San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

San Luis Reservoir Recreation Area is a public recreation area in California near Gustine in Merced County, offering a multitude of outdoor recreation alongside a camping experience that isn’t to be missed. The campgrounds are equipped with modern facilities that will add to the comfort of your visit – the greatest being the availability of Wi-Fi. Camping is offered year-round with April to September being the most crowded times of the year.

There is so much to explore and enjoy at the park. RV campers are entertained with an abundance of outdoor activities in the form of both water and land recreation. Three beautiful lakes, O’ Neill Forebay, San Luis Reservoir, and Los Banos Creek, allow campers to relax and rejuvenate their senses with sports like boating, fishing, and swimming. Five picnic sites along the shores of O’ Neill Forebay invite campers with picnics on their minds. There are opportunities for horseback riders to enjoy both equine camping and horseback riding. Hiking and bicycling are also favorite activities at the park. If you are curious to learn more about the historical and geographical aspects of the region, stop your trailer by the Visitor Center near the Romero Overlook Trail to discover little or never known facts about the reservoirs and major water projects.

RV Rentals in San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area

Transportation in San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area

Driving

San Luis Reservoir Recreation Area can be accessed in less than half an hour via car or RV from the city of Merced. The park lies within the western side of San Joaquin Valley near the mountainous Pacheco Pass less than 15 miles away.

All kinds of RVs are allowed on the roads. No camper, motorhome, trailer, or campervan is allowed on any hiking trail. Parking is only permitted in your designated campsite or marked parking areas. Do not park anywhere else except a designated parking space or your campsite. Parking in another camper’s site is prohibited.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area

Campsites in San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area

Reservations camping

San Luis Creek Campground

Offering year-round reservations and electric and water hookups, San Luis Creek Campground is one of the two camp areas situated near O’Neill Forebay and the only one with hookups. There are 53 campsites, all boasting electric (30-amp) and water connections. A few campsites offer excellent views of the shore. The campground is not very well-shaded and is prone to disturbances from the winds. RV length for RVs like campers, motorhomes, and trailers is 30 feet or less. Each site comes with a level pad, fire ring, and a table. There are no flush toilets or showers. A dump station is available. Campers can use the new five-mile accessible trail to use the North Beach Day Use Area.

Basalt Campground

The campground with the maximum number of campsites, Basalt sits near San Luis Reservoir in a well-shaded, wind-protected valley featuring 79 family-friendly campsites. On-site amenities include water faucets, restrooms with showers and flush toilets, and a dump station. Campers are provided a picnic table, grill, and fire ring complimentarily. There are no hookup sites in the campground.

Not all, but some sites accommodate campers, motorhomes, and trailers up to 30 feet in length. Others offer accommodations for vehicles smaller than 30 feet. Camping is a year-round activity, and the campground offers reservations.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area

In-Season

Horseback Riding and Bicycling

Camping with horses is incredible. And San Luis Reservoir Recreation Area has plenty of recreation that includes your horses. So, what are you waiting for? Book an RV campsite for yourself in the horse camp. And while you are camping, take your horse along with you on the equine trails to enjoy a spectacular horseback ride through some incredibly scenic locations. You can also enjoy cycling on the California Aqueduct Bikeway, part of which begins from the San Luis Creek.

Picnicking

If getting wet is not a part of your plans for this RV camping trip, there is an abundance of recreation awaiting you on the land. Picnicking is one such activity. Five picnic shelters for large group gatherings can be found near the shores of O’ Neill Forebay on both North and South Beach Day Use Areas. The shelters feature plenty of shade, ramadas, lush green grass, BBQ grills, and cemented tables. Simply put, there is everything you need to make your picnic a joyful success.

Swimming and Boating

San Luis Reservoir Recreation Area comprises three beautiful lakes: O’ Neill Forebay, San Luis Reservoir, and Los Banos Creek. The lakes are jam-packed with visitors and campers during the summer season. A large number of RV campers love cooling off in the summer heat at these lakes. The favorite activities at the lake include swimming and boating. There is no beach in the park, but still swimming is one of the most attractive recreations at the lake. Boating is also allowed in all of the three lakes – follow the speed limit rules different for different lakes.

Off-Season

Hunting

If you visit during the off-season, you may avail the hunting opportunities at San Luis if a hunting season is established during your time of visit. Mostly hunting is allowed during the off-season, and you can hunt waterfowls in selected areas of the park. Hunting is not permitted near the lakes, boat ramps, and campgrounds within a distance of 500 feet to ensure the safety of non-hunting visitors. Only licensed hunters are allowed to indulge in the sport. There are also opportunities for the beginners on a one square mile flat ground in within the park.

Geocaching

If you love the snow-covered, wintry outdoors, bring your GPS and get set geocaching – the sport is a wonderful means of enjoying your favorite winter scenery. Several geocaches are hidden at numerous locations of the park. You will be rummaging quite a lot, and isn’t this a fancy way of trying to keep yourselves fit? Also, geocaching in winter can be double the fun – how about snowshoeing and geocaching at the same time?

Hiking

Take a stroll in nature’s wonderland by hiking the beautiful trails of San Luis Reservoir Recreation Area. You must not miss hiking the Basalt Campground Trail which you will discover in no time by walking a little to the right of its namesake campground. The six-mile round Lone Oak Trail is for those who are looking for a more strenuous hike uphill above the lake. The trail begins at the parking lot by the boat ramp making it easier for those who wish to park their RVs aside.

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