Beautiful Lakes to Visit in Fresno

Shaver Lake offers the quintessential American summer lake experience, with watersports and stunning scenery
Shaver Lake offers the quintessential American summer lake experience, with watersports and stunning scenery | © Eyal Nahmias / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor10 August 2020

Fresno might be a great place to live, work, vacation and play – but it’s less known for its waterfront views. In the middle of a Central Californian summer, sometimes all you want to do is dive into a cool, clear lake. Watersports, hiking and fishing are popular at these locations – and, of course, they’re all extra-beautiful.

Lost Lake

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The name of this lake is misleading, because it’s very much one of the best lakes in Fresno. Found 19 miles (31km) north of the city, Lost Lake Recreation Area comprises more than 70 acres (28ha) of beautiful land just waiting for you to enjoy. Swimming and fishing are popular here, plus there are picnic facilities, playgrounds and a beach volleyball court for those who want to make a day of it. There are even campgrounds if you’d like to enjoy Lost Lake for several days at a time.

Florence Lake

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90 miles (146km) northeast of the city you’ll find Florence Lake – one of the gems of the area. A lake that possesses a secluded beauty, with stunning views across California. It’s very quiet here, so it’s ideal for spending relaxed, peaceful days with family and friends. There are plenty of facilities, including campgrounds, a picnic area, a store, boat rentals, horseback-riding, and a passenger ferry service to locations around the lake. It’s also very close to the mid-point of the John Muir Trail, one of the most popular hiking trails in the US.

Courtright Reservoir

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The landscape surrounding this lake is truly breathtaking, with bare granite domes rising from the shoreline and a deep canyon at the northern end of the lake. To the east rises the impressive 13,568 foot (1,436m) high Mount Goddard. If you’re not floating in the water enjoying the view, you can camp, hike, fish, horse ride and drive off-highway vehicles in the facilities and nearby trails. The Courtright Reservoir is truly is one of the most beautiful stretches of water in Fresno.

Millerton Lake

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This lake is artificial – it was formed from the construction of Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River – but you wouldn’t know it from how natural it looks. Camping, boating, fishing and classic water recreation are on the menu here. And it’s just 20 miles (32km) northeast of Fresno. The wildlife at this lake is one of the main attractions, with bald eagles often visible and vernal pools (temporary, seasonal pools of after that serve the local wildlife) nearby. Tours of both these attractions are available for some of the year.

Dinkey Creek

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A series of alpine lakes feed into the small stream known as Dinkey Creek in Fresno. At 27 miles (43km) long, it runs through forests, canyons and plenty of wildlife, eventually meeting the North Fork Kings River in Sierra Nevada. This water body offers kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing, horseback-riding, fishing and birdwatching in some of the most beautiful surroundings known to mankind. From mountains to water, Dinkey Creek has it all.

Shaver Lake

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If you’re looking for the quintessential summer lake experience, look no further than Shaver Lake. An hour away from Fresno, it offers all the watersports your heart could desire and scenery you could gaze at all day. Jet-skiing, canoeing, water-skiing, wakeboarding or relaxing on a boat with your loved ones is all on offer here. You can rent any equipment you don’t have. Definitely bring your camera when you go to Shaver Lake, you’ll want to remember the memories you make there.

These recommendations were updated on August 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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