Skip to Content

The Modesto Reservoir Road Trip Guide

The Modesto Reservoir Road Trip Guide

The Modesto Reservoir Road Trip Guide

If you love water recreation, then Modesto Reservoir is a great option the next time you’re in California’s Central Valley.

Several must-do recreation experiences exist in California such as touching Half Dome at Yosemite, enduring the heat in Death Valley, or walking among the massive sequoia trees. California also has some excellent inland water spots waiting to be discovered – including the Modesto Reservoir.

Let’s dive in!

Where Is Modesto Reservoir? 

Modesto Reservoir’s address is 18143 Reservoir Rd, Waterford, California 95386. It’s located in Stanislaus County and is about 20 miles east of Modesto, California.

Therefore, a day trip from Modesto to the reservoir is easily possible. Sacramento is the nearest major city, which is about 95 miles to the northwest.

About Modesto Reservoir

Modesto Reservoir offers 2800 acres of water and 3240 acres of land for visitors to enjoy. And its elevation is an easy 217 feet above sea level. Modesto Dam’s completion in 1911 created the reservoir, which was officially finished in 1915.

There’s a per vehicle fee to enter, which is $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents, and you can enjoy the reservoir year-round.

Those visiting the area are rewarded with a variety of activities. For example, you’ll be able to enjoy boating, fishing, water sports, and swimming. There’s also an archery range! In addition, the water is stocked with traditional rainbow trout, red-ear sunfish, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill.

Keep in mind, Modesto Reservoir doesn’t allow pets at or in the water. Lifeguards are not on duty either, so swim at your own risk. Boating hours are during daylight hours only, which means you’ll need to plan your time accordingly. 

Best Hikes Near Modesto Reservoir 

If the reservoir isn’t enough to keep you busy, there are plenty of nearby activities for you to enjoy. Hiking is a great way to spend some time before coming back to the reservoir to cool down. So let’s check out some great hiking options close to Modesto Reservoir.  

Tuolumne River Parkway

Tuolumne River Parkway is a 3.8-mile out-and-back trail. To access the trail, hikers must climb up and down 130 steps. Once on the trail, hikers consider the trek to be easy and enjoy this hike year-round.

The focal point of the parkway is surely the gorgeous river. Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We noted that construction is limiting this trail to one mile until 2022.

Turlock State Recreation Area Hike

The Turlock State Recreation Area Hike is a 2.9-mile out-and-back. The trail features a lake and is excellent for hikers of all ages. Expect an elevation change of only 190 feet and a mixture of paved and sand surfaces.

Visitors can enjoy beach areas in addition to views of geese and other wildlife while on the hike. Leashed dogs are also permitted while on this trail.  

Best Campgrounds Near Modesto Reservoir 

Those looking to stay for a few days might consider camping near Modesto Reservoir. Thankfully there are a few good places to park your RV or pitch a tent in the area. So, let’s look at a few of the best campgrounds we’ve found nearby

Modesto Reservoir Regional Park

Modesto Reservoir Regional Park is in the middle of the action. Indeed, campers have full access to the reservoir, including a boat ramp and swimming options. 

The campground is home to 134 RV full hookup sites and 36 tent sites with picnic tables and barbecues available at each. Campers have access to a bathroom and shower house if needed. Furthermore, those hosting a larger event can utilize a group camping area that holds up to 30 people. 

Turlock State Recreation Area

Turlock State Recreation Area is an exceptional state park close to Modesto Reservoir Regional Park. It’s open year-round for your enjoyment and has many activities visitors can partake in, such as fishing, swimming, boating, and skiing. The recreation area certainly provides visitors with a breath of fresh air and plenty of beautiful landscapes.

The campground at Turlock State Recreation Area is dry camping only. However, there are no RV hookups, which means RVs will need to come prepared with a power plan. In addition, generators are only allowed between 10 AM and 8 PM. There are restrooms and showers available for campers to use if needed.

Access to the river as well as 2 boat ramps is provided to campers as well.  

Is a Modesto Reservoir Road Trip Worth It? 

It’s always fun to work a new place into your travel plans. And, sometimes, a day by the water is precisely what you need. It may not be easy to justify an out-of-state trip to Modesto Reservoir.

If it’s along your travel route, though, it’s certainly worth a stop and can easily serve as a day trip or a long weekend getaway. If you enjoy water recreation, Modesto Reservoir is sure to be a hit!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

%d bloggers like this: