Thumbs Up: Camping, Sailing, and Fishing at Lake Cachuma

When we all woke up in the morning, we gathered around the campfire, threw on some bacon, and began complaining.

The previous evening, our neighbors at the next campsite over seemed to have confused camping with attending a rave – blasting dance music from speakers powered by a generator.

It’s strange to look at your friends – to see the same faces – but then to take a step back and see how much has changed.

There was a time when we may have eaten that scene up, gone over, put our hands in the air. This weekend, all we wanted was to sit together, hang out, chat.

Part of our campsite at Lake Cachuma (#473).

As time moves on, I feel worse and worse for some of my ignorance when I was young.  I certainly remember camping trips where we may have gone a bit too far, turned up the music a little too loud, laughed uncontrollably at three in the morning.

At the time, we thought the elders were being stiff, but I see now all they wanted was to enjoy their weekend, just like we did.

Which brings me to the main problem with camping at a local, easily accessible campground: People.

When we camped on the Channel Islands, the fact that there was no electricity, general store, RVs or fire rings pretty much guaranteed a kick-back, calming experience.

Not necessarily so at Lake Cachuma – my advice would be to go scope out your campsite before you purchase it, see who you’ll be sleeping next to.  This is possible because individual (non-group) campsites are first-come, first-serve, so you don’t pick your site until you arrive (you cannot buy via phone or Internet).

Lake Cachuma.

Oh, and one other giant FYI: Only two vehicles are permitted per campsite.  They take this seriously, and we found this out the hard way – we all arrived at different times throughout the day and were forced to buy three campsites due to the number of vehicles ($25 per night/per campsite). Kind of bogus, but I suppose I understand.

Admin headaches and circumstantial complaints (loud neighbors) aside, Lake Cachuma really impressed me. Our campsite (#473) was on a peninsula – a thirty-second walk to the shore in either direction.

We did some fishing from the shore, rented a fishing boat (you can rent boats, kayaks), and went sailing in the refreshing water. At one point we tied our boats up and drifted down the lake, passing ice-cold beers between the vessels.

Fishing during the sunset.

I’ve seen some awfully nice sunsets in the past few months – the one on the Channel Islands and the one at Live Aqua (Cancun) are the first to come to mind – and Lake Cachuma may have been more impressive than both (I think one day I’ll do a feature on my favorite sunsets).

The pictures of the weekend came out great, although I did not get any of Lolita in action (I was a little busy).  Mr. Parker got his wish of capsizing in the middle of the lake, and I must compliment him on his quick recovery (we were following him upwind and did not even see it happen… down and back up in under a minute…).

Overall, a wonderful weekend, despite the unnatural noise at times. I will never forget the sight of the moon on Friday night, rising over the lake (no pictures were possible due to lack of a tripod).

Here are a few other photos from the trip, and I’ll have some video later this week (I am learning some new software, but should have some time in Detriot this week).

You can find the rest of the pictures in the Travel Photos section.

Day use area at Lake Cachuma.


  1. I am an avid reader of Gonomad and found your Blog. More interested in yours than others because I too reside in Santa Barbara.
    We recently had the same experience camping at Lopez Lake. It seems if you really want to get away from the you have to hike in. Though I do prefer Lopez over Cachuma because you can swim in it!

    Happy trails!

    • Thanks for your note and for reading. I have never been to Lopez Lake, but I shall put it on the list. I’m with you – I always want to swim when I’m at Cachuma.

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