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7 Lake Cachuma Activities you’ll Love

Located in Santa Barbara County, Lake Cachuma is a wonderful getaway destination for campers, birdwatchers, and hikers. The location is superb, the area calm and the views are spectacular. 

Check out the following guide with helpful information on what to expect from a quick Lake Cachuma getaway.

Let’s dive in!

Lake Cachuma California
Lake Cachuma California

Camping at Lake Cachuma

There are two types of campers; ones that prefer to completely detach from the world and ones that would rather have their homely comforts while connecting with nature.

Luckily, Lake Cachuma offers the best of both worlds! It offers some nice secluded areas where you can enjoy the breeze from the lake and astounding surrounding views whilst at the same time you have access to amenities like showerS and flush toilets.

There are three major ways you can camp in Lake Cachuma:

  • RV sites
  • Tent camping
  • Yurts and cabins

RV sites

RV sites are wide and level with a huge road that allows easy backing. We hear the best sites are 99, 101, 117 119 and 121 since they have beautiful shade during the day and they’re close to the lake.

There is also an RV group area available if you’re bringing a large group.

If RV camping is your thing – check out these 11 Best California RV Parks – they won’t disappoint!

Tent Camping

If you want spots closest to the lake, tents are your best bet. Spots 299-313, for instance, are right next to the lake and you can start fishing as soon as you roll off your mattress.

Each tent site comes with a fire pit and a picnic table. The restrooms are well-placed in a convenient distance and many have hot showers.

Yurts and cabins

Scattered throughout the picturesque park and usually at the most scenic points around the lake, both cabins and yurts provide an awesome glamping experience.

Yurts mostly come with a redwood deck from where you can enjoy the sunset. If you like mixing luxury with wilderness, then 4 -star camping on the cabins may be the best option. 

Lake Cachuma Camping
Lake Cachuma Camping

Price: Basic camping April 1 through September 30th – $30, Basic camping October 1 through March 31st $25

Why we love it: The camping grounds are clean and there is a little general store where you can restock or buy some of the things you might have forgotten.

Remember to bring: first aid kits, snake bite kits, and anti-itch cream – just to be safe!

Boat Rental at Lake Cachuma

Lake Cachuma is a domestic water supply so swimming, skiing or windsurfing aren’t allowed. All kinds of inflatable crafts including rafts are also not allowed in the lake.

Though Lake Cachuma is a non-body contact reservoir lake boating is a permitted water activity here.  You can rent a boat, explore, swivel and have a spectacular 360 view of the lake with a beautiful mountains backdrop.

Price: $ 30-$135 2 hours (depending on the type of the boat)

Why we love it: getting out on the water is always fun!

Don’t Forget: before heading out on the lake, it’s important to review boating regulations.

Guided Nature Walks

Self guided nature walks around Lake Cachuma are worth a weekend trip. It’s even more rewarding when you join a guided nature walk.

The center is a non-profit and private organization full of amazing interactive exhibits for kids and adults alike about the local culture and natural history of Lake Cachuma.

Join a trained interpretive guide for a wonderful half a mile walk exploring through the wilderness and oak woodland plus the lakeside ecology. 

The Don Wimpress trail weaves through a mixture of plant species including oak savannah and chaparral. Nature walks starts and ends in the Neal Taylor Nature Center.

Lake Cachuma Hiking
Lake Cachuma Hiking

Price: Free with a Park Entry Fee

Why We Love it: they offer hours of educational fun for free

Don’t Forget: to bring a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water, you can also bring sturdy shoes for the trails.

Nature Cruises at Lake Cachuma

Lake Cachuma is a flourishing habitat for a variety of wildlife, plants & trees, birds and fish. Their 2- hour nature cruise with Park Naturalist offer great insights into the area’s cultural and natural riches.

The winter season brings forth both resident and migratory bald eagles plus waterfowl while in the spring wildflowers spangle the hills creating the most scenic views. Cruise guides are knowledgeable and they know exactly where to find interesting wildlife.

Nature cruises usually involve boarding pontoon boats which happen to be the gentlest and the safest water vessels. They usually have 30 seats so it’s a perfect activity for large family and groups. The tour is perfect for the whole family especially age 5 and up.

Price: Approximately – Adults $15, kids, $10

Why We Love it: The Pontoons usually have 30 seats making this excursion a perfect activity for large family and groups.

Don’t forget: to apply sunscreen

Junior Ranger Program

Junior Ranger Programs involves joining a County Park Naturalist where they offer information on stewardship and the environment.

The junior Rangers stand a chance to win a badge if they take part in picking up litter from the park, and participating in other fun activities at the Neal Taylor Nature Center.

This program runs year-round on Saturdays. If you can’t make it on this day, you can call in advance to schedule the perfect day and time or ask ‘Jr Ranger To-Go’ option.

Lake Cachum Junior Ranger
Lake Cachum Junior Ranger

Price: $3

Why We Love it: The kids are involved in fun activities and earn badges which keep them pretty excited

Don’t Forget: sunscreen & water

Nearby Wine Tours

With its sprawling ranches plus endless miles of vineyards and orchards, the Santa Ynez Valley is pretty popular for its wine and it’s a fun activity that shouldn’t miss in your Lake Cachuma itinerary.

Enjoy awe-inspiring lush valley views, breath-taking scenery and stop at the best wineries in the region.

You can bring a bottle back to basecamp and enjoy it with a grilled steak. Most tour companies will pick you up from the campsite, take you around to the finest wineries and then bring you back.

Both Solvang and the quaint charming town of Los Olivos have beautiful tasting rooms along their main streets to enhance your wine tasting experience and make it even easier.

Price; Starting around $150 (semi-private tour)

Why We Love it: wine tours…need we say more!

Don’t Forget: Have a driving plan in advance – whether it be a designated driver or a vineyard shuttle.

Fishing at Lake Cachuma

With a shoreline stretching 42 miles long fishing is another popular activity in Lake Cachuma.

There are many species available like Bass, Trout, Catfish, Bluegill, and Carp. Fishing will provide hours of fun for all ages and it’s a great way to keep all members of the family involved.

If you’re a novice, they rent out poles. We hear the best spots for fishing are off the shores near the marina or by the dam.

Lake Cahuma Fishing
Lake Cahuma Fishing

Local tip: For trout fishing, you can have a good catch in the deep water by the dam and in Cachuma Bay while for shore anglers fishing around Harvey Cove, the Marina area and E point is immensely rewarding.

Bow fishing for carp is allowed in Lake Cachuma and you can obtain a no-fee permit at the entrance of the Park.

Price: $ 10

Why We Love it: you can catch a fish for dinner…fish tacos, please! 🙂 

Don’t Forget: to get your fishing license, rods, lures and refreshments.

Lake Cachuma: Conclusion

The best part of heading to Lake Cachuma is the fact that all family members can come along; for a reasonable daily pet fee, you can also bring your four legged friend.

However, you have to keep them leashed!

Generally, Cachuma Lake recreational area is a haven for nature enthusiast and people who love being outdoors. It offers varied activities to keep every member of the family happy.

The Best FREE Camping in the USA

We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.

If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.

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