NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Black Butte Lake
Black Butte Lake

Description: A 4,500 acre warm water fishing and boating destination at 450 feet elevation with 40 miles of shoreline close to Orland just off Interstate 5 south of Red Bluff and Redding.  Best known for crappie, but smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and sunfish also are present. Anglers in the know fish March-May and then go elsewhere. Lake levels fluctuate. Managed by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers. The lakeshore is open, with narry a tree except in the campgrounds. The campgrounds are extremely well done, with mostly level sites, fire pits, some upright BBQ grills and nice touches like lantern posts above the picnic tables. You'll also find a volleyball net, horseshoe pits and a workout area. The restrooms feature hot and cold running water and nice (free) showers. The boat launch is world-class, with a concrete pad and floating dock. For many this would probably not be a destination site, but it's nicely situated just off Int. 5 a few miles south of Red Bluff so it can function as a waypoint on the way to or from Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mt. Shasta, the Hat River area and the like. If you're heading east on Hwy. 32 toward Lassen, there's a seasonal farm stand on your right just outside Orland that is way too cheap and way too good. In season, the plum drippings will ruin a set of clothes if you're not paying attention. Since this site is managed by a federal agency, senior passes and other types of passes good at federal sites like national parks, national forests. etc. are good for a 50% discount on camping fees.

Location: From Interstate 5 take Hwy. 32 west from Orland and turn south on County Road 206 for the southern reaches, or north on Newville Road for the northern sections.

Nearest Town: Orland.

Camping: At Buckhorn Campground: 65 sites for tents or RV's to 35 feet. 1 group site for up to 80 people. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and restrooms with showers. At Orland Buttes Campground: 35 sites for tents or RV's to 35 feet. 1 group site for up to 60 people. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and restrooms with showers. Reservations accepted at 877-444-6777 or www.recreation.gov. Open year round.

Fishing: Warm water species as noted above.

Boating: Any. Rentals available.

Other: Swimming, picnicking and hiking.

Information: U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers. 530-865-4781.

Supplies: Black Butte Marina. 530-865-2665. Orland has anything you may need in the way of provisions.