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Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake

Rent a houseboat to explore the state’s largest reservoir

There’s plenty of room to move on this 30,000-acre reservoir, the largest in California. Located 10 miles north of Redding, a typical summer day finds the crystal blue waters sprinkled with fishing boats, jet skis, inner tubes—almost anything that floats. Especially houseboats. Some 370 miles of shoreline wrap around mirror-smooth coves ideal for anchoring. Cast for bass, crappie, catfish, and sturgeon, and keep your eyes peeled for as bald eagles and osprey soaring overhead. Or just kick back with a cocktail on the deck of your floating vacation home and drink in views of Mt. Shasta’s perennially snowcapped, 14,180-foot peak. Rentals from marinas and resorts around the lake range from basic models with comfortable accommodations to multi-tiered, floating palaces, with whirlpool spas, gourmet kitchens, and master suites with flat-screen TVs. Camping is also an option—there are several campgrounds in the area, some accessible by boat only.

Other worthwhile stops around the lake include a free tour of Shasta Dam. At 602 feet, it’s the second-largest concrete dam in the country; stop by the visitors center to see photos of it being constructed and, if you’re lucky enough to be there for a drawdown (release), watch the water crash into the drainage area from a viewing platform. After, enjoy a dinner cruise around the lake. You might want to prime your visit by listening to “This Land is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie’s ode to America, which he wrote while helping build the dam’s arch barrier. Another year-round adventure: take a guided tour of Lake Shasta Caverns, a fascinating underground world 250 million years in the making—and only accessible by boat (ride included with tour).