New Melones Lake
Each year, approximately 800,000 visitors enjoy the various recreational opportunities at New Melones Lake. Developed facilities are available at Glory Hole and Tuttletown Recreation Areas. Facilities include day use areas, boat launch ramps, more than 300 campsites, hiking, biking and equestrian trails, a visitor center and museum, and miles of water based recreation.
Facilities at the Glory Recreation Area include a full-service marina, amphitheater, playground, horseshoe pits, 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, campgrounds, day-use areas, multi-lane launch ramp, and a fish cleaning station. Facilities at the Tuttletown Recreation Area include hiking and biking trails, campgrounds, day-use areas, multi-lane launch ramp, and a fish cleaning station.
New Melones Dam and Reservoir are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. It is located 60 miles upstream on the Stanislaus River from the confluence of the San Joaquin River. The reservoir has a capacity of 2.4 million acre feet of water with 100 miles of shoreline, and a water surface area of 12,500 acres. New Melones is located between the historic mining towns of Sonora and Angels Camp on Highway 49 and is nestled in the Foothill Oak Woodlands of the Sierras at the 1,100 foot elevation.
Boat launch ramps with courtesy docks are located in Glory Hole and Tuttletown Recreation Areas. Restrooms, paved parking and launch ramps are provided. Due to the changing levels of the lake throughout the year, boaters should be aware of submerged hazards on New Melones Lake.
The lake is generally fullest in early summer, and lowest in mid-winter. Conditions can change on a daily basis depending on river inflows, and outflows being released through the New Melones powerhouse.
Boaters must have the required safety equipment on board their boat such as lifejackets, ski flag, fire extinguisher etc. as required by the U.S. Coast Guard and California Department of Boating and Waterways. Safety equipment for boats can be purchased at New Melones Lake Marina and Glory Hole Sports.
New Melones Lake Marina offers boat rentals, camping supplies and snacks. For more information call (209) 785-3300 or visit http://houseboats.com/new-melones-lake.
Bald eagles, barn owls, great horned owls and osprey can be seen at New Meolones Lake.
Mountain bikers will enjoy the numerous trails through the woodland areas.
There are two recreation areas at New Melones Lake with camping facilities. Gloryhole Recreation Area has two campgrounds (Big Oak and Ironhorse) with 144 campsites. Tuttletown Recreation Area has three campgrounds (Acorn, Chamise, and Manzanita) with 161 campsites. Two group campgrounds are available by reservation only.
Campsites in both recreation areas have a combination of back in, pull through, and walk-in tent sites, complete with fire rings, picnic tables, shade trees, shared water, and flush toilets (with showers available in selected restrooms). Camping sites can accommodate up to eight people with two vehicles, and do not have hookups. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
One of the "lures" of New Melones Lake is its superb fishing. Water conditions sustain a variety of game fish to challenge anglers. Throughout the year, a wide variety of special events also provide fun and challenges for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Fish to be found at New Melones include Largemouth Bass, Rainbow and German Brown Trout, Catfish, Crappie, and Bluegill are the most common. Fishing season is year-round, and limits are set by the California Fish and Game Dept.
The California Fish and Game Commission requires that all individuals 16 years of age and older must purchase an annual license before fishing in California. The penalty for fishing without a proper license can be costly, so keep your license up to date, with you, and displayed properly at all times when fishing at New Melones Lake. If you do not have a fishing license, you can purchase one at the New Melones Lake Marina, Glory Hole Sports, Lake View Sports Supplies, Wal-Mart, and other local businesses.
New Melones Lake has an extensive hiking and biking trail system for visitor use, providing opportunities to explore the area's natural, geologic and cultural resources. Currently, the majority of trails have been developed within the Glory Hole Recreation Area. Plans are in development for a complementary system of trails in the Tuttletown Recreation Area.
Outlying area hiking trails provide visitors with still more challenging opportunities to view some of the unique natural and cultural features of the region including Natural Bridges, the Peoria Wildlife Management Area, Camp Nine, and Table Mountain. Visitors can stop by the visitor center on Highway 49 for detailed maps and trail descriptions.
Nature viewers and birders will find a number of species common to the Foothill Oak Woodland, with an occasional Bald Eagle and Osprey. Hikers and mountain bikers will enjoy the numerous trails through the woodland areas.
The New Melones Lake Visitor Center and Museum provide information on the use of the Stanislaus River by prehistoric and historic peoples. It contains displays and exhibits on the area's geologic past, Mi-Wok Indian and early human history, the California Gold Rush, mining techniques, ranching, the town of Robinson Ferry, natural history and the New Melones project.
The Visitor Center and Museum are located on Highway 49, between Sonora and Angels Camp, just 1/4 mile south of the Highway 49 Stevenot Stanislaus River Bridge. It is open daily from Memorial Weekend through Labor Day, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. From Labor Day through Memorial Weekend it is open five days a week, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Volunteers and ranger staff are available to provide information, maps and orientation to New Melones Lake and other local interests. Contact the visitor center at (209) 536-9543.
Ranger-led programs, evening lectures, nature walks and kids programs are also available at the lake.
Horseback riding is permitted in the Peoria Wildlife Management Area (PWMA). The PWMA covers approximately 2,500 acres (1,100 ha) and is located on the southwest side of New Melones Lake.
It was purchased specifically as mitigation for wildlife habitat loss as a result of construction of the New Melones Dam and Reservoir.
Please contact park services for more information.
Day use such as picnicking, shoreline fishing, hiking, and biking is permitted in all recreation and outlying areas around New Melones Lake. Day use parking and picnicking is not permitted in the campgrounds.
Reservations can be made for Eagle Point Group Picnic Area in the Tuttletown Recreation Area (no overnight camping is permitted). To make a reservation visit www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777
There are two RV sites available. A dump station is also available
Fishing, boating, water skiing, wake boarding, jet skiing, sailing, swimming, kayaking and canoeing are enjoyed at this large, yet uncrowded lake.
The environment of New Melones Project consists of plant and animal communities ranging from open water, riparian, and oak woodland communities to conifer stands in the upper canyons. Consequently, there is a broad range of wildlife present including mule deer, gray fox, California quail, red-tail hawks, golden and bald eagles, osprey, 12 species of fish, and a variety of bats. Tiger salamanders, toads, and fairy shrimp can be found in the isolated vernal pools.
The Peoria Wildlife Management Area (PWMA), located on the southwest side of New Melones Lake, provides natural habitat for many species of native plants, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including species listed as threatened, endangered, or species of special concern. There is no motorized access into the area; however, it is used for hiking, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hunting (as regulated by the California Department of Fish and Game).
Located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the weather is typical of California, with a dry summer and wet winter pattern. Temperatures can reach 113 °F (45 °C) in the summer to a winter low of 14 °F (-10 °C). Annual precipitation varies from 20 inches (50 cm) in the vicinity of the New Melones Dam to 40 inches (101 cm) in the upper reaches of the reservoir. Most precipitation falls between November and April.
New Melones Lake is located on Highway 49, approximately 8 miles (13 km) north of Sonora and 6 miles (9 km) south of Angels Camp, California. Located in the Southern Mother Lode, it is within a short drive of other attractions such as Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, and only a 1-hour drive to Yosemite National Park. The Bureau of Reclamation provides developed facilities at Glory Hole and Tuttletown Recreation Areas. Easy access is found off of Highway 49.
From Sacramento, drive 46 miles south on I-5 to Stockton. At Stockton, east on California Highway 4 for 56 miles to Angels Camp. Headquarters is eight miles south of Angels Camp along Highway 49.