What are the top things to do at Clear Lake Campground in spring?
Spring is the perfect time to visit Clear Lake Campground. Days are longer, wildflowers are blooming, fish are biting, and birders will spot a variety of birds around Lake County. It's a good time to rent a kayak, go wine tasting, or just relax at camp. Here are top 5 things to do near Clear Lake Campground on your spring visit to Lake County:
Attention Birders: Clear Lake Campground is calling you! More than 300 bird species have been spotted in Lake County, California, and many of them are common in all seasons.
What birds might I see at Clear Lake Campground?
Listed below are the birds you are most likely to see when you come to Clear Lake Campground. See our recommended top birding hot spots for places to go around Clear Lake while you're at Camp.
* An ideal way to see birds along Cache Creek is by canoe or kayak: Rent a kayak or canoe at Camp, available to campground guests and the public.
Common Water Birds on Clear Lake and Cache Creek:
Commonly seen in all seasons: Mallards, Canada Geese, American Coot, American White Pelican and Grebes including Pied-billed, Eared, Western, and Clark's Grebes.
Common in spring, fall, and winter: Buffleheads, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye and Ducks including Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Ring-necked, Lesser Scaup, and Ruddy Ducks.
Birds to see in or near the water:
Commonly seen in all seasons: Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, and California Gull.
Common in spring, fall, and winter: Great Egret and Herring Gull
Birds to see on the ground:
frequently spotted in all seasons: California Quail and Wild Turkey
Flying birds - look in trees, bushes, or in the air:
Look for these in all seasons: Anna's Hummingbird, American Crow, American Robin, Black Phoebe, Brewer's Blackbird, Bushtit, California Scrub Jay, Common Raven, Dark-eyed Junco, Dildeer, European Starling, Eurasian-collared Dove, House Finch, House Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, Marsh Wren, Red-winged Blackbird, Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vultures, Western Bluebird, Western Meadowlark, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Seen in spring, summer, and fall: Barn Swallow, Osprey, Tree Swallow, Violet-Green Swallow
Seen in spring, fall, and winter: American Kerstel Falcon, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden Crowned and White-crowned Sparrows.
Common in Spring and summer: Cliff Swallow, Western Wood Pewee, Yellow-headed Blackbird
Fairly Common Birds you may see in all seasons:
While not as common as the birds in the above lists, there's still a good chance you may see these in any season:
American Goldfinch, Bell's and Lark Sparrows, Belted Kingfisher, Bewick's Wren, California and Spotted Towhees, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Downy and Nuttall's Woodpeckers, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Great Horned Owl, Mourning Dove, Northern Mockingbird, Oak Titmouse, Purple Finch, Red-shouldered Hawk, Rock Pigeon, Steller's Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Wrentit.
Fall is a nice time to visit Clear Lake, after the summer heat and crowds have gone. Days are often beautiful and sunny although it starts getting chilly at night. Clear Lake Campground makes a great base for RV campers to enjoy activities around the lake during fall or just have a relaxing getaway.
In fall 2021, the water level in Cache Creek is low so boating from Camp is not possible. However we've been seeing a lot more wildlife making its way to the creek this summer so you'll probably see more wildlife than usual without leaving Camp!
What is there to do in fall near Clear Lake Campground?
Fall is a good time to turn your visit into a road trip. No matter which direction you're coming from, we have suggestions for things to see on your way to Clear Lake Campground.
Anderson Marsh Boating Itinerary from Clear Lake Campground by kayak, canoe, or small motor boat:
One of the top things to do at Clear Lake Campground is to explore Cache Creek and Anderson Marsh in a kayak, canoe, or boat. You can bring your own and dock right from Camp or rent a kayak, canoe, or small motor boat from us. This itinerary takes you from Camp along the shore of Anderson Marsh, Slater Island, and Garner Island.
Starting from Camp, go toward the right, with Anderson Marsh on your left. You'll soon come to a few peaceful inlets off to the left that are fun to explore by kayak or canoe when the water is high enough. Continuing along, you'll pass houses on your right and Anderson Marsh on the left shore. Trees along the shore provide nesting spots for heron and egret, both commonly seen in this area. Watch for otters, ducks, and grebes in the water and deer in the wooded area.
Continuing past the houses, Slater Island is on your left, also part of Anderson Marsh. After passing Slater Island, Garner Island will be directly in front of you. Veer slightly left rather than taking the right turn to remain on Cache Creek with Garner Island on your right. In the distance to your left look for vineyards lining the hills.
After you pass the island, the creek ends. If the water isn't too low, turn left to go into the tule marsh area. This is a great spot for birds and you may see white pelicans, grebes, coots, mallards, egrets, or heron. In spring, Grebes nest in the tules so watch for nests as you go further into the tules by kayak or canoe. It's also carp mating season so you may see them roiling around in the water or even jumping out. Be careful as you head into the tules, it's easy to get lost. Unless the water is unusually high, you'll need to turn around and come back out the same way you entered.
Instead of going into the tule area, you can turn right and circle around Garner Island, to return to Cache Creek. This is a good alternative if the water is low, especially if you're in a motor boat, and you'll get to see Clear Lake as you come around the island. When you get back to Cache Creek, retrace your route back to Camp.
This itinerary takes in part of Clear Lake Water Route 2: Tule Maze of Anderson Marsh and Clear Lake Water Route 3: Rock Riffle, and Dam. The link take you to a map and more details about the water trail.
Explore more water activities:
Boating Itinerary from Clear Lake Campground to the Dam by kayak, canoe, or small motor boat:
One of the top things to do at Clear Lake Campground is exploring Cache Creek in a kayak, canoe, or boat. You can bring your own and dock right from Camp or rent a kayak, canoe, or small motor boat from us. This itinerary takes you from Camp to Cache Creek Dam, a distance of a little over 3 miles.
Starting from Camp, turn toward the left, with Anderson Marsh on your right. You'll pass under the bridge over the highway, then you'll come to the Grigsby Riffle, a rock formation that crosses the creek near Seigler Canyon Creek. When the water is very low, the riffle sticks out and may make it difficult or impossible to cross. The riffle is used to measure the lake's water level on a scale called the Rumsey Scale. Clear Lake is considered full at 7.56 on the Rumsey Scale and the level usually varies from 1.6 to 6.75 except in very dry years where the level may go below 0.
If the water is high enough, it's possible to take a detour for a short distance along Seigler Canyon Creek if you're in a kayak or canoe. Shortly after you cross the riffle, you'll pass under the Lake Street Bridge. Houses line this part of the creek for about a mile. Geese and ducks are common in this area and sometimes you may see otters swimming along. Once you pass the houses you're in a wooded area where you might see deer, wild turkeys, or even a bear on the banks. Birds are usually plentiful in the trees and on the water. In spring, fish are sometimes seen jumping out of the water, too.
As you approach the dam, you'll see danger signs warning boats to stay away. Be sure to heed these warnings and don't get too near the dam. Built in 1914, the Cache Creek Dam is currently owned by Yolo County who takes water from Clear Lake via the dam unless the water level is too low. This is the end of boating access so you'll need to turn around and head back to Camp.
This itinerary is part of Clear Lake Water Route 3, Rock Riffle, and Dam. The link takes you to a map and more details about the water trail.
Explore more water activities:
What are the best places to see birds around Clear Lake?
Clear Lake is home to a large variety of species. Since many of them are found in or near the water, the top places to see birds are around the lake. Clear Lake Campground is right on Cache Creek and across from Anderson Marsh State Park so you'll probably see birds from Camp. One of the best ways to get a closer look at water birds is in a kayak or canoe along Cache Creek from Camp, either in your own or renting one of ours. Book a kayak, canoe, or small motor boat.
Where to See Birds:
Kelseyville, about 25 minutes from Clear Lake Campground, has a Main Street full of small town charm. It's a pleasant place to spend an hour or two browsing, eating, or drinking. If you're headed to Clearlake State Park for hiking or boating, it's a good place to buy supplies for a picnic lunch. Or buy some special foods, wine, or beer to bring back to Camp.
Please keep in mind that some businesses may temporarily close of have shorter hours. If there's a specific place you want to go, we advise calling ahead to check the current status.
Where Can I Eat, Drink, or Shop Along Main Street, Kelseyville?
Kelseyville has options for coffee, beer or wine tasting, food to go, shopping and places to eat a meal. Tip: there's a small park with picnic tables on the street behind Studebaker's where you can eat take-out meals. Businesses are listed starting from the first place you'd come to after making the turn into Kelseyville (on Main Street) from Hwy 29:
Lydell's Sports Stop and Grill, 4220 Main Street, 707-279-0123
Lydell's serves burgers, breakfast, and American foods in a casual atmosphere all day with sports TVs and an outside patio. Facebook page.
Studebaker's Coffee and Deli, 3990 Main Street, 707-279-8871
Studebaker's serves coffee drinks, pastries, and sandwiches from early morning through mid-afternoon (closed Sundays). Sit at a table outside and enjoy the atmosphere or grab something to go. Facebook page.
Smiling Dogs Ranch Tasting Room, 3955 Main Street, 707-279-5000
Smiling Dogs Ranch features their locally produced wines at their downtown venue Fridays through Sundays. Due to tasting room restrictions, please call before you go. They sometimes feature live music with local musicians on Friday evenings. Facebook page.
Kelsey Creek Brewing, 3945 Main Street, 707-279-2311
Kelsey Creek is the place for beer lovers. They serve a variety of beers, including their own brews (listed on their web site). They usually open at noon on weekends and 2PM weekdays and stay open until 8PM but current hours may be shorter. Web site.
A + H General Store, 3925 Main Street, 707-279-5166
A + H carries unique gift items, gourmet foods, and local Lake County products. It's a great place to pick up some cheese, salami, and crackers for a picnic or buy a local souvenir. To order ahead for curb side pick-up see their Web site. Open Wednesdays - Sundays, 11AM - 4PM. Facebook page.
Carmelita's Cocina, 3919 Main Street, 707-279-5061
Carmelita's has good homemade Mexican food for lunch or dinner (closed Sundays). Facebook page.
Oak Boutique, 3940 Main Street, 707-281-6010
Across the street from A + H is their sister store, Oak Boutique, with clothes for girls and women of all ages plus accessories and jewelry. Open Wednesdays - Sundays, 11Am - 4PM. See what they have on their web site or visit their Facebook page for more.
The Courtyard, 3970 Main Street
Several small shops are in the Courtyard including Two Sisters Antique and Vintage Collectibles and an art gallery. Wednesdays - Saturdays, 11AM - 4PM.
Fore Family Vineyards, 3920 Main Street, 707-245-7554
Fore Family's wine tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons by appointment. Web site.
John's Market Taqueria, 3860 Main Street, 707-279-2440
John's Market is a small store with groceries, Mexican items, and take-out Mexican foods.
Saw Shop Public House, 3825 Main Street, 707-278-0129
The Saw Shop is a favorite for creative dining options. They serve lunch and dinner with a nice patio for outside dining. It's also a great place to get dinner to bring back to Camp - they feature a daily special grab-n-skidaddle dinner (usually posted on their Facebook page).
What Historical Cemeteries Can I Visit from Clear Lake Campground?
Cemeteries are everywhere you go and they're often interesting and peaceful places to explore. They're full of history and often are home to birds and other wildlife, such as deer. Lake County cemeteries are rarely crowded so it's easy to find some solitude. Early settlers are buried in several of our cemeteries so they're a good place to discover some Lake County history.
Lower Lake Cemetery and Pioneer Cemetery
Herndon Cemetery, also known as Pioneer Cemetery was started in 1856 by Nathaniel Herndon for his family and friends. The Herndon family was part of the Copsey wagon train that arrived in Lower Lake from Missouri in 1854. Copsey family members were buried in Herndon Cemetery as well as members of the Hale and Grigsby families. George Patch, the last known traditional leader and shaman of the Koi Tribe (part of the Pomo Nation) was also buried here.
Herndon Cemetery later became a community cemetery and many early settlers were buried there. 29 of its burials were moved to the Lower Lake Cemetery in the early 1900's. These older tombstones can be found toward the back of Lower Lake Cemetery on the right side of the main road. Some of the burials still in Herndon Cemetery had only wooden markers or crosses that have since worn away and no formal records were kept so its not known how many burials still remain or the names of all the people who were buried there. 8 members of the original Herndon family are confirmed to be buried in Pioneer Cemetery, one of whom died in 1858 at 13 years of age, and 2 members of the Copsey family, including an infant girl named Alice. Although most of the tomb stones are gone, it's an interesting place to wander around.
Lower Lake Cemetery: 9040 Lake St, next to Lower Lake Elementary School
Pioneer Cemetery: 9022 Stagecoach Lane off Big Bear Road, 3 miles from Camp.
See Herndon Cemetery for a list of people known to be buried there.
Lake County Historical Society has a page about Herndon Cemetery restoration with a few photos.
In 1889, land for the cemetery was donated by William Good, a blacksmith. This new cemetery was owned by the Odd Fellows Lodge. Previous burials from the small cemetery at Fiege Ranch and Rabbit Hill were transferred there. 18 veterans of the Civil War and one from the Spanish American War are buried here.
Middletown Cemetery: 16357 Butts Canyon Road, Middletown, about 20 minutes from Camp
Middletown History Cemetery page
Kelseyville Cemetery and Pioneer Cemetery
Kelseyville Pioneer Cemetery, in use from 1861-1884, has about 100 graves of early pioneer families, although some of them are unmarked. Early settlers buried here include members of the Benson, Crowell, Gard, Kelsay, Kelsey, Nobles and Piner families. In 1884 the Odd Fellows Cemetery, now Kelseyville Cemetery, opened and some burials were relocated to it.
Kelseyville Cemetery: 3375 Bell Hill Road, Kelseyville, about 20 minutes from Camp
Kelseyville Pioneer Cemetery: 4830 Renfro Drive, Kelseyville (temporarily closed in summer, 2020)
List of names buried in Pioneer Cemetery
Named for Henry Hare Hartley, the cemetery in Lakeport opened around 1860 as the Masonic Cemetery. Henry Hare Hartley was an attorney who would have become the Grand Master of Masonic Lodges in California but he died of a heart attack at age 41 in 1868. He's buried in Sacramento but the cemetery was renamed in his memory.
Hartley Cemetery: 2552 Hill Road E, Lakeport, about half an hour from Camp
Upper Lake Cemetery
Although Upper Lake Cemetery was established in 1855, the oldest tombstone is dated 1849. Some older, unmarked burials may also be here. It's said that the Pomo Indians used to cremate their dead in this area prior to the arrival of white settlers. The oldest part of the cemetery is on the east side of Clover Valley Road.
Upper Lake Cemetery, 780 Clover Valley Road, Upper Lake, about 40 minutes from camp
Image: A Copsey family tombstone in Lower Lake Cemetery, one of the burials moved from Pioneer Cemetery.
Where Can We Swim in Clear Lake?
Although Clear Lake Campground is on the shore of Cache Creek, the creek itself by Camp is not a good place for swimming due to boat traffic. You can sunbathe, fish from shore, or enjoy the creek from a kayak or boat though. But if you want to take a dip in the lake there are several places around Clear Lake with beaches from where you can swim. We recommend these 5 Lake County spots for beaches and swimming:
Clear Lake State Park:
Clear Lake State Park, on the lake shore 20 miles from Camp, has a great beach with lake access for swimming. On the beach there are picnic tables, ramadas for shade, and restrooms. In the park you'll also find other picnic areas, boat launches, fishing areas, and good hiking trails. You may see a variety of birds and water fowl from the beach. Glass bottles and dogs are not allowed on the beach although dogs are allowed on leash in other parts of the park. Clear Lake State Park is a great place for families to spend the day. There's a fee for day use.
Address: 5300 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville
Web site: Clear Lake State Park
Highlands Springs Recreation Area:
Highlands Springs, about half an hour from Camp, is one of the most popular places for families to enjoy a day at a beach. Although not on the lake, the large beach area and calm reservoir make this a favorite place for swimming in summer. Boat access is restricted to non-motorized boats only. Visitors can use the picnic areas with BBQs, restrooms, a large grassy area, horseshoe pits, fishing spots, and hiking and biking trails too. Be sure to bring water as there is no potable water available.
Address: 3600 E. Highland Springs Rd., Lakeport, off Hwy 29 (left turn coming from camp)
More information: Highland Springs
Lakeside County Park:
In Kelseyville, 25 minutes from Camp, Lakeside County Park has a small area with lake access for swimming. It's also a good place for bird watching. There are picnic areas, a boat launch, spots for fishing, horseshoe pits, and a playground. Dogs are allowed in the dog park area only.
Address: 1985 Park Dr, Kelseyville
County Parks Along Highway 20:
Going north from Clear Lake Campground, then west on Highway 20 toward Ukiah, some county parks along the lake's north shore have places to swim in the lake. You'll have some good views of the lake along your drive, too.
Note: Austin Beach in Clearlake is only a few miles from Camp, however we don't recommend swimming there because Cyanobacteria shows up often in testing. If you want to go, please check with camp staff first for the latest reports.
More Activities Near Clear Lake Campground:
Lake County has been inhabited for thousands of years. Pomo Indians settled along Cache Creek, including where Clear Lake Campground and Anderson Marsh are now, and used obsidian from Mount Konocti volcano to make tools and to trade. Pioneers started settling in the mid-1800's and some of the old buildings can still be seen. Lake County has 4 small history museums that are essential stops for anyone interested in local history (no admission charge but donations appreciated). Take a look at 6 historical places in Lake County:
Anderson Marsh State Historic Park
Right across the creek from Clear Lake Campground, the entrance to Anderson Marsh is just a 2 minute drive. At the park you'll find a parking area (fee) where information about the ranch house and hiking trails are posted, a large picnic area, and the 19th century ranch house (closed except for special events). barn, and outbuildings, including 2 non-usable outhouses. An easy nature trail leading to the creek has signs talking about the area's early history. In the park are archeological sites that are at least 10,000 years old from when it was inhabited by the Southeastern Pomo.
Address: 8400 Hwy 53, Lower Lake
See Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association for more information
Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum:
A couple miles farther south, in the small town of Lower Lake, is the old schoolhouse, originally built in 1877, that served as a 2-room schoolhouse until 1935. The schoolhouse has been restored and has a museum on the lower floor with historic displays including Native American artifacts, a Victorian parlor with player piano, and a restored schoolroom. The upper floor is used for special art exhibits and as a theater.
Address: 16435 Main Street, Lower Lake, 5 minutes from Camp
Usually open: Thurs-Sat, 11-4
Information: Schoolhouse Museum
Ely Stage Stop and Country Museum:
Dating from 1864 or 1865, over the years the building was used as a stage coach stop, public house, hotel, post office, school for wayward boys, general store, and a gas station. It was moved from its original location by the Lake County Historic Association and now houses a museum and historical preservation center. Historic farm equipment and other objects are on the grounds around the museum and in the barn below it. On the first Sunday of the month, 12-2, there's an old fashioned fiddlers' jam, currently held outdoors (bring your own chairs).
Address: 9921 Soda Bay Rd, Kelseyville, 20 minutes from Camp (between Lower Lake and Kelseyville)
Usually open: Sat-Sun, 11-3
Web site: Ely Stage Stop
Historic Courthouse Museum:
The former Lake County Courthouse, built in 1870 and used through 1968, now houses a museum of Native American and local history, including one of the biggest collections of Eastern Pomo basketry. Other exhibits include geological history, Native American and Pioneer artifacts, and a restored historic courtroom. The museum itself was started in 1932 in a smaller building but moved into the old Courthouse building after a new building was built for the courthouse.
Address: 255 North Main Street, Lakeport, 30 minutes from Camp
Usually open: Wed-Sat, 11-4 and Sun 12-4
Information: Courthouse Museum
C. Gibson Museum
Housed in a mission-style building that was built as a library in 1930, the small museum has historical artifacts and displays related to natural history of southern Lake County including geology, hot springs and resorts, and a Lillie Langtry exhibit.
Address: 21267 Calistoga Rd (Hwy 29), Middletown, 20 minutes from Camp
Usually open: Thurs-Sat, 11-4
Web site: Gibson Museum
Tallman Hotel and Upper Lake:
Clear Lake and mineral springs in the hills started drawing tourists to the area as early as 1874. The Tallman Hotel in downtown Upper Lake was one of the first hotels. Originally built in 1874, the original Tallman House Hotel was destroyed in a fire in 1895 but rebuilt in the style you see today. Next to the hotel, the Blue Wing Saloon originally dated from the 1880's but was torn down during Prohibition. It has been rebuilt to resemble an 1870's bar and now you can enjoy a good lunch or dinner on the outside porch or garden, sometimes with live music - reservations recommended, (707) 275-2233. A stroll along Upper Lake's Main Street is like taking a step back in time, too.
Address: 9520 Main Street, Upper Lake, 35-40 minutes from Camp
Web Site: Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon
Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum, photo by James Martin
More Things to Do from Clear Lake Campground:
Martha Bakerjian is a part-time employee at Clear Lake Campground and writes a web site about Italy: