Lopez Lake shore

Lakes on Central Coast

Lake Lopez

Santa Margarita Lake

Lake Nacimiento

Lake San Antonio

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The natural freshwater lakes are virtually absent on the Central Coast of California. Zaka Lake is classified as a fresh water lake, but most of the lakes in this region are man made lakes, or reservoirs.

In addition to Zaka Lake, some lagoons exist near the coast such as Oceano Lagoon, Laguna Lake, Oso Flaco Lake, and Black Lake. None of these lakes are like those of the Sierra or the Cascades Mountain ranges to mention two prominent ranges in California that enjoy snow run off to provide water to their lakes.

The man made lakes serve for drinking water irrigation, and recreation. The lakes are more inland from the ocean to catch the water from the winter rain runoff. The weather is a little warmer than the beach weather so favored by tourists in the summer. They do make a comfortable place for camping and recreation, however.


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Lake Lopez, east of Arroyo Grande, has ample recreation including camping. The lake has a store, boat rentals, and is for fishing and water sports. To make reservations for camping call: 805-489-8019.

The Salinas Dam, or Santa Margarita Lake, serves as drinking water for San Luis Obispo and other communities. It too has several sites for picnicking and trails. In the spring this lake and the surrounding area can be a beautiful sight with the green hillsides and flowers.

Two more reservoirs, on the border of San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties, are Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio. The coastal air rises up over the mountains, cools, and then dumps its moistures in have rains as it sinks to the inland side. The rains here measure more than in other parts the county.

The Hearst ranch was once part of these mountains, but when World War II troops needed a training ground, the ownership changed. As visitors travel to Mission San Antonio, the ranch head quarters may be seen to the right as the traveler nears the Mission.

Go to Coast Country Arts for more about Whitman Luis Obispo County offers.

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San Luis Obispo, CA
September 10, 2011
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