Destination California: Exploring Lake Berryessa

Destination California

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — A reservoir originally meant to supply water to Solano County has now become a recreation destination.

In this week’s Destination California, FOX40 took a trip out to Lake Berryessa to find out why families are flocking there.

“It’s 165 miles of shoreline, 12 miles from the southernmost point to the northernmost point,” said Amber Garcia, the assistant manager at Pleasure Cove Marina.

The huge body of water sits between the hills of Napa County, making it the perfect halfway point between the Bay Area and Sacramento.

“We’re seeing families just from all over this area that are just trying to find something to do. With everything closed, this is really one of the only safe activities for a family to do,” Garcia explained.

And there’s no shortage of those activities at Lake Berryessa, whether camping, renting a cabin or taking a walk through nature, the shoreline offers plenty of adventure.

But for most, the real draw is the water.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful blue water and the perfect temperature, you can actually water ski until October,” Garcia said.

Another bonus is the region gets enough rain that the water level stays consistent throughout the year.

But the people who originally created the reservoir, actually had no idea so many people would end up enjoying it.

“What wasn’t originally authorized was recreation, but if you build a dam, people are going to go to the water,” said Drew Lessard of the Bureau of Reclamation.

The Monticello Dam was built in the late 1950s, forming the vast lake in the middle of Putah Creek.

“Due to the geology of that area, which was called Devil’s Gate, there wasn’t a lot of room for a traditional spillway,” Lessard explained.

The result was a circular spillway upstream from the dam called the Glory Hole which has become an attraction all on its own.

But regardless of what brings people to the reservoir, they are bound to leave Lake Berryessa with a greater appreciation for the beauty this region has to offer.

“Just getting yourself out of your regular routine and just being able to recharge by a lake in some trees in the big open sky … that’s the greatest way to recharge,” Garcia said.

People who work at Lake Berryessa say they’ve seen an uptick in visitors and rentals during this pandemic as more people turn to the outdoors.

The staff at Pleasure Cove Marina said they are taking strict measures to sanitize all of their rentals daily to offer a safe environment for families to enjoy time together.

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