Just 70 miles east of the Los Angeles traffic and smog lies an incredible camping destination, Lake Perris. This reservoir is the best-kept secret of the outdoor adventurer community. Whether you want to relax on a beach or hike and bike your way to amazing scenery, a short drive of just over an hour offers everything needed for an escape from urbanity.
Camping at Lake Perris
Lake Perris has two campgrounds to choose from and they definitely cater to different groups.
If you’re looking for a fun family trip, you’ll probably want to snag one of the 129 campsites at Bernasconi Beach on the north shore of the lake. The sites are set up for easy access to the beach and fun water activities.
The Lake Perris campground, on the other hand, offers the perfect place for a more quiet, relaxing stay. It’s where you want to go if a romantic getaway is more your speed. This south shore area is nestled in the hills amongst the trees. Even though there are 321 sites to choose from in this larger campsite, it still offers gorgeous views and a pristine environment to chill and reconnect with nature.
Whichever side of the lake you choose, be sure to reserve your spot quickly. Spots fill up fast between April and October. Both campsites can accommodate everything from RVs to tents, so whatever your camping style you’re sure to find exactly what you need. Reservations can be made online or by calling the park directly.
Activities at Lake Perris
Whether you want to splash around in the water, lazily sunbathe or hike some trails, Lake Perris can make your adventure dream come true.
Lake Swimming and Beach Fun
Bernasconi Beach is known for offering families and large groups the best beach life has to offer. There’s plenty of space to hit a volleyball or throw a frisbee on the sand. Lifeguards on duty keep watch when it’s time to cool off with a swim. Picnic tables and playgrounds make this a fantastic choice for families looking for a day of outdoor fun, all for a very modest entrance fee.
Boating and Fishing
If casting a line and waiting for a nibble is more your speed, than Lake Perris won’t disappoint. The reservoir has an excellent reputation amongst fishermen. Anglers have been known to catch a wide variety of fish that includes including bass, catfish, trout, and crappie.
Even if you don’t want to fish, you can still enjoy the waters of Lake Perris. Whether you bring your own or rent a boat at the marina, there are plenty of options available for a day on the lake. For those looking for a slightly smaller-scale water outing, kayaks, canoes and even pedal boats are available to rent as well.
Hiking and Biking Trails
Maybe you’re more interested in lacing up your hiking boots or hopping on your mountain bike. The short but popular Lake Perris State Recreation Area Trail rewards its travelers with stunning views of the surrounding area and plenty of opportunities to see native wildlife. The trail is challenging enough to keep you moving but rated easy so the kids can easily join the fun.
While hiking the trail it’s not unlikely you can see deer, coyotes and rabbits, and plenty of different bird species. Lake Perris is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, rabbits, and a variety of bird species. After your hike or bike ride, head back to the nature center in the Bernasconi Beach area to learn about the area wildlife and their habitat.
Night Sky Viewing
The sea of stars that splash across the night sky at Lake Perris is so beautiful the park regularly hosts stargazing events. Several areas are even designated as stargazing sites. However you spend the day, your nights camping at Lake Perris are certain to be beautiful and memorable.
What to Bring to Lake Perris
Camping, even at a designated recreational area like Lake Perris, can be a bit daunting for beginners. The good news is having the basic necessities alone will generally ensure you have a fun and successful trip. These items include:
Camping Gear: This can include anything from a weatherproof tent (practice putting it up before you go!) to coolers for food and beverages and portable, battery-powered lights. Don’t forget the camp chairs and marshmallows (or the lighter for the fire)!
Water Gear: OK, this may not be a necessity per se, but what’s the point of going to a lake if you’re not going to dive in? Be sure you have everything needed for safety, including goggles and floaties for the kids. Don’t forget life preservers if you’re bringing your kayak!
Clothing: Check the weather report, then pack for both that weather and the total opposite. Trust us, this is the only way to be truly prepared.
Food & Water: Part of the point of camping is there isn’t usually a quickie mart or restaurant nearby. Think in terms of storage when it comes to food: canned items like chili, deli meats (if you have a cooler), desserts, eggs or bacon, and consider how you’ll make morning coffee. Whatever you bring, don’t forget to also bring something to cook or prepare it in!
Sun Protection: You can never, ever have enough sunscreen. Believe us on this; you’ll thank us later. Remember to re-apply!
Tips for a Successful Trip to Lake Perris
Lake Perris is popular for a reason, and that means you can’t really visit on a whim. Reserve your campsite as far ahead of time as possible or you’ll risk missing out.
Check the Weather
Always stay up-to-date as possible on the weather. Pack for sun and rain (often in Southern California, both) and don’t forget to consider any excess wind, especially if you’re planning to sleep in a tent.
Respect the Wildlife
When it comes to wildlife, look but don’t interact with them. Do not feed wild animals or attempt to pet them and don’t alter their habit or environment.
Practice Water Safety
Swimming is fun, and a main point of going to the lake, but safety still comes first. Use life jackets, and goggles, and never, ever let the kids swim unsupervised.
Leave No Trace
A basic rule of thumb when enjoying the great outdoors is to leave it the way you found it. That means picking up your trash and not feeding the wildlife. Don’t uproot any vegetation and stay on your campground and designated trails.