gear, or rent equipment from the marina. Make sure to pack your tackle box with various lures and baits to match the different fish species.

Fishing Tips:

  • Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to fish, as these are the periods when fish are most active.
  • Use live bait or lures that mimic the natural prey of the fish in Lake Camanche for better results.
  • Check with local anglers or the marina for recent catch reports and the best spots around the lake.


Boating is one of the most popular activities at Lake Camanche. Whether you have your own boat or prefer to rent, the lake offers excellent facilities to ensure a fantastic boating experience.

  • Boat Rentals: If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one from the marina. Options include motorboats, pontoon boats, kayaks, and paddleboards. This allows you to explore the lake at your own pace.
  • Launch Ramps: The lake features several well-maintained launch ramps, making it easy to get your boat in and out of the water.
  • Boating Areas: With over 7,700 surface acres of water, there’s plenty of space for boating. You can explore the open waters or find a quiet cove to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Safety Tips:

  • Always wear a life jacket when on the water.
  • Be aware of weather conditions and avoid boating during storms or high winds.
  • Follow all boating regulations and guidelines to ensure a safe experience for everyone.

Hiking and Trails

Exploring the trails around Lake Camanche is a must for nature enthusiasts. The trails vary in difficulty, offering something for everyone from casual walkers to serious hikers.

  • Trail Options: There are several trails around the lake, each offering unique views and experiences. Some popular trails include the China Gulch Trail and the North Shore Trail.
  • Scenic Views: The trails provide stunning views of the lake, rolling hills, and oak woodlands. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area.
  • Wildlife Spotting: Keep an eye out for local wildlife as you hike. You might spot deer, wild turkeys, and a variety of bird species.

Hiking Tips:


Cooling off in the designated swimming areas is a great way to beat the heat during the summer months.

  • Sandy Beaches: The swimming areas feature sandy beaches, perfect for lounging and playing beach games.
  • Safe Swimming: Designated swimming zones are marked for safety, ensuring a fun and secure experience for swimmers of all ages.

Swimming Tips:

  • Swim in designated areas only.
  • Always supervise children when they are in or near the water.
  • Use sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn.

Wildlife Viewing

The area around Lake Camanche is teeming with wildlife, making it a fantastic destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

  • Wildlife Species: You can spot a variety of animals, including deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, and a wide range of bird species.
  • Bird Watching: The lake is a bird watcher’s paradise. Bring your binoculars and a bird guide to identify different species.

Wildlife Viewing Tips:

  • Move quietly and slowly to avoid startling the animals.
  • Bring binoculars and a camera to get a closer look and capture memories.
  • Respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance and not feeding the animals.

Equestrian Trails

For those who love horseback riding, Lake Camanche offers several equestrian trails that provide a unique way to explore the area.

  • Trail Access: The equestrian trails are well-maintained and offer beautiful views of the lake and surrounding landscape.
  • Horse Rentals: If you don’t have your own horse, you can check for local stables that offer horse rentals and guided trail rides.

Equestrian Tips:

  • Wear appropriate riding gear, including a helmet.
  • Stay on designated equestrian trails to protect the environment.
  • Follow all trail rules and guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride.

Disc Golf

Disc golf is a fun and engaging activity that adds a competitive edge to your camping trip.

  • 18-Hole Course: The South Shore features an 18-hole disc golf course, perfect for both beginners and experienced players.
  • Scenic Course: The course is set in a beautiful natural setting, making the game even more enjoyable.

Tips for Disc Golf:

  • Bring your own discs or rent them from the general store.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for some walking.
  • Follow the course rules and respect other players.

5. Amenities and Facilities

When it comes to Lake Camanche camping, the amenities and facilities available can make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable. From clean restrooms and showers to convenient general stores, Lake Camanche ensures that all your needs are met while you immerse yourself in nature.

Restrooms and Showers

One of the key aspects of a comfortable camping experience is having access to clean and well-maintained restrooms and showers. Both North and South Shore campsites at Lake Camanche are equipped with modern facilities that cater to all campers.

  • Clean Facilities: The restrooms and showers are regularly cleaned and maintained to high standards. This ensures that you have a pleasant and hygienic experience during your stay.
  • Hot Showers: After a day of exploring and engaging in various activities, you can enjoy a hot shower to relax and refresh yourself. Hot showers are available at multiple locations throughout the camping areas.
  • Accessibility: The facilities are strategically placed for easy access from all camping sites, ensuring convenience for all campers, whether you’re staying in an RV, a tent, or a cabin.

Restroom and Shower Tips:

  • Bring your own toiletries, including soap, shampoo, and towels.
  • Wear flip-flops or shower shoes for added comfort and hygiene.
  • Plan your shower times to avoid peak hours if you prefer a quieter experience.

Picnic Areas

Picnic areas are an essential part of the Lake Camanche camping experience. Scattered around the lake, these areas provide perfect spots for family gatherings, meals, and relaxation.

  • Picnic Tables: Each picnic area is equipped with sturdy picnic tables where you can enjoy your meals. These tables are spacious enough to accommodate groups, making them ideal for family outings.
  • BBQ Grills: Enjoy a traditional outdoor cookout with the BBQ grills provided at the picnic areas. These grills are perfect for cooking up burgers, hot dogs, or even freshly caught fish from the lake.
  • Scenic Locations: The picnic areas are located in scenic spots around the lake, offering beautiful views of the water and surrounding nature. Whether you prefer a shady spot under the trees or a sunny area by the lake, there’s a picnic spot to suit your preference.

Picnic Tips:

  • Bring your own charcoal or propane for the BBQ grills.
  • Pack a picnic blanket for additional seating or lounging.
  • Clean up after your meal to keep the area tidy and enjoyable for other campers.

RV Hook-Up Sites

For those who prefer camping with the comforts of an RV, Lake Camanche offers full hook-up sites that provide everything you need for a hassle-free experience.

  • Water, Sewer, and Electrical Connections: The RV sites are equipped with full hook-ups, including water, sewer, and electrical connections. This ensures that you have all the conveniences of home while enjoying the great outdoors.
  • Spacious Sites: The RV sites are designed to be spacious, providing plenty of room for your RV and additional outdoor living space. You can set up chairs, tables, and other camping gear comfortably.
  • Scenic Views: Many of the RV sites offer beautiful views of the lake or the surrounding landscape, enhancing your camping experience.

RV Camping Tips:

  • Reserve your RV site in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  • Ensure your RV is fully stocked with essentials, including food, water, and camping supplies.
  • Follow all site rules and guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable stay.

Tent Sites

For a more traditional camping experience, Lake Camanche offers spacious tent sites on both North and South Shore.

  • Variety of Settings: The tent sites vary in settings, offering everything from lakeside views to secluded spots among the trees. You can choose a site that best fits your camping style and preferences.
  • Well-Maintained: The tent sites are well-maintained, providing flat and clean areas for setting up your tent. This ensures a comfortable camping experience.
  • Accessible Facilities: Restrooms, showers, and picnic areas are easily accessible from all tent sites, adding convenience to your stay.

Tent Camping Tips:

Cabins and Cottages

For those seeking more comfort and convenience, Lake Camanche offers cabins and cottages for rent. These accommodations provide a cozy retreat after a day of outdoor adventures.

  • Comfortable Accommodations: The cabins and cottages are equipped with comfortable beds, kitchen facilities, and sometimes even private bathrooms. This makes them a great option for those who want a more home-like experience while camping.
  • Scenic Locations: Many cabins and cottages are located in scenic areas, offering beautiful views and easy access to the lake and other amenities.
  • Fully Equipped: These accommodations come fully equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay, including furniture, cooking utensils, and bedding.

Cabin and Cottage Tips:

  • Book your cabin or cottage well in advance, as they can fill up quickly during peak seasons.
  • Bring your own food and personal items, as these may not be provided.
  • Enjoy the added comfort and use the extra time to explore more activities around the lake.

General Stores

No camping trip is complete without a few essential supplies, and Lake Camanche has you covered with general stores located on both shores.

  • Camping Supplies: The general stores stock a variety of camping supplies, including firewood, propane, and camping gear. If you forget something or run out of essentials, you can easily restock.
  • Food and Snacks: You can purchase food items, snacks, and beverages at the stores, making it convenient to grab a quick bite or stock up on groceries.
  • Fishing Gear: For anglers, the stores offer a selection of fishing gear, bait, and licenses. This makes it easy to prepare for a day of fishing without having to leave the campsite.

General Store Tips:

  • Check store hours upon arrival to ensure you know when you can shop.
  • Make a list of items you need to purchase to avoid multiple trips.
  • Support the local stores by buying souvenirs and other items during your stay.

6. Tips for a Great Camping Experience at Lake Camanche

Tips for a Great Camping Experience at Lake Camanche

Planning a camping trip at Lake Camanche? Fantastic choice! To ensure you have a memorable and hassle-free experience, here are some essential tips covering reservations, packing, safety precautions, and the best times to visit. Let’s dive into everything you need to know for a perfect Lake Camanche camping adventure.

Making Reservations

To secure your ideal campsite at Lake Camanche, it’s crucial to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons. Here’s how to do it:

  • Online Booking: Visit the official Lake Camanche website where you can view available campsites and make your reservation. This is the easiest and most convenient way to secure your spot.
  • Reservation Line: If you prefer to speak with someone directly, you can call the reservation line. The staff can help you find the best site based on your needs and preferences.
  • Peak Seasons: Lake Camanche is a popular destination, so campsites fill up quickly during spring, summer, and fall. It’s best to book your campsite several months in advance to ensure availability.

Reservation Tips:

  • Check the site map online to choose a campsite that suits your preferences, whether it’s close to the water, near restrooms, or in a secluded area.
  • Have your dates and payment information ready to streamline the booking process.
  • Consider booking for weekdays if you prefer a quieter camping experience, as weekends tend to be busier.

Packing Essentials

Packing the right gear is vital for a comfortable and enjoyable camping trip. Here’s a comprehensive list of essentials to bring for Lake Camanche camping:

Camping Gear:

  • Tent: Choose a tent that fits your group size and is suitable for the weather conditions. Don’t forget stakes and a ground tarp.
  • Sleeping Bags: Bring warm and comfortable sleeping bags. Consider the season and nighttime temperatures when selecting your bag.
  • Cooking Equipment: Pack a portable stove or grill, pots, pans, utensils, and a cooler for storing food. Don’t forget matches or a lighter.
  • Lighting: Headlamps, lanterns, and flashlights are essential for navigating your campsite at night.


  • Layered Clothing: Weather can change quickly, so dress in layers. Bring lightweight shirts, warm sweaters, and a waterproof jacket.
  • Waterproof Gear: In case of rain, pack a waterproof jacket and pants to stay dry.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Bring sturdy hiking boots or shoes for exploring trails and comfortable sandals for lounging around the campsite.

Food and Water:

  • Meal Planning: Plan your meals ahead of time and pack enough food to last your trip. Consider easy-to-cook meals and snacks.
  • Water Supply: Bring enough water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. If you plan to use lake water, bring a filtration system or purification tablets.

Safety Gear:

Packing Tips:

  • Make a checklist before packing to ensure you don’t forget any essentials.
  • Store food in airtight containers to keep it fresh and prevent attracting wildlife.
  • Pack items in waterproof bags to protect them from moisture.

Safety Precautions

Staying safe is paramount while enjoying your camping adventure at Lake Camanche. Here are some key safety tips to keep in mind:

Wildlife Safety:

  • Food Storage: Store food securely in bear-proof containers or in your car to avoid attracting animals. Never leave food out overnight.
  • Animal Awareness: Be aware of local wildlife and know how to react if you encounter animals such as snakes, bears, or coyotes.

Fire Safety:

  • Campfire Regulations: Follow all campfire regulations and guidelines. Use designated fire rings and never leave a fire unattended.
  • Extinguishing Fires: Ensure your campfire is completely extinguished before leaving your site or going to bed. Use water to douse the fire and stir the ashes until they are cold.

Weather Awareness:

  • Check the Forecast: Always check the weather forecast before your trip and be prepared for changing conditions.
  • Shelter and Gear: Bring appropriate shelter and gear for the weather, including rain covers for tents and extra blankets for cold nights.

General Safety Tips:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water, especially during hot weather and physical activities.
  • Sun Protection: Use sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from sunburn.
  • First Aid Knowledge: Familiarize yourself with basic first aid procedures and know how to use your first aid kit.

Best Times to Visit

Timing your visit to Lake Camanche can significantly impact your camping experience. Here are the best times to visit based on weather and crowd levels:

Spring (March to May):

  • Mild Weather: Spring offers mild temperatures, making it a pleasant time for outdoor activities.
  • Wildlife and Blooms: This season is perfect for wildlife viewing and enjoying blooming flowers and lush greenery.
  • Fewer Crowds: Early spring, in particular, tends to be less crowded than summer.

Summer (June to August):

  • Warm Temperatures: Summer is ideal for water activities like swimming, boating, and fishing.
  • Busy Season: Be prepared for larger crowds, especially on weekends and holidays.
  • Extended Daylight: Longer days mean more time to enjoy outdoor activities.

Fall (September to November):

  • Cooler Temperatures: Fall brings cooler weather, making it comfortable for hiking and exploring.
  • Beautiful Scenery: The changing leaves create stunning scenery around the lake.
  • Less Busy: Crowds begin to thin out after Labor Day, offering a more peaceful camping experience.

Winter (December to February):

  • Quiet and Serene: Winter is the quietest season, perfect for those seeking solitude.
  • Cold Weather: Be prepared for colder temperatures and potential rain. Not all amenities may be available during the off-season.

Visiting Tips:

  • Plan your activities based on the season. For example, summer is best for water sports, while spring and fall are great for hiking and wildlife viewing.
  • If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the weekdays or in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall).

7. Conclusion

Lake Camanche is a fantastic destination for campers of all kinds. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an action-packed adventure, this beautiful lake has it all. With its diverse camping options, abundant activities, and stunning scenery, Lake Camanche is sure to provide an unforgettable outdoor experience. So pack your gear, gather your friends and family, and head to Lake Camanche for your next camping trip!

8. FAQs

  1. Can I make a reservation for camping at Lake Camanche?
    Yes, you can make reservations online through the official Lake Camanche website or by calling their reservation line.
  2. Are there any restrictions on campfires?
    Campfire restrictions may apply depending on the season and weather conditions. It’s best to check current regulations before your visit.
  3. What types of fish can I catch in Lake Camanche?
    Lake Camanche is stocked with a variety of fish, including rainbow trout, largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie.
  4. Are there any guided tours or activities available?
    Yes, the lake offers guided fishing tours and various seasonal activities. Check the official website for current offerings.
  5. Is there a store or market nearby for supplies?
    Both North Shore and South Shore have general stores where you can purchase camping supplies, snacks, and other essentials.


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Mark Thompson

Greetings, I'm Mark Thompson. The outdoors - from camping under the stars to hiking rugged trails and mastering wilderness survival - has been my passion and teacher. Each adventure has deepened my respect for nature and honed my skills. At Outdoor Saga, I'm here to share my insights, experiences, and passion with you. Whether you're a seasoned trekker or a newbie camper, join me as we explore the wonders of the wild. Adventure beckons, and together, we'll answer its call!

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