Boating on Carson Pass Lakes

Amador County, Alpine County, California





The Best Boating Lakes on Carson Pass

Kayaker on a mountain lake

A number of lakes along Carson Pass offer boating. Only two - Lower Bear River Reservoir and Silver Lake - are open to all kinds of boating, including water skiing and wake boarding. Caples Lake and Blue Lakes have speed limits that make them best for fishing or kayaking. Resorts at Lower Bear River Reservoir, Silver Lake, and Caples Lake rent small fishing boats, kayaks, and canoes. Launch ramps are found at all the larger lakes.

map of boating lakes on Carson Pass, CA

Lower Bear River Reservoir

Fishing, water skiing, and boating are all popular at Lower Bear River Reservoir. Just 3 miles off Highway 88, 40 miles east of Jackson, the lake is to access for day outings or overnight stays. With an elevation of 5,800 feet it is free of snow long before other lakes farther up the pass.

Lake Facts: 727 surface acres, 9 mile shoreline
Activities: Fishing, water skiing, sailing, all types of boating
Launch Ramps: Improved launch ramps at dam and at resort marina, unimproved at Pardoes Point Campground
Lodging: 4 National Forest campgrounds, Bear River Lake Resort

Bear River Lake Resort

Bear River Lake Resort operates a marina at the lake with a launch ramp, gas, a store, and boat rentals.
Day Use Rates: (10:00 AM - 6:00 PM) Launch $10, Beach and Picnic Area $5   Bear River Lake Resort

Bear River Lake Boat Rentals
Boat Hour Half Day Full Day Overnight*
  *Overnight means return next day by 9:00 AM. Two night rates available. Prices subject to change. 
Fishing Boat with motor and gas $25 $75 $110 $110
Canoe $10 $30 $45 $65
Paddle Boat $15
Single Kayak $10
Double Kayak $13

Bear River Lake Marina Fees
Boat Size Daily weekly Monthly Monthly Double
  Prices subject to change. 
Standard Size Boat $12 $72 $115 $172
Extra Large Boat $22 $96 $135 $202.50

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Silver Lake

Silver Lake boating is mostly small motorized fishing boats, canoes, and kayaks. The lake rests at an elevation of 7,300 feet, 52 miles east of Jackson on Highway 88. Treasure Island near the southern end of the lake is a third of a mile long.

Silver Lake is operated by the El Dorado Irrigation District. They charge a day-use fee for their boat ramp and their day-use areas there, Sandy Cove and Ferguson Point. Day use fees are $10 per vehicle and $9 per boat launch (seniors $8 and $7). The same pass is also good at Caples Lake and Sly Park. To apply for an annual pass, see EID Annual Day Use Permit Application.

Lake Facts: 1.5 miles long, 385 surface acres, 5.5 mile shoreline
Activities: Fishing, sailing, boating
Launch Ramps: Launch ramps at either end of the lake
Lodging: 1 National Forest campground, 1 EID Campground, Plasse's Resort, Kit Carson Lodge

Kit Carson Lodge

Kit Carson Lodge at the north end of the lake rents small boats. They also have a beach and swimming area next to their dock. Kit Carson Lodge

Kit Carson Lodge Boat Rentals
Boat 1 Hour 2 Hours Additional Hours
  Prices subject to change. 
14' Motor Boat NA $40 $12
Canoe or Single Kayak $13 $10
Double Kayak $22 $13

Plasse's Resort

Plasse's Resort at the southern end of the lake rents small boats. Day-use parking is $10. Plasse's Resort

Plasse's Resort Boat Rentals
Boat 4 Hours All Day
  Prices subject to change. 
Canoe $40 $70
Single Kayak $30 $50
Double Kayak $40 $70
Stand-Up Paddleboard First hour $20 additional hours $10 each

Daily Weekly Monthly
  Prices subject to change. 
Boat Launch or Storage $10 $25 $65

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Caples Lake

Caples Lake boating is limited to 5 MPH, making it a good destination for small motorized fishing boats, canoes, and kayaks. The lake has an elevation of 7,800 feet and is 59 miles east of Jackson on Highway 88. Boaters should be cautious of rocks just below the surface near the resort, at the Woods Creek inlet, and other places near shore.

Caples Lake is operated by the El Dorado Irrigation District. They charge a day-use fee for the new boat ramp and the parking area on the east shore. Day use fees are $10 per vehicle and $10 per boat launch. The same pass is also good at Silver Lake and Sly Park. To apply for an annual pass, see EID Annual Day Use Permit Application.

Lake Facts: 2 miles long, 600 surface acres, 6 mile shoreline
Activities: Fishing, sailing, boating (no PWC, water skiing, or wakeboarding)
Launch Ramps: Launch ramp at Caples Lake Resort. New 2.5 million dollar facility on the east shore, operated by EID
Lodging: 1 National Forest campground, Caples Lake Resort

Caples Lake Resort

Caples Lake Resort, located right along the highway, has a store and marina where they rent small boats. No overnight parking is allowed at the marina. Complimentary launching and docking for resort guests. Caples Lake Resort

Caples Lake Resort Boat Rentals
Boat Seats 2 Hrs. 3 Hrs. 4 Hrs. 6 Hrs. 8 Hrs. Until 7pm
 *plus 1 child. Prices subject to change. 
12' Motorboat 3 $40 $55 $65 $85 $95 $110
14' Motorboat 4 $50 $65 $75 $95 $110 $130
Single Kayak 1 $20 $25 $30 $35 $40 $50
Double Kayak 2* $25 $30 $35 $40 $45 $50

Caples Lake Resort Boat and Parking Fees
Regular Seniors*
  *Seniors 65+. Prices subject to change. 
Season Launch Fee $150 $100
Day Parking with Trailer + Launch $15 $10
Day Parking + Car-top Boat Launch $10 $10
Day Parking $10 $10
Overnight Buoy Tie-up $10 $10

Boat Launch Hours: Weekends 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Weekdays 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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Blue Lakes

Lower and Upper Blue Lakes are found 12 miles south of Hope Valley at the end of Blue Lakes Road. They are at elevations of 8,000 feet and 8,100 feet and often are not accessible until July because of snow.

Lake Facts: Lower Blue Lake - 0.8 miles long, Upper Blue Lake - 0.9 miles long.
Activities: Fishing, boating (small fishing boats, kayaks, canoes)
Launch Ramps: Lower Blue Lake has an unimproved ramp; Upper Blue Lake has two ramps, one near the dam and the other at the campground on the north end of the lake.
Lodging: 4 PG&E campgrounds

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Other Carson Pass Lakes

A number of smaller lakes along Carson Pass are accessible for car-top launching of small, non-motorized craft. Among these lakes are Kirkwood Lake, Woods Lake, Red Lake, and Twin Lake. For more about Kirkwood Lake and Woods Lake, see Caples Lake Area Camping.

Twin Lake is one mile west of Lower Blue Lake on a rough gravel road. Again, car-top launched non-motorized boats can be used there.

Activities: Fishing, non-motorized boating
Lodging: Kirkwood Campground, Woods Lake Campground, Lower Blue Lake Campground

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