Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

Located about 30 minutes northeast of Santa Barbara, Lake Cachuma’s County Campground offers something for everyone.

Located on the South rim of the lake, this monstrous campground is home to more than 400 campsites. In addition to the tenting, partial hook-up and full hook-up sites, you can also rent 4-5 person “yurts” ($60 - $70/night) and cabins ($145-$165/night) on-site.

For such a big campground, we found that it was pretty well maintained. The sites were all decent sized, restrooms were evenly spread around the grounds and there is even a well-kept, coin-operated, shower building.

On-site there is also; a store, a gas station, boat dock and launch, a café, tackle shop and boat rentals, a swimming pool (open during the summer months for a small fee) and several playgrounds.

Being such a large campground, bringing bikes would be a great idea. We rode around for a few hours and had a blast. The campground does an OK job separating the RVs from the traditional tenters. There are areas with full hook-ups, areas with partial hook-ups and some with no hook ups. You will find far less RVs, generators, outdoor TVs and such if you stick to the no hook-up areas. I would love to see the park not allow any RVs in the no hook-up areas so that us tenters can have an area of our own.

It was annoying, to the point of being comical, to bike around and see people with generators running just so that they could watch TV or play video games in their immense, mobile condos. We saw; a truck loaded with artificial grass to put down in front of his RV, pink Flamingos and garden gnomes carefully positioned around one lucky RVer’s site we even saw another group of massive RVs positioned in a U shape offering their owners their own little brightly lit “compound.”

We found a cool spot under a few trees and up against a bank, running down to the water. The site that we were in (#295) was large and flat. We could have easily set up 6 – 8 tents and still had room to play around. The fire pits were a bit awkward as they were basically thick, cement blocks with one side missing. Once we got the fire started and figured out the best way to keep logs from falling out of the missing side (using the cooking grate,) we were able to get quite a nice fire going.

On our rides around the campground talking with other campers, we were able to identify a few other cool sites that we would suggest trying to get after /during your check-in. These sites include; 285, 288, 290, 299, 313, 315, 397. The sites 441 to 483 (towards the end of the point) tend to get very windy. The loop of sites in the 500 range was closed down and is only open during the summer months so we did not have a chance to check them out.

The group sites were actually very impressive with large (5 feet across) fire pits, clusters of picnic tables, huge, crank-down cooking pits, and many had horseshoe areas. If you are interested in one of those sites, make sure that you have a TON of people going with you as they range from $160/night to $600/night.

This campground is a first come first serve operation. I would suggest getting there a day early if you think it is going to be busy.

Yahoo! Map of Campground area Click HereLake Cachuma offers plenty of fishing, but no swimming or skiing in the lake, boating but not swimming or skiing? You must have proof of current rabies vaccination for your dogs and the helmet laws are enforced for children under 18… even for scooters.

About the campground:
# of sites – 400+
Tenting vs. RV – 60% no hook-ups
Bathrooms – 6 plus scattered port-a-potties
Showers – 1 large shower house and two restroom buildings also have showers
Water – shared water spigots
Electric – at about 405 of the designated sites
Convenience Store – Yes
BOA Recommended sites (for tenters) - 285, 288, 290, 299, 313, 315, 397

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