Bear River Reservoir California Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Bear River Reservoir

The Bear River Reservoir, in the Eldorado National Forest and not far from Lake Tahoe, is a place of picturesque scenery and superb outdoor recreation like fishing, boating and camping. Read More

  • Find gorgeous scenery and excellent outdoor recreation at the Bear River Reservoir
  • Located southwest of Lake Tahoe off California Highway 88
  • Accessible all year
  • Hike the Tangle Foot Trail to the Mokelumne Wilderness
  • Find amazing sailing on the Bear River Reservoir
  • Camp at any of the four campgrounds


Following Highway 88 through the Eldorado National Forest will bring you from South Lake Tahoe to the Bear River Reservoir, a fabulous spot that offers plenty of outdoor fun for the whole family. You’ll find hiking, camping, boating, fishing and much more.

Location & Information

From South Lake Tahoe, go south on US Highway 50 to the Luther Pass Road (California Highway 89), and turn left on Highway 88 to Bear River Reservoir. Once on Highway 88, it’s approximately 52 miles to the lake.

Bear River Reservoir is accessible all year. The Bear River Lake Resort is open on weekends during the winter.

Contact information: 209-295-4251


  • Hiking
    Just above the upper part of the reservoir, you’ll find the Pardoe Trail, climbing up a rugged ridge. You can also find another trail, the Tangle Foot, which enters the forests at the west boundary to Mokelumne Wilderness.
  • Fishing
    The Bear River Reservoir is an exceptional fishery, offering healthy populations of rainbow and brown trout. Fishing season is from May to October.
  • Boating
    The brisk breezes around the reservoir offer great sailing, but you can also take your powerboat to the lake for water skiing. Near the dam you’ll find launch facilities, and at the Bear River Lake Resort is a marina. You can also launch a boat from the Pardoes Point Campground. You’ll need to portage your canoe or kayak if paddling in the upper reservoir.
  • Camping
    Four campgrounds provide all the amenities you could need for a great camping trip at Bear River Reservoir. They are open from 15 May to 15 October, depending on the weather. You’ll find picnic tables, grills, fire rings and restrooms.
  • Winter Sports
    At the Bear River Lake Resort, you can have access to many snowy recreation opportunities. With 60 miles of groomed trails, you can take to the white landscapes by cross-country skiing or snowmobiling.

Fun Facts

Bear River Reservoir is located on the Bear River at 5,850 feet in elevation, with 727 acres of surface.

The largest fish caught on the lake to date was a 10-pound German brown trout.