Aerial view of Folsom Lake

Folsom Lake, California

Folsom Lake is the largest reservoir in California and the state's epicenter of life and economic prosperity, with many factors contributing to its importance. The lake is situated on the American River in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, United States. Situated in the counties of Sacramento, El Dorado, and Placer, the lake has a surface size of 46.53 sq. km, a height of 142 meters (466 ft), and a shoreline that is 121 km long.

Nearby is the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, one of the most popular parks in California, attracting thousands of visitors a year. The state's 40 million plus citizens depend on Folsom Lake for their water supply.

History Of The Folsom Lake

Folsom Lake
A fishing boat on the Folsom Lake.

Folsom, established during the California Gold Rush, has a rich and long history. It was also the American River's farthest shipping point, as well as the western endpoint of the Pony Express and the end of the railroad line. Prospectors and explorers came to Folsom from all over the world to pursue riches and either settled there for good or just passed through.

Then, in 1948, to prevent floods in Sacramento and generate hydroelectric power, the US Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the Folsom Dam across the American River, funded by the American River Watershed Project.

The finished dam in 1955 allowed for the construction of Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma. In 1957, the park was done, and it opened to the public in 1960.

Activities At Folsom Lake

Folsom Lake
Kayakers having a good time at Folsom Lake. Editorial credit: Cassiohabib /

With the addition of water activities in 1979, it became a perfect vacation spot for families every summer, further increasing Sacramento's economic growth. The park features many activities, such as water skiing, sailing, fishing, or even horseback riding along the trails. 

Nearly 40 miles of beautiful trails are available for joggers, hikers, or cyclists to explore. Adults can take part in activities like the Tap Folsom Beer Fest and Foothill Wine Festival or enjoy live music while discovering the Historic District's stores, eateries, and bars.

The Wildlife 

Wildflower lupines super bloom purple fields on the scenic shore of drained Folsom Lake, California.
Wildflower lupines along the scenic shores of Folsom Lake, California.

Wildlife is very abundant at Folsom Lake, starting with the wide variety of incredible oak trees surrounding the lake itself, such as valley, black, and sporadic oracle oak, as well as California buckeye, toyon, and digger pines.

Vibrant wildflowers, such as the California poppy, lupine, and fiddleneck (to name a few), add incredible color to the already-mesmerizing scenic view. It is also the home of many different animals, including black-tailed deer, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, gray foxes, rabbits, different types of frogs, and even coyotes. During the winter, the lake sees up to 100,000 gulls roosting there.

Additionally, Belted Kingfisher, Green Heron, Wood Ducks, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Black Phoebe, and Wilson's Warblers are only some of the long list of birds seen in the spring and summer, making it a birdwatcher's own little paradise. 

Folsom Lake is a wonderful place to create cherished moments. Tickets are only 12$, and the park is very easy to visit. Don't pass up the opportunity to spend time outdoors, far from the large towns, swimming in the sun. 


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