Shasta Lake facts, statistics and data (2023)

Shasta's 'Lakes'

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE - Shasta Lake, keystone of the Central Valley Project, is the largest man-made reservoir in California. When full, its 365 mile shoreline exceeds that of San Francisco Bay. Shasta is the second largest and tallest concrete dam in the United States. It was constructed between 1935 and 1945, and the lake was filled in 1948.

The construction of Shasta Dam impounded three major north state rivers: The Pit, McCloud, and Sacramento. Referred to as arms, each one retains its own character, environment, history and recreation opportunities.

People who have never been to Shasta Lake may get the impression they are seeing several lakes as they pass by on Interstate 5. In a way, there really are more lakes than one.

The rugged country, ragged shoreline, and sheer size of Shasta Lake tends to break the lake into different areas, each with its own opportunities, moods, and settings.

For more information or help, the Shasta Lake Information Center is in Mountain Gate, telephone (530) 275-1589.

Lakehead Area

The Lakehead Area, with its fast pace and easy access off Interstate 5, offers a wide variety of services and recreation pursuits. It is convenient for those planning a short visit or an extended stay. It is located near a community which has many services.

From the Antlers Boat Ramp or a number of marinas, skiing, houseboating and fishing are easily accessible on the Sacramento Arm of the lake.

Forest Service and commercial campgrounds are available, or there are resort cabins for rent. At Lakehead you can choose between a campfire supper, full course meal, pizza or burgers for dinner.

For a vacation full of variety and action, the Lakehead Area is a good choice.

Salt Creek Area

Salt Creek is easily accessible from Interstate 5 and wonderfully suited to the overnighter, boater or fisherman. Yet, it is not as active an area as Lakehead.

Camping facilities range from a commercial recreation vehicle park to the Forest Service drive-in or the more secluded walk-in camps.

(Video) Higher water level at Lake Shasta is actually another sign of worsening drought

The Salt Creek Area is also the gateway to the Gilman Road Area and the McCloud Arm of the lake.

Gilman Road Area

The Gilman Road exit off Interstate 5 provides access to the McCloud Arm of the lake and a world removed from the noise and hurry of the freeway. The Forest Service campgrounds here can best be described in one word - relaxed.

The area boasts 5 family camps, several group camps, the Dekkas Rock day-use lake access and picnic areas and launching at the Hirz Bay public ramp. The gradual shoreline below most campgrounds makes moorage convenient. Complete boating services are available at the marinas in the O'Brien area to the south. Boating, hiking, fishing, hunting and even spelunking are popular activities in this area.

Sold on the McCloud Arm ---If so, here are two words of caution --- supplies and bears. The store at Salt Creek is the last chance for services. Beyond lies "bear country." Keep food in secure containers inside vehicles: clean tables thoroughly after meals; use garbage containers; and do not feed or tease the bears.

O'Brien Area

The O'Brien Area is at the hub of the lake and provides central access to all arms. Though rural in nature, the area offers a wide variety of opportunities. Each marina and campground appears isolated amidst the thick oak and pine forests and the steep, rugged country.

The O'Brien Area is a sharp contrast to the Lakehead Area. Although both offer similar facilities and recreation choices, each is a unique outdoor experience. At O'Brien, there are resort/marinas, a public campground, launch ramps and the Lake Shasta Caverns tours.

Jones Valley Area

East of Jones Valley, on the Pit Arm, lies much of Shasta Lake's subtle beauty. Bald Eagle, Osprey, and sportsmen all fish together in the finest bass habitat on the lake. Here also, boaters discover wildlife, challenging skiing, and solitude in its long, meandering coves.

Forest Service facilities include: the Jones Valley Campgrounds, Jones Inlet beach camping area, Rocky Ridge Group Camp and the Jones Valley public boat ramp. The two resort marinas have complete services. Additional stores, gas, restaurants, and taverns can be found nearby along Bear Mountain Road.

Whether exploring, escaping, or improving skiing techniques, the Jones Valley Area is a good place to begin the adventure or end the day.


Shasta Dam Area

Directly behind Shasta Dam is a wide basin formed by the confluence of the Sacramento and Pit Rivers. Spectacular views of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen backdrop the steep shores and islands in this area.

Although there are no overnight facilities near the dam, lodging is available in the nearby communities. Boats may be launched at Centimudi Ramp, and services are available at several nearby resorts.


There are literally hundreds of coves and bays within the 365-mile shoreline of Shasta Lake. Wooded flats, steep, rocky hillsides, secluded creeks, an occasional waterfall, and thousands of acres of mountainous country surround the lake.

A broad spectrum of facilities, ranging from primitive to luxurious, supports the many, varied recreational opportunities offered. At the upper end of the scale, there are 11 marinas and a number of resorts; most offer rental cabins, motel-type accommodations, or trailer parks with hookups and showers.

For the more independent visitor, the Forest Service manages 22 campgrounds. These vary from vehicular campgrounds, which will accommodate trailers up to 30' (no hookups), to walk-in camps; group camps which will accommodate up to 120 people; and a special feature at Shasta Lake, boat-in campgrounds. Most campgrounds have piped water. Some have flush toilets, but the majority have pit or vault-type facilities.

Shasta Lake is one of the few in California where visitors can camp along the shore. Some areas are "restricted", such as a Bald Eagle or Osprey nesting site, but even so there are several hundred miles where shoreline camping is permitted.

To assure that the privilege of camping along the shoreline is not lost, help keep the area clean. Pack it in, pack it out. Please dispose of trash at the boat ramps, and do not leave it at the floating toilets.

A campfire permit is required for building campfires or using gas or charcoal stoves (such as hibachis) along the shoreline. This permit is free and may be obtained from any Forest Service office.

Deciding where to go and what to do at Shasta Lake can be a bewildering and frustrating experience for a newcomer. The following information is intended to serve as a guide to help you get around. More detailed information and brochures are available at the Shasta Lake Information Center, and, during the summer, from Campground Hosts at many of the National Forest Campgrounds.


Shasta Lake has no developed swimming areas. However, some of the resorts do have pools. Many people swim from the shore near their campgrounds or from boats. During the summer, the water is comfortably warm; but visitors are urged to avoid areas with heavy boat traffic. Swimming is prohibited at boat ramps.


(Video) Lake Oroville Update & More!!!

The trails at Jones Valley, Packers Bay, Bailey Cove, Shasta Dam and Hirz Bay provide moderate hiking and good access to shoreline, fishing, oak woodlands and occasional secluded creeks or vistas. Since the summer days are often hot and dry, be sure to carry water. Better still, hike trails when the weather is cool. Hiking trails are generally open all year.


Motel accommodations are available in the Lakehead area and at Bridge Bay. Cabin accommodations are available at many resorts and marinas.


Hookups are available only at commercially operated campgrounds and resorts. Many Forest Service campgrounds will accommodate small trailers. Large trailers, 22-30 feet, are not advised in the Bailey Cove, Jones Valley, Lakeshore East or McCloud Bridge Campgrounds due to narrow parking spurs.


Shasta Lake offers both conventional and walk-in camps. Walk-in campgrounds provide a central parking area, but equipment must be carried a short distance to the campsite. The Jones Valley and Lakehead areas are popular with skiers, as are some of the camps on Gilman Road. Fishermen often prefer the quiet waters of the McCloud, off Gilman Road, or the back country areas of the Squaw and Pit near Jones Valley.


Four campgrounds on Shasta Lake are accessible only by boat. These camps have tables, stoves and toilet facilities (pit or vault). Situated in the more remote areas of the lake, these camps offer a unique camping experience away from headlights and traffic.


Picnic facilities are available at Fisherman's Point, near Shasta Dam; Bailey Cove; and Dekkas Rock. Each has tables, stoves, and restrooms.


(Video) Lake Shasta Water Level Update

The Forest Service maintains six public ramps, with parking areas, which provide access to most areas around the lake. Bailey Cove, Centimudi, and Jones Valley Ramps are often congested on summer weekends. Packers Bay, Antlers and Hirz Bay are recommended alternatives during periods of heavy use. Low water ramps are located at Jones Valley and Centimudi. Additional launching facilities are available at the marinas.


Popular everywhere on the lake, the Sacramento Arm and Jones Valley areas are particularly favored. The water is generally calm and ideally suited to this sport. Skiing can be hazardous in the Pit Arm where snags and floating debris have not been removed. Waterskiing is prohibited in some of the smaller coves and bays; these areas are posted by buoys.


Everyone has a favorite "hole". The Jones Valley area provides the best access to the Pit and Squaw Arms - considered by many to provide the best overall fishing. Other popular spots are located where the major rivers and streams empty into the lake, such as McCloud Bridge, on the McCloud, and Riverview (Lakehead) on the Sacramento Arm.


Shasta Lake is one of the dominant features in Northern California. Visitors can see the lake from Antlers Bridge, O'Brien Rest Area, and the Pit River Bridge on Interstate 5. The three Shastas - Shasta Dam, Shasta Lake, and Mt. Shasta - can be seen from the Shasta Dam Vista Point.

Operated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, Shasta Dam provides a variety of services including irrigation, power, and flood control.

Shasta Caverns began forming over 250 million years ago in the massive limestone of the Grey Rocks visible from Interstate 5. The caverns, located off the Shasta Caverns/O'Brien exit, are privately owned and tours are offered year-round.

Explore the natural and human history of Shasta Lake by taking a self-guided nature trail. The Hirz Bay Nature Trail is located in the Hirz Bay Campground, and the Samwel Cave Trail is located one mile south of the McCloud Bridge Campground.


Interesting historical sites can be found throughout the area. For instance, a trail blazed up the Sacramento River by Michael LaFramboise in 1834 later became the Oregon Trail. It was used extensively by traders, trappers, and gold seekers before being improved to a stage road. In 1872, the Central Pacific Railroad followed the same route as far north as Dunsmuir.



What is Shasta Lake famous for? ›

Shasta Lake is known for its excellent water skiing because the water is spacious and calm with the gorgeous surrounding scenery. Shasta Lake was formed in 1948 by the damming of the Sacramento, Pit, and McCloud Rivers along with several small tributaries.

What percentage full is Shasta Lake? ›

Currently, Shasta Lake is just 37% full, but the lake should be at 65% to 70% filled this time of year.

How deep is Shasta Lake currently? ›


The current lake level is 147′ feet down. This is 40 feet higher than last year at this time. In 2022, the DAM has been only letting out 25% of the normal flow.

When was the last time Shasta Lake was full? ›

The lake was last completely full in 2019. The all-time low point for Lake Shasta was in 1977 when the lake was 230-feet below its maximum level.

What's the biggest fish in Shasta Lake? ›

The legend of giant sturgeon in Shasta Lake lives on! Sturgeon can grow up to 1,500 pounds and live 100 years. Most sturgeon types are anadromous, which means they spend half their life in saltwater and then head upriver (freshwater) to spawn.

Is there gold in Shasta Lake? ›

After all, there were thousands of mines all throughout Siskiyou, Trinity, and Shasta County. As you head north on 1-5 past Shasta Lake you will get back into some rich gold country.

What is the deepest part of Shasta Lake? ›

The maximum depth is 517 feet (158 m). The lake has four major arms, each created by an approaching river: the Sacramento River, the McCloud River, Squaw Creek, and the Pit River.

What is at the bottom of Shasta Lake? ›

The town of Kennett was "sunk" when the dam was put in to create Lake Shasta. The sunken city now lives at the bottom of lake, around 400 ft deep, depending on water levels.

What lives in Lake Shasta? ›

Species Present: Rainbow and Brown Trout, Chinook Salmon (land locked), Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass, Channel and White Catfish, Crappie, Bluegill, White Sturgeon and Brown Bullhead.

How old is Lake Shasta? ›

Shasta Lake is a man-made reservoir in Northern California. With the construction of Shasta Dam across the Sacramento River during the 1930s and 1940s, Shasta Lake was created. During the 1800s, the area around Shasta Lake was a popular spot for farming.

Is Shasta man-made? ›

Shasta Reservoir is California's largest man-made lake with a gross pool storage capacity of 4,552,000 acre-feet. Shasta Dam and Reservoir are located on the upper Sacramento River in northern California about 9 miles northwest of the City of Redding.

How warm is Lake Shasta water? ›

Shasta Lake's current water temperature is 59°F Todays forecast is, Overcast throughout the day. With a high around 61°F and the low around 41°F.

What is the oldest lake in California? ›

In Lake County, California, just north of Sonoma and Napa counties, is Clear Lake with a ripe, young age of 480,000—yes, nearly half a million years old—the oldest lake on the continent.

Will Lake Shasta fill up? ›

Bader is optimistic Lake Shasta will fill to an average water level only if the area receives normal rainfall of 60 to 65 inches to just barely above normal, like what happened after the 1977 drought.

What would happen if the Shasta Dam broke? ›

The letter says the Office of Water Safety at Sacramento State University estimates that if water overtops the dam, the structure "would be destroyed for its entire height and nearly its entire width in a period of 6 minutes."

What is the rarest fish in California? ›

The Bathophilus flemingi, also known as the highfin dragonfish, was captured on video by a team of researchers in Monterey Bay, California. Named after the mythical creature, the torpedo-shaped fish is a predator that roams the depths of the ocean.

Are there grizzly bears in Shasta? ›

Grizzly bears once roamed the Shasta-Trinity area, but extensive hunting during the Gold Rush and the encroachment of civilization drove them to extinction. The last grizzly in California was killed in the 1920s, leaving only the Black Bear to roam the mountains.

Can you eat fish from Shasta Lake? ›

When consuming fish from Shasta Lake, women ages 18-45 and children ages 1-17 may safely eat three servings per week of sunfish species, or two servings per week of Rainbow Trout, or one serving per week of black bass species, carp, or Chinook (King) Salmon.

Can you metal detect at Shasta Lake? ›

Metal-detecting is permitted on National Forest Land only if it is in an area not reasonably expected to contain archaeological or historical resources.

Where is most gold in California? ›

Sierra Nevada Region. California's Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is by far the top gold region in the state. With well over 10,000 gold mines and thousands of active placer claims, this region has the state's largest historical gold production totals and the most active modern placer mining districts.

Is it legal to dig for gold in California? ›

Gold Panning Regulations

Rocks or minerals gathered may not be sold or used commercially for the production of profit. One person may gather no more than 15 pounds of mineral material per day. Historic and prehistoric or archeological specimens may not be gathered.

Which arm of Shasta Lake is best? ›

The Pit River Arm is considered by many fishermen to be the best bass fishing on the Lake. Fishing for bass in and among the trees is your best bet. Every spring the Plankton run in the Pit Arm, this is the only arm of the lake that you can find them.

Are there bears in Lake Shasta? ›

Bears are Also a Reality and Live Around the Lake

Like mountain lions, we sometimes spot California black bears around Shasta Lake. They catch fish and love swimming in the lake, too. Bears are shy creatures and prefer to stay away from humans. It is advisable to practice caution if you come across a bear.

Is it safe to swim in Lake Shasta? ›

Lake Shasta Water Sports

Swimming: There are no developed swimming areas at Lake Shasta, but you can swim from the shore or your boat. Water skiing: Water skiing is popular everywhere on the lake, especially on the Sacramento Arm and in the Jones Valley area. Avoid the Pit River where submerged debris creates hazards.

When was Lake Shasta built? ›

Shasta Dam is located about nine miles northwest of Redding, California, on the Sacramento River. Built during the seven-year period between 1938 and 1945, the dam is a 602-foot-high concrete gravity dam, which provides flood control, power, and water supply benefits.

How cold is the water in Lake Shasta? ›

Shasta Lake - Weather & Temperatures

What kind of fish can you catch in Shasta Lake? ›

Bass, Catfish and Crappie:

Spotted Bass are the most common, but Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass can also be caught. Plastic worms, spinner baits, swim baits and live bait seem to work best, depending on the time of year. Catfishing is best during late spring thru summer.

What did the Shasta live in? ›

Shastan, also called Sastise, North American Indian peoples that spoke related languages of Hokan stock and lived in the highlands of what is now interior northern California, in the basins of the Upper Klamath, the Scott, and the Shasta rivers.

Is Shasta Lake Natural? ›

Lake Shasta is a man-made lake, created in 1948 by the Shasta Dam. The dam was envisioned as early as 1919 and was built in the years between 1935 to 1945, its main purposes being for flood control, water storage for the Central Valley's agricultural operations, and hydroelectric generation.

Are there mountain lions in Shasta? ›

Shasta area, but acknowledged that Siskiyou County is mountain lion habitat and sightings are not uncommon, even in more urban areas.

How large is Lake Shasta? ›

How was Shasta Lake created? ›

Shasta Lake is California's largest manufactured lake or reservoir. Located in northern California, Shasta Lake was created along with the construction of the Shasta Dam, which was built across the Sacramento River in the 1930s and 1940s in what was an innovative and effective solution to the citizen's problems.

How long is Shasta Lake? ›

What does Shasta stand for? ›

Shasta is name originating in the Sahara. Its meaning is Precious Water. Shasta is also a generic Sanskrit term meaning "a teacher". The Shasta are a Native American Tribe of Northern California, they live in the region of Mount Shasta, which is the second highest peak in the Cascade Mountain range.

Why is it called Shasta? ›

Peter Skene Ogden, a chief trader with the Hudson's Bay Company, is given credit for naming Mount Shasta on February 14, 1827, after the Native Americans who lived in the area.

What is Shasta made of? ›

Ingredients. Shasta Beverages uses high-fructose corn syrup as the sugar source in their drinks. Shasta diet soft drinks use sucralose and acesulfame potassium as non-nutritive sweeteners. Some of their sugar-based drinks, including their cola, use a combination of high-fructose corn syrup and sucralose.

What is the warmest water in the world? ›

What is the warmest body of water on Earth? The hottest ocean area is in the Persian Gulf, where water temperatures at the surface exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Another hot area exists in the Red Sea, where a temperature of 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit has been recorded at a depth of about 6,500 feet.

Can you go in 60 degree water? ›

When water temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees it becomes progressively more difficult to control your breathing. It becomes very dangerous in water temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees. You lose the ability to control breathing in this temperature range, according to the National Center for Cold Water Safety.

Is 22 degrees warm for water? ›

Water Temperature of the Sea Below 22°C (72°F)

For swimming this is considered fairly warm and should be enjoyed by most, though some people may still find it a little too cool for their liking.

What is the cleanest lake in California? ›

Located just a few miles from Highway 395 in Mono County is one of the clearest lakes you've ever seen—Convict Lake. Don't let the name of this idyllic lake unsettle you. Boasting crystal clear waters and jaw-dropping scenery, this place is as close to heaven on earth as you can get.

What is the first lake on Earth? ›

Detailed Description. Lake Baikal, the world's oldest and deepest freshwater lake, curves for nearly 400 miles through south-eastern Siberia, north of the Mongolian border.

What are the 3 largest lakes in California? ›

Which Are The Largest Lakes In California?
RankName of LakeSurface area (acres)
1Salton Sea240,000
2Lake Tahoe122,000
3Goose Lake94,000
4Mono Lake55,179
16 more rows
1 Aug 2017

Who owns the water in Shasta Lake? ›

Shasta Dam
Owner(s)U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Dam and spillways
Type of damConcrete gravity
ImpoundsSacramento River
30 more rows

Does Shasta Dam generate electricity? ›

Shasta Powerplant is located at the base of the dam and helps managers maximize the benefit of water stored in Shasta Reservoir. Water released to meet downstream commitments pass through the generators causing them to spin, generating clean hydroelectric power for distribution to the western U.S. power grid.

What lake in California is drying up? ›

The drought bearing down on Mono Lake and the rest of California picks up on a two-decade run of extreme warming and drying. It's a product of the changing climate that has begun to profoundly reshape the landscape of the West and how people live within it.

What is the largest dam ever to fail? ›

In 1975 the failure of the Banqiao Reservoir Dam and other dams in Henan Province, China caused more casualties than any other dam failure in history. The disaster killed an estimated 171,000 people and 11 million people lost their homes.

What dam almost failed in California? ›

Background. Oroville Dam, an important part of the California State Water Project, is an earthen embankment dam on the Feather River, east of the city of Oroville in Northern California.

Why is Mount Shasta so special? ›

Native Americans believe in the mountain's sanctity. They think of it as being the center of the universe. Legend has it that some believe it to be one of the most sacred sites and is the home of the Creator. The mountain flanks the territories of various American Indian tribes.

What is Shasta Lake water used for? ›

Water is used for irrigation, municipal and industrial needs, salinity control for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and to meet environmental needs. Water released to the river is sent through the Shasta Powerplant, which produces hydroelectric power for the 15-state western power grid.

Why is Mount Shasta famous? ›

At an elevation of 14,179 feet (4,321.8 meters), it is the second-highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth-highest in the state. Mount Shasta has an estimated volume of 85 cubic miles (350 cubic kilometers), which makes it the most voluminous stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.

What is an interesting fact about Mount Shasta? ›

There are seven named glaciers on the mountain. The Whitney, Bolam, Hotlum, Wintun, Watkins, Konwakiton, and Mud Creek glaciers keep Mt. Shasta's slopes white year-round. Unfortunately, during summer 2021's record heat waves, some of these glaciers split into smaller pieces, and all of them experienced rapid melting.

How old is Mount Shasta? ›

The Mount Shasta magmatic system has evolved more or less continuously for at least 590,000 years, but the ancestral cone was virtually destroyed by an enormous volcanic sector collapse and landslide around 300,000 years ago. Only a small remnant of this older edifice remains on the west side of the stratovolcano.

What does Shasta mean? ›

Shasta is a generic term that means "Teacher, Guide, Lord, Ruler" in Sanskrit. In South India, a number of deities are associated with Shasta. The Tamil song Shasta Varavu states that there are eight important incarnations and forms of Shasta.

Can you drink Shasta water? ›

Some individuals prefer to use the water from the Headwaters over their own tap or well water. Although the water has not been treated, it is considered safe to drink.

What animals live in Shasta Lake? ›

Species Present: Rainbow and Brown Trout, Chinook Salmon (land locked), Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass, Channel and White Catfish, Crappie, Bluegill, White Sturgeon and Brown Bullhead.

Is Shasta a Russian word? ›

The word 'Shasta' is derived from the Russian language.

How did Shasta get its name? ›

Peter Skene Ogden, a chief trader with the Hudson's Bay Company, is given credit for naming Mount Shasta on February 14, 1827, after the Native Americans who lived in the area.

Does Mount Shasta have lava? ›

Mt. Shasta is an active volcano that has erupted at least once per 800 years for the past 10,000 years, with an increased eruption frequency of about once per 250 years over the past 750 years. The region around Mt. Shasta is susceptible to lava and pyroclastic flows, lahars (mudflows), avalanches, and earthquakes.

How much damage did Mount Shasta do? ›

April 19, 2032 Mount Shasta Eruption
VEI 7 super-colossal eruption (USGS)
Eruption typeSuper-Colossal
LocationNorthern California, South Orgeon
Damages<$450 billion (2016 USD)
6 more rows

Why was Shasta a ghost town? ›

Situated about six miles (10 km) west of Redding, California along Highway 299, Shasta was once home to some 3,500 residents and a thriving commercial district. However, in the mid-1880s, the newly-constructed Central Pacific Railroad bypassed Shasta, in favor of Redding and the town declined into “ghost town” status.


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