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Welcome to Lake Kaweah

Lake Kaweah was formed by the construction of Terminus Dam on the Kaweah River in 1962 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood damage reduction and water conservation. While the lake provides a multitude of activities for visitors, the water retained in the reservoir is 100 percent agricultural water for California’s south central valley – well known for its agricultural production.

Terminus Dam was originally constructed as an earthen dam and was later expanded on utilizing 21-foot-tall fusegates, the largest in the country. The addition of the fusegates allows for an additional 43,000 acre feet of water storage as well as providing additional flood control. The fusegates are visible from the Lemon Hill Recreation Area, and dam tours can be scheduled by contacting the park headquarters. During the spring run-off season Lake Kaweah can store a total of 185,630 acre feet of water. Energy production was added in 1990 with the construction of the Terminus Power Plant. The hydroelectric plant produces an average of 40 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is equivalent to 67,000 barrels of oil.

The lake is located only a few miles outside of the Sequoia National Park gates on highway 198 making it a popular day use location for travelers who are looking to stretch their legs, have a picnic, or find out more about the area. The Visitor Center at the Lemon Hill Recreation Area is a great place to gather information on both the lake and the national park, and you will also find the Sequoia Parks Conservancy gift shop inside. Also located in the Visitor Center is the Tulare County Boat Patrol office for any state or county regulation questions.

Lake Kaweah has many attractions, such as their campfire programs that take place during the summer season for the campers of Horse Creek Campground. The large surface-area of the reservoir makes it popular for boating activities, and the river feeding the reservoir in the Slick Rock Recreation area is perfect for wildlife viewing in the Spring and Fall seasons.

Location:

Lake Kaweah sits in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills, 20 miles east of Visalia, and 8 miles west of the Sequoia National Park Gate on Highway 198.

Mailing Address:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Lake Kaweah/Terminus Dam

P.O. Box 44270

Lemon Cove, CA 93244-4270

Contact Information:

Visitor Center: 559-597-2005

Office: 559-597-2301

FAX 559-597-2468

E-mail: kaweah-info@usace.army.mil

Office Hours: (subject to change)

Monday - Friday 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Saturday – Sunday 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Lemon Hill Visitor Center Hours:

Monday - Friday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Directions:

From Visalia, follow Highway 198 east toward the park.

Useful Links:

Every Kid in a Park: 4th graders can get free parks access.

Bobber the Water Safety Dog: Information on water safety for children.

Operation Dry Water: Learn about the dangers of BUI - Boating Under the Influence of alcohol.

National Water Safety Program: Information that could help save your life or the life of someone you care about.

Camping Reservations

link to recreation.gov

 

Recreation at Lake Kaweah

Day Use:

Picnicking can be enjoyed at all accessible areas of the park. Lemon Hill, Kaweah, Slick Rock and Horse Creek recreation areas have tables and potable water. Swimming is permitted at your own risk around the lake but is prohibited at posted areas near the marina, boat ramps and the dam's intake structure. 

Camping:

Some Lake Kaweah campgrounds are flooded during parts of the year when the lake level is high, so please call the park office to confirm availability. Horse Creek Campground has 80 campsites, restrooms with flush toilets, showers, and a trailer dump station. Campsites are equipped with tables and fire rings.

Fire restrictions vary by recreation area throughout the year, so please confirm current guidelines with park staff before building fires. Eight people are permitted per campsite and there is a 14-day limit per 30-day period.

Campfire programs are presented at the Horse Creek Amphitheater on Saturday nights from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

To reserve a site, visit RECREATION.GOV or call 1-877-444-6777.

Events:

Please call Park Headquarters as events are subject to change.

- Campfire Programs: Every Saturday Evening at 7pm, Horse Creek campground, beginning June through late August. Programs vary in content from fire safety, to reptiles, to astronomy!

- National Public Lands Day: Last Saturday of September, Annually. Join us during this nationwide event to pay tribute to our public lands by cleaning, maintaining, and improving facilities and plants while enjoying company, good food, exhibits, and live local music.

- Dark Sky Festival: the First weekend of August at Sequoia National Park. A three-day long event hosted by Sequoia Parks Conservancy. Many partners and exhibitors join together to discuss and celebrate important astronomical happenings.

- Regional Fairs: Porterville Fair in May; Tulare Fair in September; Fresno Fair in October. Lake Kaweah is active at almost all local fairs and festivals, presenting ranger-led exhibits as well as educational and entertaining events for the public relating to water safety and Natural Resources in the area.

 

Boating:

The lake offers a variety of opportunities for water-skiing, sailing, and pleasure boating. Launch ramps are located in the Kaweah, Lemon Hill and Slick Rock recreation areas.

The Lake Kaweah Marina at Lemon Hill offers boating and camping supplies, fishing tackle, a snack bar, boat rentals and fuel. Call 559-597-2526 for marina information.

For information about boating registration and operating regulations, contact the Tulare County Boat Patrol Office at 559-597-2437.

Fishing:

Lake Kaweah offers both lake and stream fishing. Largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and rainbow trout are the most common. Bass, limit 2, must be a minimum of 15" long before they can be kept by the angler. Fishing licenses and supplies can be purchased in nearby towns.

Fees:

 

The Corps of Engineers participates in the America the Beautiful-Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series. The series includes the; Annual Pass, Annual 4th Grade Pass, Annual Senior Pass, Lifetime Senior Pass, Lifetime Access Pass, Volunteer Pass, and Military Pass. Be sure to pick up your America the Beautiful pass at any of our Corps parks as the money is directly invested back into the facilities to improve your recreational experience. Get more details about the pass series here http://1.usa.gov/1T6TRMt.

The Annual Pass is a onetime purchase of $80. You will have access to all of your favorite Corps parks, and participating federal agencies public lands. The Annual Pass is good for one year from the date of purchase.

Individuals 62 years and older have the choice of purchasing an Annual Senior Pass for $20 which is good for one year from the date of purchase, or a Lifetime Senior Pass for $80, which does not expire. Senior and Access Pass holders also receive a 50 percent discount on campsites at Corps-managed campgrounds.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also sells their Corps Annual Pass for $40. The Corps Annual Pass gives unlimited access to day-use areas at any Corps park for one calendar year at the date of purchase.

 

 Camping Day Use

Annual Pass

$20 $5 $40

HISTORICAL INFORMATION:

Lake Kaweah is fed by the Kaweah River, which originates in the Sierra Nevada at Sequoia National Park. The three smaller forks of the river join together forming the larger Kaweah River a few miles upstream in the town of Three Rivers. Long ago many Native Americans occupied this area; the Yokuts, Wukchumne, and Kaweah people lived and hunted along this river. Spaniards were the first Europeans to explore this area two centuries ago. Settlers arrived fifty years later in the Three Rivers area. Cattleman Hale Tharp started a ranch at the confluence of the Kaweah River and Horse Creek in 1856. He lived there until his death in 1912. Several landmarks still bear his name. During Tharp’s stay, the Three Rivers area became an idealistic settlement of ranchers, farmers, miners and traders. When the water in the reservoir lowers, a number of foundations of former homes from this time are visible. The development of the national park brought tourists and fortune to the town and has since grown into the town we see today.

Kaweah Views

Graffiti removal
KEEPING THINGS CLEAN
Volunteers work to remove graffiti at Cobble Knoll Recreation Area at Lake Kaweah during National Public Lands Day. (U.S. Army photo by Bill Spring / Released)
Postcard from the ladies
PITCHING IN
A group of volunteers goes on litter patrol at Horse Creek Campground of Lake Kaweah during National Public Lands Day.
Owl visits wildlife presentation
KING OF SILENT FLIGHT
This beautiful owl, shown by Louise Culver of Critter Creek Wildlife Station, highlighted a special presentation at Lake Kaweah.
Houseboats on Lake Kaweah
HOUSEBOATS ON KAWEAH
Houseboating is popular on lovely Lake Kaweah.
Spilling into the spillway
OVERFLOW GATES
Futuristic-looking fusegates help safely maintain water levels at Terminus Dam on Lake Kaweah.
TERMINUS DAM
Lake Kaweah and Terminus Dam
A hilltop view shows Terminus Dam at Lake Kaweah.

Conservation

   

 

image - one less spark, one less fire
image - Lake Kaweah water level today