Ruffin' it on lake Shasta. Photo: Houseboats.com
If your idea of a truly relaxing vacation is a fresh-air filled week with the family, houseboating could be just the ticket. Whether you choose a bare bones model geared to fisher-folk or a floating palace that can handle a crowd, there are plenty of dog-friendly houseboat options to choose from.
Shasta Lake, just outside Redding, is considered the houseboating capital of California, and for good reason: with more than 360 miles of jagged shoreline, you can anchor in a new cove every night and have a star-filled sky all to yourself.
Seven marinas on Lake Shasta rent houseboats, with dog-friendly operators including Shasta Marina Resort, Seven Crown Resorts, Jones Valley Resort and Holiday Harbor. Shasta is a big, deep lake with plenty of water for recreation, but be aware that water levels are low this year due to drought, which means you may have to scramble up a steep bank from your anchoring spot to reach stretches of shoreline that otherwise would be easily accessible.
Trinity Lake, just north of Shasta, near Weaverville, is another houseboating haven. Trinity Lake Resorts & Marina, part of the Forever Resorts franchise, is the sole houseboat operator here. Board your floating home-away-from-home at Cedar Stock Marina, which also rents fishing boats, canoes and kayaks, as well as overnight cabin accommodations.
In addition to houseboating, Trinity’s glassy coves and 145 miles of shoreline invite lazy days of dog-friendly exploration. The lake is known for fishing, and boat-in camping is a popular option. Developed campgrounds abound, and the Trinity Lake KOA has pet-friendly cabins with bathrooms, along with RV sites, tent sites, and boat rentals.
So what’s to expect from your first houseboating adventure? Think of a houseboat as a slow-moving RV that takes a long time to turn, and you get an idea of what driving one is like. If you’re a novice, you'll be given an extensive orientation before shoving off.
Houseboat rental rates on both lakes vary according to season, size of the boat and amenities. Fuel and tax are extra, and deposits are required. Mid-June to mid-August is the high season. You can enjoy discounted rates in the spring and fall. Regardless of time of year, most companies require a two- or three-night minimum rental.
Two website booking agencies representing multiple houseboat operators in California are Houseboating.org and Houseboats.com.