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Lake Camanche is situated on the border of Calaveras and Amador Counties in California's Gold Country tourism region. These two counties played influential roles in the infamous gold rushes of the 1800s. The municipality of Camanche originally went by the name 'Limerick' and then by 'Clay's Bar' before finally, in 1849, was designated 'Camanche' (after a town in Iowa). Interestingly, this town was completely flooded by the East Bay Municipal Utility District in 1962 in order to create today's Camanche Lake. Many buildings and artifacts survived, creating a veritable underwater ghost town just perfect for scuba diving exploration.
With a surface area of 7,770 acres and a maximum depth of 150 feet, Lake Camanche has plenty of room for boat lovers to spread out. Also known as the Camanche Reservoir, the body of water features a 417,120-acre-foot capacity. A power plant, capable of generating 40 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, was built on site in 1983.
Swimming and sunbathing along Lake Camanche's 53 miles of shoreline, or golfing at one of the nearby country clubs can be wonderfully relaxing. The Camanche Recreation Area is divided into two parts: the North Shore and the South Shore. Between October and June each year, the entire reservoir is stocked with 80,000 pounds of trout. Fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, bluegill and crappie is also possible - but anglers should note that as of June, 2009, the use of live bait is no longer allowed. Real estate and vacation rentals are available.
Wake boarding, wind surfing and water skiing are other popular Lake Camanche pastimes, however boats must obey the five mile per hour speed limit. Hiking the reservoir's two trails leads to priceless wildlife watching opportunities. Facilities include marinas with eight-lane launches, boat storage areas, and a general store. Camping is permitted year round, with RV hookups on the south shore. Amenities like barbeques, showers, hot water, picnic areas, playgrounds and restrooms are accessible.
Roughly 10 miles upstream from Lake Camanche sits the Pardee Dam and Reservoir. Fed by the Mokelumne River, both serve as storage areas for irrigation waters. However, Lake Pardee also stores drinking water, and as a result sports and activities requiring human body-water contact are strictly prohibited. Fortunately, fishing is allowed - local species include rainbow trout, kokanee, black bass, catfish, crappie and sunfish. Southeast of the Camanche Reservoir also lies the Wrinkle Cove Day Use Area, Oak Knoll Recreation Area and Acorn Recreation Area - all clustered around New Hogan Lake.
East of Lake Camanche you'll find Yosemite National Park, the renowned home belonging to one of America's favorite cartoons of all time: Yogi the Bear. Before Europeans immigrated here, the Ahwahneechee tribe inhabited the region. Settlers came in the mid-1800s, and populations increased exponentially with the addition of the Yosemite Valley Railroad in 1907. Today, roughly 3.5 million people tour the park annually. Historic gold mines, rock formations, and some of the highest waterfalls on the planet are just a few must-see sights. Adrenaline seekers can't resist heart-pounding activities like mountain biking, backpacking and rock climbing. Skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating can be enjoyed during the winter at the Badger Pass Ski Area. Wildlife watching is unparalleled along the park's 800 miles of trails - home to numerous state endangered animals such as the wolverine and the Sierra Nevada Red Fox.
Lake Camanche is the perfect place for a vacation rental or summer home. Families, couples, and solo travelers alike could spend a lifetime here and never fully explore the diverse parks and preserves nearby - from Tahoe National Forest to King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Watching the sun set at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is an unforgettable memory that every nature lover deserves to savor at least once in a lifetime.
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