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Pyramid Lake, California
Pyramid Lake and Dam

Pyramid Lake is located about 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles in the Los Padres National Forest. It's easy to find. Just drive north on Interstate 5 till you're near to the top of the Grapevine and look to your left. Exit at Smokey Bear Road and look for the Pyramid Lake Recreation Area.


Pyramid Lake is so named because of the pyramid-shape cutout on the mountain face on the west side of the lake. This lake has it all: fishing, swimming, boating, waterskiing, picnicking, and camping. The lake's shorelines are steep, so most of them are accessible only by boat.

The beauty of the surrounding mountains and the crisp alpine air are a nice change most Angelenos look forward to. Because it's nearly 4,000 feet above sea level, summer temperatures are usually manageable, unlike some of the desert boating spots around Southern California.

Be prepared for an early start. The lake has a capacity of typically 50 PWC and 150 boats, and when the capacities are met, you can't get in till someone else leaves.