Northern California has more houseboating opportunities than any other state in the Union, but a little homework is always in order. For comprehensive information and comparisons, check in with Forever Resorts, biggest player in the state, and with web-based booking agencies houseboating.org and houseboats.com, each of which represents multiple operators. Meanwhile, from north to south, here are some premier places to float your boat.
• Trinity Lake – This pristine lake nestled in the Trinity Alps northwest of Redding is quiet, uncrowded and known for trout, bass, kokanee salmon and catfish fishing. Trinity Lake Resorts & Marinas, part of the Forever Resorts franchise, is the sole houseboat operator here. Dogs are welcome for a $100 nonrefundable deposit.
• Shasta Lake – One of the largest bodies of water in California is endowed with 360 miles of jagged shoreline indented with cove after cove where houseboats can anchor out in solitude or bob in the company of others. You’ll find lots of dog-friendly options among operators including Shasta Marina Resort, Seven Crown Resorts (two locations), Jones Valley Resort and Holiday Harbor.
• Lake Oroville – This Butte County gem with 167 miles of shoreline is known for its fishing, but houseboaters also know it for three pristine arms extending into the South, Middle and North Forks of the Feather River. Pull up at any of three boat-in campgrounds or find a spot of your own to anchor for the night. Pet-friendly Forever Resorts rents vessels out of Lake Oroville Marina in the Lime Saddle Recreation Area.
• Lake Berryessa – The rugged terrain surrounding this pretty Napa County reservoir was licked by wildfire this summer and last, but when the skies are clear, boats buzz on its surface. Pleasure Cove Marina is the concessionaire here, and dogs are welcome for a $100 per-pet fee.
• California Delta – Weigh anchor at Paradise Point Marina in Stockton to explore more than 1,000 miles of waterways comprising the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, one of the largest estuaries in the world. Tides and currents make boating here considerably more challenging than on a lake. Dogs welcome at no extra charge.
Photo Credit: Björn Söderqvist (CC)