Crystal Basin Recreation Area
A sparkling jewel in the Sierras, Crystal Basin Reservoir provides outdoor recreation as well as clean, affordable energy
Since 1957, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, we’ve worked to make Crystal Basin a spectacular destination in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It’s not only home to our Upper American River hydroelectric system, but is also open to the public for enjoyment of outdoor recreation.
Looking at the sparkling beauty, it’s easy to forget that the area annually produces enough clean, affordable energy to power about 180,000 Sacramento homes. Crystal Basin proves it’s possible to create clean, affordable energy and protect our wild spaces for future generations.
Ready to plan your trip?
It’s the perfect place for a family vacation. Many of the developed areas are accessible for people with disabilities.
For information on campgrounds, roads and trails, cabins and fire restrictions, call the Eldorado National Forest at 1-530-647-5400.
We’re making improvements!
Over the next few years, many of the Crystal Basin Recreational Areas will be upgraded, with several new features added for your future enjoyment. However, the work will require some sites to be partially or completely closed during renovations. Please view the map for a closure schedule and information to help with your planning. Thank you.
The average high temperature at Crystal Basin is 72 in July and August. Nights can be cool, so pack accordingly.
Want more? Here is regularly updated information about conditions and weather at Crystal Basin.
Average weather conditions
(Precipitation data from 1962-2007 at five Upper American River Project locations)
More than 700 developed drive-in campsites are available, each with a fire ring and barbecue grate and table. Piped water, trash containers and toilets are available at most campgrounds. Loon Lake Chalet and Robbs Hut offer year-round lodging for larger groups.
Anglers cast for small-mouth bass, mackinaw, German brown or rainbow trout in the area's lakes and streams. View Trout planting schedule
All lakes have ramp access. Ice House Reservoir, Union Valley Reservoir and Loon Lake have paved boat ramps and are large enough to accommodate motorboats.
Group and individual equestrian campgrounds are available at both Loon Lake and Wrights Lake, with access to scenic trails.
Hikers can access more than 117 miles of trails across the Sierra Nevada. Many offer easy-to-moderate day hikes.
Cross-country skiers can traverse miles of pristine ski trails near Loon Lake.
Enjoy a 4.5-mile paved bike trail that meanders through beautiful timber stands of old grove sugar and ponderosa pine trees and offers great views of the Union Valley Reservoir.