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. Guided nature walks are held the second Saturday of the month at 8:30AM.
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, 10-4
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, an old fashioned fiddlers' jam is held in the barn, open to the public (no charge).
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, 10-4 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, 12-4
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:
Lake County is one of California's top wine producing regions and many of our wineries are in picturesque settings. Wineries are usually open at least from Friday to Sunday but hours may vary so check web sites for updated opening times and policies. Reservations for tasting or tables is often recommended. We encourage you to drink responsibly and have a designated driver.
Here are 8 great wineries to visit, less than a half hour drive from Clear Lake Campground:
Fults Family Vineyard
Fults Family Vineyard, just 5 minutes from Camp, is a family owned winery that produces a variety of red and white wines, a rose', and a couple of dessert wines. Their top wine is a Super Tuscan, similar to what you'd find in the Chianti wine region of Tuscany. Open Thursday through Sunday, 11-5.
address: 11441 Highway 29, Lower Lake
website: Fults Family Vineyards
Six Sigma Ranch and Winery
Six Sigma has picnic tables, hiking and biking trails, and a store where visitors can purchase wine, picnic items, and meat products produced right on the ranch. This is the perfect place to splurge on high-quality steak and wine for your barbecue back at Camp. Open daily, 11-4:30.
address: 13372 Spruce Grove Road, Lower Lake, about a 20 minute drive from camp
website: Six Sigma
Gregory Graham Winery
Just off Hwy 29 about 10 minutes from Camp, Gregory Graham has whites, elegant reds, big reds, and dessert wines. Open Friday - Sunday, 11-5.
address: 13633 Point Lakeview Rd, Lower Lake
website: Gregory Graham
Shannon Ridge Mercantile
Shannon Ridge Mercantile is just off Highway 29 in Kelseyville. It has a full wine bar featuring tastings of Shannon Ridge family of wines, a small shop, and lots of outside picnic area. Lunch items are available from local caterer Rosy Cooks. On Saturday mornings there's a farmers' market. Open 11-6, 7 days a week.
address: 4350 Thomas Drive, Kelseyville
website: Shannon Ridge Mercantile
Boatique Winery has several patio areas in a beautiful setting surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. Boatique produces a sparkling wine, a Sauvignon Blanc, a rose', and several reds. In addition to wine tasting, guests can stroll through the avenue of olive trees or see their unusual collection of antique and wooden boats. Open Thursday - Sunday, noon to 5.
address: 8255 Red Hills Rd, Kelseyville
website: Boatique Winery
Laujour Estate offers wine tasting in a beautiful outdoor setting with great views and a large selection of wines available to taste just 15 minutes from Camp. Tours are available by reservation. Open daily, 11-5.
address: 8664 Siegler Springs Rd Kelseyville
website: Laujour Estate
Brassfield Estate Winery
Brassfield is a grand estate in the High Valley, off Highway 20, just 21 minutes from Camp. Wine tasting is offered in the beautiful outdoor gardens or limited indoor seating. Be sure to taste the Eruption wine, an ode to our volcanic soils and one of our favorites. Open daily, 11-5.
address: 10915 High Valley Rd, Clearlake Oaks
website: Brassfield Estate
Cache Creek Vineyards & Winery
Cache Creek Winery has a spacious outdoor area with a patio, shaded lawn area, and bocce court. 4 different flight options are available for tastings. Cache Creek produces sparkling, white, rose', red, and dessert wines. Open daily, 10:30-5.
address: 250 New Long Valley Road, Clearlake Oaks, 15 minutes from Camp - north on Hwy 53, then east on Hwy 20
website: Cache Creek Vineyards
* A Lake County Wine Passport (good for the year) includes tastings at 16 wineries, a good value if you plan to visit several wineries, and discounts at participating restaurants.
If you want to taste wine without worrying about driving, consider hiring a limo from Dock Factory Limos. They'll pick you up and drop you off right at Camp!
What Are Some Hiking Ideas for Lake County?
Hiking or walking is a favorite activity of campers at Clear Lake Campground. Lake County has hiking trails to satisfy everyone, ranging from easy to strenuous. We recommend that you always carry water, use sunscreen, and wear a hat. During summer, it's best to hike in the morning. Be sure to check regulations too as each place has their own set of rules for hikers to follow. Here are 5 Great Places to Hike 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), a large picnic area, the historic ranch house (closed except for special events) and a network of hiking trails shown on the map posted at the parking area. An easy nature trail (shown in the photo below) leads to the creek where there's a bridge and a platform for bird watching or just enjoying the scenery. McVicar, the longest trail, is a 3.5 mile walk along the western boundary of the marsh leading to Clear Lake. The park includes several habitats including oak woodlands, freshwater marsh, riparian, and grasslands. In addition to birds, you may see deer or even rattlesnakes, so take care especially when it's sunny and hot. Dogs, horses, and bicycles are not permitted.
Address: 8400 Hwy 53, Lower Lake
See Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association for more information
Clear Lake State Park
Clear Lake State Park, on the lake shore, has several hiking trails ranging from an easy 1/2 mile self-guided nature trail to moderately strenuous trails in the hills. In the park are picnic areas, boat launch, fishing areas, and a beach from where you can swim. You may see a variety of birds and water fowl as well as turtles, squirrels, muskrats, and minks. There's a fee for day use. Dogs are allowed on a leash but not on the beach.
Address: 5300 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville, 20 miles from Camp
Web site: Clear Lake State Park
Six Sigma Ranch and Winery
Six Sigma has 7 free hiking and biking trails ranging from an easy 2 mile hike to a very hard 3.1 mile trail with steep hills. Visitors should sign in at the tasting room and sign a liability form before starting. Also available are picnic tables and the winery shop where you can buy wine and picnic items such as local cheeses and crackers.
Address: 13372 Spruce Grove Road, Lower Lake, about a 20 minute drive from Camp
More information on the Six Sigma web site
Highlands Springs Recreation Area:
Highlands Springs, at an elevation of 1483 feet, is about half an hour from camp. Visitors can use hiking and biking trails and there are picnic areas with BBQs, a large grassy area, horseshoe pits, a beach area with swimming, fishing spots, and water access for non-motorized boats. It's a great choice for families and favorite place for kayaking and swimming in summer. Most of the hiking trails are fairly hilly and rugged, providing good views. Bring water as there's no potable water available.
Address: 3600 E. Highland Springs Rd., Lakeport, off Hwy 29 (left turn coming from Camp)
More information: Highland Springs
Mt Konocti County Park
For a strenuous hike, head to Mt Konocti County Park in Kelseyville. From the upper parking lot, the steep Wright Peak Summit Trail heads to the top of the dormant volcano for fantastic views. It's a little over 6 miles round trip with a 1600 foot elevation gain. The park is open for hiking only and smoking is not permitted due to fire danger.
Address: 5413-5553 Konocti Rd, Kelseyville, about 20 miles from Camp
Wright Peak Summit Trail Map and Description
Directions and information: Mt Konocti County Park
Lake County is a bird watchers paradise. You are likely to see birds at any of these hiking spots. These are the most common birds to look for around Clear Lake.
Anderson Marsh photo credit: Anderson Marsh Interpretive Society, used by permission
Explore More Activities at Clear Lake Campground:
Martha Bakerjian is a travel writer who divides her time between Clearlake and northern Tuscany.
She writes about Italy on her site, Martha's Italy.
Clear Lake is well-known to bass fisherman as the best lake for bass fishing west of the Mississippi and it's often named as one of the top bass fishing lakes in the US. The lake is a great habitat for bass because of its warm, shallow water. Since Clear Lake doesn't freeze over, it's possible to fish any time of year, too. Bass fishing is best done from a boat although it's possible to catch them from shore, both in the lake and along Cache Creek.
The annual Clear Lake Team Bass Tournament, held in late March (2023 date is March 25-26), draws bass fishermen from all over California and beyond. Clear Lake's record largemouth bass weighed in at 17.52 pounds.
While bass may be the most popular fish to catch, Clear Lake and Cache Creek are excellent spots for catching catfish, bluegill, crappie, and carp. These fish can easily be caught from shore, making fishing one of the most popular and enjoyable activities at Clear Lake Campground, right on Cache Creek. Catfish are the fish most commonly caught at the campground but campers also catch smaller fish, carp, and sometimes bass from our bank. Even kids have a great time fishing off the bank and hauling in their catch! There's a fish cleaning station right by the pier too so it's easy to clean your fish if you don't want to throw them back.
You don't need any special lures for these fish either, night crawlers or small minnows are good for bluegill, crappie, and catfish. Catfish will bite on other things too including crawdads, chicken liver, mackerel, and even hot dogs. It's not uncommon for catfish to weigh close to 20 pounds. Catfish Derby winners range from 22.24 to 24.87 pounds. Just remember that catfish have prickly spines so it's best to wear gloves when you handle them.
The annual Catfish Derby, held in May, is billed as the "largest catfish tournament west of the Mississippi". We have our own Camper Catfish Derby right here at Camp in May, too (2023 date is May 19-20).
Clear Lake Campground is the perfect place to spend lazy days fishing, watching ducks swim by or birds flying overhead, and enjoying the peaceful view of Anderson Marsh right across the creek. Our store stocks live night crawlers and frozen bait including mackerel, sardines, chicken liver, anchovies, and clams. We also sell hooks and weights but for bigger items and more selection, Clearlake Bait and Tackle is just 2.5 miles away at 14699 Lakeshore.
So just book your campsite and bring your pole - we'll be waiting for you!
Remember that you do need a fishing license to fish, even for a day. You can get one online from California Department of Fish and Wildlife or buy one in town at Clearlake Bait and Tackle.
If you'd like to spend a day with a fishing guide, you'll find several listed on Clear Lake Fishing.
More Activities to Enjoy at Clear Lake Campground:
Martha Bakerjian is a travel writer who divides her time between Clearlake and northern Tuscany. She writes about Italy on her site, Martha's Italy.
Where to Go
From the launching ramp at Clear Lake Campground turn right and continue on Cache creek with your back to the highway.
Our itinerary takes you into a marsh, past a blue heron rookery, and out into the lake where a stand of tules hosts a clamorous array of red-winged, tri-colored and yellow-headed blackbirds. Amongst the cottonwoods, valley oaks, California buckeye, California bay, and native California black walnut that line the creek you'll see plenty of birds, and in late April and into May you'll likely encounter large carp mating noisily in the shadows and you might come upon turtles sunning themselves on low branches and rocks.
Let's take a look at the Map:
If you're wondering what the distances for the itinerary might be, it's approximately 1.9 miles to Indian Island.
Freshwater Marsh Birds
"The marsh’s waters are home to mallards, double-crested cormorants, and various
Riparian Woodland Birds You Might See
Great Blue Herons, Red-shouldered hawks, great horned owls, Anna’s hummingbirds, American crows, wood ducks, phainopepla, golden eagles, and northern orioles thrive in Riparian Woodland.
Enjoy your kayak trip. Don't let go of that camera. Find more places for bird watching around the lake.
Spring is a beautiful time to come to Clear Lake. The hills are green, water in the lake is high, and fishing is usually good.
Then there's the kayaking. Oh, the kayaking!
This isn't the place that sinewy, unshaven, and fearless men shoot through rapids and torpedo down waterfalls. Kayaking Clear Lake--especially along Cache Creek, can be a family affair. In spring the water is at its highest, and the flow out the dam is just enough to give you some exercise as you paddle towards the lake. On the return you can drift lazily if you wish, gazing at the great blue herons, blindingly white egrets, and, if you are lucky, Clear Lake's famed white pelicans that can fill the sky, long vees of them turning from white to silver and back again as they bank into the wind.
Smaller birds are more easily heard than seen; they fill the air with songs city dwellers probably haven't heard before.
But here's the thing about springtime along Cache Creek. When the water is high (and as I write it's very high) you can duck into places with your kayak that you can't get into at other times of the year. Anderson Marsh is flooded, leaving reedy expanses for you to explore and get lost within. You need to have a good sense of direction to avoid getting helplessly lost, but have no fear, you are hemmed in by mountain slopes planted with vineyards, blossoming walnut trees and orchards of Bartlett pears.
If you are a visual person, you might enjoy a little video we've made with an old cell phone. It starts along the main creek, then heads toward the marsh and out again as we drift past the colorful trees just awakening from their winter slumber.
Remember, you can rent kayaks, canoes, or small motor boats right at Clear Lake Campground...
book a boat rental now.
James Martin is a travel writer who scribbles mostly about European places. He spends half his year in Italy, and writes the Wandering Italy Blog from the part of Tuscany nobody knows: The Lunigiana.
Martha Bakerjian is a part-time employee at Clear Lake Campground and writes a web site about Italy: