Camp Casitas

Camp, paddle, and play disc golf at Lake Casitas Recreation Area near Ventura

Group of friends taking a selfie on a boat on Lake Casitas in Ventura

Remember summer camp? Well, Lake Casitas Recreation Area, just 20 minutes from downtown Ventura, brings it all right back. It's got everything you need for an action-packed day or weekend outdoors: There’s a 5.75-mile shoreline hike, a rugged disc golf experience, and reservoir boat floats on the water. There’s also nearly 450 campsites across its massive grounds.

Young man posing for the camera on a boat at the dock at Lake Casitas near Ventura

Person playing disc golf at Coyote Point Disc Golf Course at Lake Casitas Recreation Area near Ventura

Friends playing disc golf at Coyote Point Disco Golf Course at Lake Casitas Recreation Area near Ventura

The lake is dammed and provides drinking water for the area and might be best known for its bass fishing (a reel good time) and the 1984 Olympics, where canoeing and rowing events took place. Today, the boat rental shop provides kayaks and shaded pontoons for some relaxing time on the water. There are motorboats too. If you’d rather stay on land, from the pier there’s a 2.85-mile trail (one-way) both paved and dirt that goes east and south with great views of the lake’s sole island, Main Island, whose peak reaches 500 feet above the water. If you’re on the water you’ll get up close to the resident waterfowl, from Canada geese to cormorants, coots, and grebes. Enjoy all the 1100 acres of water, but don’t get in; as a drinking-water supply, this is a no-body-contact lake.

Kayakers by the pier at Lake Casitas Recreation Area near Ventura

Canada Goose posing for the camera at Lake Casitas Recreation Area near Ventura

open water view of Lake Casitas near Ventura

After your float, it’s time to frolf! Head to the Coyote Point Disc Golf Course on the northwestern side of the lake. The 18-hole affair is one of the most technical in Southern California, and the first hole has you launching your pies hundreds of feet off a steep cliff (which you will have to hike down!). It’s as much an intense workout as it is a challenging course because you’re constantly ascending and descending.

Sign at Hole 4 at Coyote Point Disc Gold Course at Lake Casitas Recreation Area near Ventura

Person tossing a disc at Coyote Point Disc Golf Course at Lake Casitas Recreation Area near Ventura

Coyote Point Disc Golf Course overlooking Lake Casitas near Ventura

The views of the lake are incredible, especially at sunset—just make sure to keep your eyes on the chains when teeing off. If you want to continue enjoying the natural beauty, snag a reservation at one of the nearly 450 campsites (seriously!) that are scattered around the lake’s edge.

To get to the Lake Casitas Recreation Area entrance, take the US-101 to the CA-33 north towards Ojai. At the terminus of the CA-33, head west on the CA-150. After 3.2 miles, exit and turn left onto Santa Ana Rd., where you will immediately find the Lake Casitas Recreation Area entrance ($10 entry per vehicle, or make a campground reservation). Dog-friendly except on the water!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Drive-In Whale Watching

    Just north of Point Reyes, Bodega Head sits high on the tip of a curving, thumb-like peninsula and offers excellent whale watching in winter.

  2. Sponsored

    Top Dog Destination

    Redding is a pawsitively ideal destination for you and your four-legged pal. Surrounded by Shasta and Lassen and mountainous Whiskeytown, with year-round sunny days and the gleaming Sacramento River running right through it, Redding is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais into Muir Woods

    Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.

  4. Stay at Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park

    Stay in a modern yet rustic lodge with vaulted wood-beam ceilings, grand stone fireplaces, panoramic windows overlooking a snow-filled forest, and jagged mountain peaks all around. Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park has adventure trails leaving right from its lobby.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Point Dume Bloom!

    On this 2-mile loop hike in Mailibu's Point Dume Natural Preserve, you can find yourself walking through fields of brilliant yellow specimens—some of them chest high and taller—but also dip down to pristine beaches and tide pools, possibly crowning your visit with a gray-whale sighting.

  2. woman hiking Stornetta Public Lands

    Strolling Stornetta

    Big Sur has some competition. Located along the rugged Mendocino County coastline, the 1,665-acre Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands is a spectacular place to meander for miles along bluffs overlooking small coves, sea caves, dunes, and clusters of offshore islands.

  3. man snowshoeing Calaveras Big Trees

    Big Foot in the Big Trees

    When dinosaurs roamed the earth they shared space with giant sequoias, the biggest trees in the world. Get up close to these bold beauties on a docent-led snowshoe trek in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

  4. Urban Hike in LA County

    LA Discovery Walk

    Wide-open spaces, hidden art, local cuisine, unique wildlife: Take a cultural walk through the San Gabriel Valley on a 3-mile park-to-park discovery route, then go get some delicious craft beers.