Just an hour away from Los Angeles? You won’t know it at Silverwood Lake State Recreational Area, where water sports abound and gorgeous mountain scenery provide the perfect getaway from city life. Enjoy a dip in the bright blue lake, or if you’re looking to break a sweat, head out for some water skiing or kayaking. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch at one of Silverwood Lake’s prized picnic spots, accessible only by boat. Ready to give the water a break? Silverwood Lake has plenty of wooded trails to explore by bike or foot, and the bird-watchers will be satisfied by the variety of songbirds, waterfowl and even raptors that take up residence on the lake. Silverwood Lake camping is a favorite pastime of all species.
At Silverwood Lake, camping is made easy with Mesa Campground’s extensive variety of campsites. Choose from lakeside loops, large group sites, and boating-specific sites that will get you out on the water before sunrise. Miller Canyon sites provide a little more seclusion but without the lake views. No matter where you choose, you won’t be able to stay out of the water for long at Silverwood Lake.
Definitely go swimming here when it’s hot. There’s some harmless algae, but who cares? It’s nature!
For more than 2,500 years, the Serrano (Spanish for “mountain people”) Indians occupied Yahaviat (pine place) on the northern and southern faces of the San Bernardino Mountains, as far north as the flat desert bounded by the Tehachapi Mountains. Alongside rivers and streams, the Serrano lived in settlements of 10 to 20 dwellings. Their circular-shaped homes were usually made of willow frames covered in brush or tule reeds and tied with various fibers or rawhide. Several Serrano settlements, including Yucaipa and Cucamonga, have modern towns that bear their names. The Serrano used ritual, including songs and storytelling, to pass along knowledge necessary to maintain the Earth’s natural order. Skilled artisans, the Serrano were known for their delicate, ornate pottery and woven baskets. The Serrano traded with the Mojave to the east and the Gabrielino to the west for goods they could not produce themselves. The stable lives and traditions of the Serrano changed drastically around 1790, when they were drawn into the San Gabriel Mission. Hard labor and European diseases took their toll. By the early 20th century, a group of approximately 1,500 Serrano people had dwindled to 119. Today some Serrano descendants live on or near the San Manuel and Morongo Reservations.
Silverwood Lake was named for W. E. “Ted” Silverwood, a Riverside County resident. Silverwood’s support for the State Water Project—and his unceasing work for water and soil conservation—helped to bring water to southern California. Supplying water and power for California’s agriculture, cities and industry, the Water Project also provides flood control, recreation, and protection and enhancement of fish and wildlife. The lake waters begin in California’s upper Feather River Basin as rain or snowmelt. From the water storage facility at Lake Oroville, the water is released in regulated amounts, flowing down the Feather and Sacramento Rivers to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and into the 444-mile California Aqueduct. The water moves south to the foot of the Tehachapi Mountains. It enters Southern California on the south side of the Tehachapis, then splits into the west branch serving the Los Angeles Basin and Ventura County’s coastal areas, and the east branch, which serves the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties. In the Antelope Valley, the water level is pumped to a height of 3,480 feet above sea level, then downhill, under the Mojave River and Highway 173, and finally, it reaches Silverwood Lake. From the intake towers at the south end of Silverwood Lake, the water continues south, where it plunges 1,600 feet to spin the turbines that generate electricity. Some of the water goes to contracting agencies, while the rest flows on to Lake Perris, the southern terminus of the aqueduct.