Not far from Los Angeles, along the western coast, Lake Casitas provides an excellent and refreshing area to camp in. A little bit in the interior, easily reached by car, Lake Casitas is a man-made reservoir of water. Perhaps many don’t know that its water is used for irrigation and drinking from the nearby communities. It was devised as a significant reservoir for the surrounding areas since 1959.
First filled with water in the 1970s, Lake Casitas has formed thanks to a dam and the water from the Ventura River. It hosted the canoeing and rowing events in 1984 in Los Angeles Summer Olympics. The popularity of the lake soared since then, and nowadays it is a great place to spend time in a campsite or just rowing around.
It is forbidden to make any contact with your body with the water though, due to the water is being used for human consumption. No swimming is permitted then. There’s no problem instead of navigating or fishing in the lake as long as your body doesn’t touch the water, for sanitary reasons.
Not being permitted to swim in it doesn’t stop visitors from coming and spending leisure time camping at the Lake Casitas. There are after all plenty of other activities to enjoy your time there. Let’s see a few.
Camping at The Lake Casitas
The most popular way to stay around the lake is by booking a campsite. Whether you need a whole week or just a couple of days for camping, various levels of campsites are available around the Lake Casitas camping area. Tourist activities are grouped near the primary campsite area on the north coast of the lake.
There are numerous choices, from very basic camping sites, providing you with no water or electricity, to “hookup sites”, with both water, electricity, and more. Various comfort levels can be experienced in the campsites around Lake Casitas, according to one’s needs. Rates go up from about $35/night to double that amount for more featureful campsites. Booking in groups is possible so that you can have all the areas around you only for yourself and your friends or family.
Lake Casitas Camping sites are named with a single letter, going from A to M. A few campsites also have playgrounds for those who are coming with little kids. Each Lake Casitas camping site allows up to six people and three vehicles, which is included in the camping reservation. Pets are allowed too.
You will find the Lake Casitas camping sites on the northern coast of the lake. They’re easily accessible from the north road crossing in a west-east direction, the immediate north area of the lake. This area is where the main entrance to the whole Lake Casitas is located. A parking lot is present at this camping area, along with a small café for restoration.
Discounts can be obtained with the Snowbird Program, which allows you to camp from October till the Sunday before Easter of the next year with reduced rates. If you can travel during winter times, booking a campsite at Lake Casitas is an excellent way to enjoy your time while saving money.
Of course, camp tents for rent and RV is possible at the recreation area at the entrance of the Lake Casitas from the north. If you just have your car, you can rent your camping equipment and vehicle right on the spot. BBQs are permitted as well as bringing your own food.
Reservations at any campsites are possible through the internet or phone. Make sure to have your credit card available with you when reserving. Depending on the comfort levels that you are requesting from the campsites, some can be booked for days and days. It’d be advisable to make a call to the Lake Casitas recreation Centre to get updated information about the availability of your campsite of choice.
Water activities at the Lake Casitas Camping
Once you’ve reserved your spot for camping at the lake, it’s time to enroll in some activities around it. The most popular are fishing, rowing, and canoeing.
In the recreation area, you can rent all the equipment you need for any of these activities, in case you don’t have them. Fishing is possible to do on your own, by buying a license beforehand, or with a tour that will teach you how to.
Rowing, canoeing, and paddling are also particularly popular. Remember, as long as you don’t swim in the lake; you are allowed to cross it with any mentioned methods. Another popular thing among the visitors is navigating along Main Island to admire its uncontaminated nature. From the few piers near the campsites, you can leave and reach the island in minutes. Be aware that Main Island is a peninsula jutting out of the mainland from the north, so it’s not possible to circumnavigate it all.
If you want to be more physically active, surf schools and diving tours can be booked nearby the Lake Casitas camping sites on the Pacific Ocean coast. As it is forbidden to swim in the lake, these activities have to be had outside of it. But the ocean coast is close to the lake and getting there from your campsite place near Lake Casitas won’t take much.
For the closest swimming experience you can have in the actual Lake Casitas camping area, Lake Casitas Water Adventure Park is a water park right next to the main campsite area of the Lake Casitas. It is a small park but provides you with some water slides and pools in which you can spend your time swimming and refreshing yourself. During the hottest months, it is a not to miss spot for all the Lake Casitas visitors.
Of course, do reserve your spot for all these activities well in advance, especially during the summer. Camping spots can fill up quickly.
For those more inclined to explore the area around the lake, plenty of activities are available. Beautiful spots to spend a day in nature can be found here and there throughout the lake’s surroundings.
Hiking is extremely popular. The Lake Casitas nature is a mix of semi-deserted grounds and temperate flora. Many hiking paths leave from the lake’s coasts leading to the interior. Most of them are secure as the elevation is low and provide you with little to no difficulties in following. Walking alongside the lake borders, southward is particularly lovely as the area is devoided of human presence. Nature is at its wildest here, making it the most beautiful hiking path you can follow from your Lake Casitas camping spot.
Another well-known path is the Rose Valley Falls Trail that goes northward instead of the central area with all the campsites. Its highlight is in the fall part from which the name comes. You can go right under the water falling as it is not dangerous as the flow never being strong enough to make you fall.
Those who are coming to camping in the Lake Casitas with a bike can use it to follow many paths around the lake. A pathway specifically for bikes is also present, going from the recreation area to the Ojai town to the north-east of the lake. It is a 7 miles ride, passing through the Ventura River and the Mira Monte town before reaching Ojai. Less nature but still a great way to admire the area around Lake Casitas.
Golf fans can play at Coyote Point Disc Golf Course, a professionally designed golf course, featuring challenging throws and tight shots. It is situated west to the recreation area, not far from the lake’s very borders. Excellent views over the water are thus guaranteed while playing.
If you are looking for more cultural activities, Lake Casitas camping sites have them too. Meditation classes can be booked in Ojai, in a splendid, peaceful center with views of the sunset over the lake from afar.
Olive oil is being produced in Ojai, and you can taste Ojai Olive Oil there. Not just olive oil, but also balsamic oil and products for the skin based on the extra virgin oil are locally cultivated in Ojai.
Closer to the Lake Casitas camping sites, the Old Creek Ranch and Winery is located in the Ventura Valley, allowing you to taste wine and have a picnic in a delightful orchard. It is located closer to the Lake Casitas camping sites than the other places in Ojai, making it an easy day trip to drink good wine and have lunch among the vineyards and the gardens.
Why camping at The Lake Casitas?
The area is exquisite, never packed, and the camping facilities are well-kept. The possibility to camp right next to the lake and its proximity to many activities make choosing to camp at the Lake Casitas a great way to spend a few off days. Away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, amid nature and a semi-desert panorama, Lake Casitas camping area is an ideal place to choose for your camping time.
Kids will find a lot of fun activities at the water park, adults are into sports activities, and more cultural ones will have enough not to get bored.