Millerton Lake State Recreation Area is home to one of California’s greatest lakes. Millerton Lake boasts over 40 miles of shoreline and 4,900 surface acres of water. The mild weather, rolling hills, and sparkling water welcomes recreational seekers year round, and because the location is twenty miles north of Fresno, adventure seekers don’t have to go far to find outdoor activities like camping and boating.
Millerton Lake SRA offers many amenities for guests who want to stay overnight. The heart of the park’s activities, like camping and water recreation, begin at the North Shore area. The North Shore Campground has RV and tent camping facilities with close access to drinking water, restrooms, showers, as well as many of the park’s most popular activities.
Millerton Lake, formed from a dam in the San Joaquin River, provides drinking water, irrigation, and maintains flood control for much of the surrounding cities and farm areas. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation manages the dam, and they partner with California State Parks over the operation and maintenance of Millerton Lake. The partnership allows the park the opportunity to give back to the community by providing a clean and safe recreational location while still giving water back to the areas of California that need it the most. RV campers who like waterfront camping and water activities should add Millerton Lake SRA to their list of places to visit in the Fresno vicinity.
Millerton Lake State Recreation Area is located 27 miles northeast of Fresno, California.
Entry fees vary by activity and season. Guests may purchase day use passes or annual passes. Boating and other activities may be an additional cost on top of the daily entry and overnight camping fees.
Visitors arriving after park hours must get a gate access code for entry. The gates remain closed outside of the operational hours.
The North Shore Recreation Area Campground provides RV campers with plenty of hookup options from full hookups sites to dry camping sites. Some of the loops operate seasonally, while other loops remain open year-round. Campers may choose from waterfront spaces or inland spaces, with the max allowed trailer and motorhome length up to 36 feet. The sites are paved with a fire ring, picnic table, grill, and food locker. The campground is a multi-loop facility with each loop offering something a little different. The pet-friendly facility has restrooms with flushing toilets, vault toilets, pay showers, and a dump station. Generators are permitted, but only outside of the park’s quiet hours which are between 8:00 pm and 10:00 am.
Bring your boats and spend the day exploring the lake. Millerton Lake SRA has three boat ramps with parking near each of the launches. The Millerton Lake Marina has boat slips, boat rentals, snacks, and gasoline, so you don’t have to leave the lake to fuel your boat or your stomach. Guests who don’t have boats but want to play on the water can rent kayaks, paddleboards, pontoon boats, jet skis, ski boats, and other water equipment from the marina. During the summer, the lake hosts or stages sailboat races and regattas, so boat fanatics will have plenty of things to see and do on the water during the summer.
Anglers, escape the hustle and bustle of the park and find a quiet place along the lake’s shoreline to cast your reel. Anglers age 16 and older who hold a valid California fishing license can try and catch one of the lake’s catfish or bass. If you like to fish, but you’d prefer to watch others, then try to visit during one of the many fishing tournaments that the lake hosts during the warmer months. If you prefer to fish from the lake, bring your boat or rent a boat from the park’s marina.
The park has many programs created to educate park guests about the history, geography, and the natural resources of the area. While many of the activities are geared towards entertaining kids, all of the events are family-friendly. During the summer months, the park hosts campfire programs and guided interpretive programs. Kids interested in becoming Junior Rangers can pick up a packet and become a Junior Ranger any time of the year. Call the park office for questions or more information about the events taking place during your visit.
Millerton Lake is one of the best bald eagle viewing locations in the San Joaquin Valley because of the large population of wintering bald eagles. While eagles may be spotted year-round, the winter months are the best months to see the majestic creatures. During the winter the eagles migrate more than 1,600 miles and rest along the shore of the lake and nest. Contact the park during the winter to reserve your place on a bald eagle boat tour. The park has winter tours that bring bird lovers to the lake’s heavily-populated eagle areas.
The bald eagles aren’t the only animal for wildlife watchers to see during their stay at Millerton Lake. Different birds like golden eagles, migratory birds, and waterfowl use the lake as a habitat or a waypoint along their journeys. Small animals like badgers, possums, skunks, and fox frequent the area as well as larger creatures like mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, and deer. Rattlesnakes are also common, so whether you want to see a snake or avoid a snake, keep your eyes peeled!
The park’s multi-use trails provide varying levels of trail difficulty ranging from flat paths to challenging bike trails, and there are even trails that allow horses. The park offers a ¼ mile interpretive path that tells hikers about the park’s natural and cultural resources, so families that want a leisurely walk with interesting information should plan to spend time on the interpretive trail. Depending on the path, some trails allow bikes, foot traffic, and horses, while some trails only allow hikers. Pick up a park map at the entrance, and decide what kind of challenge you want for the day. Choose from a two-mile trail to an 11-mile trail, and spend your day discovering the scenic atmosphere of the area.