Need a weekend in nature? The San Luis reservoir in Northern California may be just the escape destination you are seeking. And we have everything you need to know about San Luis Reservoir camping down below.
About San Luis Reservoir
Located in the San Joaquin Valley, the San Luis Reservoir is west of I-5 near the historic Pacheco Pass. This recreation area has a lot to offer the nature enthusiast. It is particularly popular with anglers and water sports enthusiasts. The area has a campground and three lakes to choose from for boating, fishing, board sailing, and enjoying the shores with a nice picnic.
Best Time of Year to Visit San Luis Reservoir
While the weather isn’t extreme here, the winter does get foggy, and the summers can reach daytime temps of 100 degrees, although the nights are cooler. Prime times to visit are in the spring when wildflowers often showcase their colors briefly across the usually dry hills. Fall is also pleasant from a weather perspective.
Things to Do While Camping at San Luis Reservoir
Many visitors to this recreation area make use of the water for their activities. Fishing is prevalent, as well as boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, and the like. North Beach has a swimming area, and North and South beach have numerous shade structures with tables and BBQ grills. Picnics on the shore are always an excellent addition to a day on the water, and there are walking trails to enjoy scenic views.
At the Romero Creek visitors center, there are telescopes for viewing the area and information on the reservoirs and the water use projects. In addition, there is so much history to explore in the area as well. As this was a popular area with Native Americans, the Northern Valley Yokuts, who grew food crops, hunted various wildlife, and made their homes here. In addition, early pioneer routes came through and over Pacheco pass, which was a toll road briefly in 1856, and stagecoaches used the route from Missouri to San Francisco.
San Luis Reservoir Camping Areas
San Luis Creek Campground
Gustine, CA 95322
The San Luis Creek campground has 53 sites near the O’Neill forebay, and they all offer water and electric hookups, and most can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 30 feet. Some sites border the water. Drawbacks to this area are the lack of shade and being open to the infamous wind. There are no flush toilets or showers, but each site has a level pad, table, and fire ring. There is a dump station on-site, and a 5-mile walking trail around the water provides a pleasant activity. $40/$45 a night with hookups.
Gustine, CA 95322
The Medeiros campground has primitive sites along the southern shore of O’Neill Forebay. There are a few shade structures and fire rings, and this is a first-come, first-serve campground without flush toilets or showers, but drinking water is available in 3 locations within the camping area. $20/$25 no amenities.
Basalt Rd, Gustine, CA 95322
The Basalt campground has 79 campsites for tents, RVs, and campers up to 30 feet. The sites have some shade, a table, and a fire ring. If you are looking for a short walk, Basalt campground closest to the actual San Luis Reservoir. New bathrooms offer hot showers and flushable toilets, and there is a dump station for registered trailers. This campground accepts reservations year-round. $30/$35 a night.
Santa Nella RV Park
13023 CA-33, Gustine, CA 95322
The Santa Nella RV Park is a private campground is located 2 miles north of Highway 152/Pacheco Pass and ¼ mile west of I-5 on State 33 in Santa Nella, CA. Santa Nella is located perfectly in a quiet area, but yet close to town and restaurants. This park offers more luxuries than camping in the reservoir campsites with full hookups, pull-through sites, free wifi and cable, remodeled restrooms and laundry room, and even a dog run. If you have a larger rig or more refined tastes, the Santa Nella RV park can accommodate your camping in the San Luis Reservoir area for $48/day, $250/week, or $450-$695 monthly. They offer discounts for Good Sam, AAA, and the military.
Oasis West RV Park (formerly Los Banos West KOA)
28485 Gonzaga Rd, Santa Nella, CA 95322
The Oasis West RV Park has 30/50 amp pull-through sites, cable and wifi, and a pool. There are big rig-friendly-sized sites, so if you don’t fit at the reservoir SRA sites, this may be a great choice! A group patio with grills is available for outdoor seating, and there is plenty of shade. Tent campers are welcome in the grassy area. The daily rate is $50, weekly $288, and monthly $740 plus metered electricity.
The San Luis Reservoir is a great place to escape the city and enjoy some nature in central California. With numerous water-based activities, and a gorgeous body of water to enjoy on hikes and picnics, this area has a lot to offer. A variety of camping situations are available to base your adventures in a tent, RV or trailer. If central California is on your radar, check out the San Luis Reservoir for your next trip!