Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is located in Whiskeytown, California. Established back in 1965, the park is a nature lover’s dream nestled at the intersection between the Klamath Mountain range and the Sacramento Valley. Visitors can look forward to all sorts of outdoor recreation here, such as camping, swimming, boating, fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, and hiking.
On top of 36 miles of shoreline along Whiskeytown Lake, the park is surrounded by gorgeous beaches, mountains, waterfalls, towering Ponderosa pines, oak woodlands, and 70 miles of hiking trails. Visitors can also try their luck panning for gold and tracing the park’s history back to the days of the California Gold Rush. The area is home to a vast array of fascinating wildlife and birds, so keep your eyes peeled for nesting bald eagles, osprey, deer, and bears.
As Whiskeytown has a Mediterranean climate, visitors will enjoy hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The scorching summer months reach well into the 90s and often peak over 100 degrees Fahrenheit - perfect for lake activities and lazy beach days! In the winter months you can expect snow on the mountains as well as plenty of rain.
There are quite a few campgrounds to choose from within the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Some cater for tents only and others to RVs and trailers only. If you’d prefer more primitive sites you can reserve the basic campsites or otherwise book a free permit to enjoy backcountry camping in a quiet spot of your choosing.
The Visitor Center at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area can be found along JF Kennedy Memorial Road, off Highway 299 (Eureka Way). It’s an easy drive from the town of Redding.
Once within the park, watch out for roaming wildlife and low-hanging branches. There is plenty of parking available within the park for day visitors, such as at the boat launch area and the Visitor Center. Campers staying overnight can park their rigs in one of the campgrounds.
If you aren’t driving, you can get around on foot or by bike along one of the many trails. Boating is also a popular way to explore Whiskeytown Lake.
You can enjoy backcountry camping at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area if you register at the Visitor Center. This backcountry permit is free. There are no facilities.
Dry Creek Group Tent Campground is open most of the year. It offers two group sites for 20 to 50 people (larger groups can reserve both sites for up to 100 people). Each has two serving tables, picnic tables, a large fire pit area, vault toilets, potable water, and bear-proof storage lockers. There are no showers. These sites are available by reservation only.
Crystal Creek Campground is open most of the year, but closed during winter (November to March). It has two campsites that cater for up to six people with two tents each. Facilities include vault toilets. Take note that these campsites are located close to the creek. These sites can be reserved in advance.
The Horse Camp is open all year round. It offers two group campsites for campers with horses (campers without horses can also reserve this site on a first come, first served basis). Each site can accommodate up to six people in two tents. Facilities include vault toilets and potable water. These sites can be reserved in advance.
The Peltier Bridge Campground is open all year round. It offers nine campsites catering for six people with a maximum of two tents per site. Facilities include vault toilets. Take note that these sites are located close to the creek. These sites can be reserved in advance.
The Sheep Camp is open most of the year, but closed during winter (November to March).. The campground has four campsites. Each caters for six people with two tents. Facilities include vault toilets. Take note that the campsites are located near a steep drop-off to the creek. These sites can be reserved in advance.
Brandy Creek Campground offers two campsites for tents only. Each site can accommodate up to six people with two tents. Facilities include vault toilets. Please note that there is a steep road leading down to this campsite. These sites can be reserved in advance.
The primitive campsites can be found away from the lake along a gravel road. They are available for tents or RVs up to a length of 25 feet (larger sites may be available elsewhere so call ahead to check). You can reserve the primitive campsites up to six months in advance. A maximum of six people are permitted per campsite. They are reservation-only. Facilities include fire rings, picnic tables, food storage lockers, and restrooms. These sites can be reserved in advance.
Oak Bottom RV Campground offers 22 RV campsites that are open all year round. Each campsite accommodates up to 10 people but tents are not permitted. Facilities include fire rings, potable water, a central dump station, and restrooms with showers and flush toilets. There are no hookups for RVs and the campsites don’t have shade. Pets are permitted at an extra cost. These sites can be reserved in advance.
The Oak Bottom Tent Campground offers 94 campsites for tents beside the lake. It’s open all year round. Each site accommodates a maximum of two tents sleeping six people. A handicap accessible site is available. Facilities include fire rings, potable water and central restrooms with showers and flush toilets. Pets are permitted at an extra cost. These sites can be reserved in advance.
Brandy Creek RV Campground has 37 campsites for RVs and trailers up to 32 feet in length. It’s open all year round. Each campsite can accommodate up to 10 people but tents are not permitted. Facilities include paved sites, a dump station, and potable water (but these may be shut off in winter to prevent freezing). There are no hookups or restrooms. These campsites are available on a first come, first served basis.
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area offers sheltered picnic areas for visitors complete with picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms. The picnic areas can be found at Brandy Creek, Oak Bottom, and at the boat launch area. If you’re planning on visiting with a large group, you can reserve the picnic area across from the lake. Handicap accessible picnic areas are available at Oak Bottom and Brandy Creek.
With heaps of waterfalls nearby, 36 miles of shoreline and over 70 miles of hiking trails to explore, the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area can be enjoyed by hikers all year round. Dress warmly and head out onto the trails in winter, or enjoy the milder fall climate. Be sure to check with the Visitor Center for the latest trail and weather conditions. Maps can also be picked up at the Visitor Center.
Anglers will be in their element at the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. There is 36 miles of gorgeous lake shoreline to enjoy, and fishing is permitted both along the shore and from a boat (a boat launch area is available in the park). Whiskey Creek also offers a handicap accessible fishing pier. Please note that a California state fishing license is required to fish in the park.
There are over 70 miles of mountainous hiking trails to discover at your leisure within the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Whether you’re looking for a moderate, easy, or challenging hike you’ll find one to suit you. Choose from the one-mile Buck Hollow Trail accessible by foot, bike, or horseback, the 2.75-mile Boulder Creek Trail, the 4.5-mile Clear Creek Canal Trail, and many more.
There are free ranger programs held in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area during the summer months. These programs are a great way for the whole family to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. They also include activities such as ‘Junior Firefighter’ programs, star gazing, stand-up paddleboarding, and more. Kayak tours are available too, but have to be booked a fortnight in advance.
Set on a huge lake with 36 miles of shoreline, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is a great spot for water recreation - particularly during the hot summer months. Visitors can enjoy boating, kayaking, swimming, sailing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, and fishing on the lake with a gorgeous mountain backdrop. Or simply hang out on one of the park’s pretty beaches (lifeguards are on duty at Brandy Creek only during summer). If you’re boating, please make sure that you adhere to the life jacket, fishing and boating license requirements.