Lake Berryessa – Putah Canyon

img_9208I am normally the one in charge of making reservations. Thing is, I can only do so after work hours, past the time most private or call-in campgrounds are taking calls. So I do mostly online reservations; state parks, county parks, or private places with online reservation systems. As a result, places like this just haven’t happened before now. And Richard gets super stressed when he makes the reservations, though I have no idea why. Anyway, he got ahold of “Brandon” at Putah Canyon, after many missed phone calls, and reserved one of their three premium sites. I can’t imagine how he could have done better. And now I really want to check out the other places around Lake Berryessa. There are at least three other campgrounds to try. They are all either private places, or Bureau of Land Management campgrounds.

img_9202We followed Acura navigation to get there, taking Highway 121 out of Napa and up over the hills. It was pretty, but I wouldn’t want to do that in the dark. Google suggested going up Wooden Valley Road and that’s what we did to get home. That drive is also beautiful and would be far easier in the dark. It’s narrow with lots of turns, but not as twisty as the other way. Plus there are no drop offs and plenty of turnouts. As it was, we pulled in at dusk and had no trouble backing in to the huge site. As Richard was getting dinner ready, I  suddenly leaped to my feet and darted outside because I’d spotted the unmistakable signs of an otter swimming along, right past our site. I came back inside giggling saying, “Yeah, you did good with the reservation, Sweetie.”

img_9214There are so many sites in this campground that overlook the lake. Pretty much anything will give you a water view. This one was especially impressive because it’s at the end of a long peninsula, so you get water views all around. On Friday, we had the place practically to ourselves. Some partiers moved in Saturday, but they were pretty well behaved. We both suspect that the place must get crazy in the summer.

img_3374Richard did a beautiful ride on Saturday, even being willing to brave a bit of rain. He stopped in at Turtle Rock Bar & Cafe, which for some reason is covered with dollar bills. That will be a place to try on some future trip. Meanwhile (following report writing duties), I chilled back at the lake. I have the ability to stare at a water feature the entire day and not get bored. So that’s what I did. When he returned, we played our fun with hearing impairment game.

Richard: Did you see any marauders?

Me: What?? Marauders?? What is this? Some kind of pirate lake??

Richard: *laughs hysterically*

Me: Oh. No. No more otters.

img_9210There were maybe five other campsites being used this weekend. There was evidence though that the place is set up to handle crowds. There were two permanent vault toilet structures that we saw, but many many locked or tipped over porta potties throughout the campground. The recycling dumpsters were upside down too, so I guess they don’t deal with recycling in the off season. As it was, we had a bit of a walk if we wanted to use the vault toilets. There are definitely no hookups, but there were a few water spigots and a good dump on site. There is a boat launch with tons of parking, all empty now, and what looked like an overflow pull through parking area, probably used for boat trailers.

img_9227I think if I had wanted to launch my kayak, it would have been difficult from our site. Not impossible, but I’d have to get the boat down some steps to get to the water. There was a nice little flat, paved landing down by the water, which is what makes the site “premium.” One could always use the boat launch area too. I didn’t see any particular sites that would have had easy launching access. There are also several day use areas along the lake with launches and beaches that would be good for kayaks. Anyway, it was too cold for my blood to get out there this weekend.

img_9239We will definitely return to this lake! Heading home via Wooden Valley Road/Suisun Valley Road, we enjoyed a springtime bloom fest of yellow mustard, flowering trees, and rolling hillsides awash with various shades of green. We passed through the tiny unincorporated cluster of buildings known as Mankas Corner. Some time, we will need to stop and check out the little shops and historic sites.

Always fun to discover there is more to be discovered!

Total miles (going): 73.2, 16.4 mpg, 2 hours 25 min. (returning): 70.9, 16.8 mpg, 1 hour 58 min. Site 87 premium. No hookups. Excellent solar and 4 bars fast LTE for both. Water spigots around, but we were warned there was no potable water, so came prepared. Vault toilets few and far between. Porta potties scattered about, but locked for off season. Good dump.

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