A Sacramento Valley town near wildlife, lakes, and rugged wilderness.
Between Sacramento and Redding, Willows was once a watering hole for cattle farmers. Today, it’s still an agricultural hub, with services for travelers along Interstate 5 and access to several nearby lakes and reservoirs for water recreation. Willows camping options include RV parks, campsites in Mendocino National Forest prime for hiking, and tent sites at additional nearby recreation areas, lakes, and forests.
West of Willows, the Stony Gorge Reservoir offers fishing, boating, swimming, and camping, while Black Butte Lake is known for fishing and two US Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. For easy access to the Sacramento River and boat-in camping (plus tent and RV camping), head to the Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area. South of Willows, the Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area is home to fishing, wildlife viewing, and one campground.
East of Willows, Lake Oroville is the largest reservoir in Northern California with numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors, including boating, sailing, swimming, water sports, and lake fishing, along with surrounding trails. More than 20 campgrounds circle the lake, including tent, RV, and equestrian sites, boat-in campsites, and floating campsites.
Head west to the Mendocino National Forest for rugged and wild adventures, with hundreds of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, or off-roading, with a choice of developed and primitive camps. Several campgrounds can be found near water, including on Plaskett Lakes, Letts Lake, Mill Creek, and Bear Creek. For solitude, head into the backcountry in the Snow Mountain Wilderness.
Summer is the best time for water and outdoor recreation around Willows, including at Lake Oroville. It’s also the most popular time for camping. Shad fishing in the Sacramento River is best in the Sacramento River in June, while salmon fishing starts in August. Many campgrounds in the Mendocino National Forest are also seasonal. The waterfowl hunting season in the Sacramento NWR Complex runs from October to January.