A bridge goes over the lake which has a marina on the left
Lake Sonoma Recreation Area

Boating to Your Campsite at Lake Sonoma

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To really get away from it all, there's nothing like piling into a speedboat, canoe, or kayak with your camping gear and taking off for a boat-in campsite.

You can do just that at Geyserville's Lake Sonoma Recreation Area. Surrounded by steep hills and vineyards, the lake offers 106 boat-in camping sites. Although they're considered to be 'primitive' sites, each has its own fire ring, picnic table, and lantern holder.

The hills and trees are reflected in the calm, blue water in the lake
Lake Sonoma Recreation Area

Even restroom 'facilities' are available (they're chemical vaults). You can even bring the family pet, though Fido must remain on a six-foot leash at all times.

One important thing not provided, however, is water. Plan on bringing plenty of drinking water with you, or else a dependable filter device for purifying lake water.

The price of these wonderful campsites? A mere $20 per night (reservations required).

An aerial view of the bridge going across the lake at sunset
Lake Sonoma Recreation Area

The campsites are scattered along both the lake's arms (one extends for nine miles, while the other is about half that length), allowing you to get really far away or to stay close to lake activities. Madrone Point in the Warm Springs Arm, for example, is within the most popular of the lake's water skiing areas. In the Dry Creek Arm, Skunk Creek has very secluded campsites and offers excellent fishing.

You can launch your boat at the Yorty Creek Recreation Area off Hot Springs Road (car-top only, no trailers) or near the dam at the Public Boat Ramp, where trailers are allowed.

Boats docked in the marina
Lake Sonoma Marina

Don't have a boat? You can rent a variety of watercraft, from double-decker patio boats to fishing boats to kayaks, at Lake Sonoma Marina. The least expensive, a kayak, costs $80 per 4-hour period. There are also plenty of hike-in and drive-in campsites in different locations on the property.

Lake Sonoma, which was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1983 during the construction of Warm Springs Dam, provides for flood control and irrigation. It also offers extensive opportunities for recreation, including hiking, swimming, horseback riding, archery, fishing, hunting, boating, and camping.

Two people riding horses pose in front of the lake below
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma Horseback Riding

The Ranch at Lake Sonoma offers guided scenic horseback rides with stunning views overlooking the Dry Creek Valley, Lake Sonoma, and the rugged Rockpile wine region. The Ranch offers a wilderness experience on horseback, wandering through Sonoma County's largest 17,000-acre park. A variety of trail rides are available, from those suitable for timid or first-time riders to more challenging treks for thrill seekers.

Located at the park entrance, the Lake Sonoma Visitors Center features exhibits telling the story of Warm Springs Dam, and explaining the natural and early history of Dry Creek Valley. The center also offers a variety of audio-visual and ranger-led programs. 

Directly behind the visitor center, the Congressman Don Clausen Fish Hatchery offers displays showing the life cycle of coho salmon, steelhead, and chinook, and visitors can observe the operation of the hatchery, which works to replace and enhance salmon and steelhead spawning grounds. 

Details: Lake Sonoma Recreation Area, 3333 Skaggs Springs Road, Geyserville 95441, 707-431-4590.

Campsites can be reserved by calling the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS) at 877-444-6777 or online at www.recreation.gov.

Learn more about primitive boat-in and hike-in campsites at Lake Sonoma. You can download PDFs with a chart linking to descriptions of individual campsites and one with diagrams and descriptions of the various campsites.

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.