Lake Berryessa is less than 45 minutes from the Napa Valley in the eastern part of Napa County. Prior to 1957, the lake was Monticello Valley and the town of Monticello. When Monticello Dam was completed, the lake started filling. Today it is one of the largest manmade lakes in California, 25 miles long, 3 miles wide and 275 feet deep at its deepest point, with 168 miles of shoreline.
A wide variety of fish can be found in the lake, including bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, bluegill, crappe and catfish. Campgrounds and picnic areas are abundant. Here's a map showing the major developed recreation areas at Berryessa.
Prior to its inundation, the Berryessa Valley was an agricultural region, whose soils were considered among the finest in the country. The main town in the valley, Monticello, was abandoned in order to construct the reservoir. This abandonment was chronicled by the photographers Dorothea Lange and Pirkle Jones in their book Death of a Valley. Construction of Monticello Dam was begun in 1953, and the reservoir filled by 1963, creating what at the time was the second-largest reservoir in California after Shasta Lake.
The lake is heavily used for recreational purposes camping, boating, houseboats, Resorts and a few Restaurants are available. It encompasses over 20,000 surface acres when full. The reservoir is approximately 25 miles long, but only 3 miles wide. It has approximately 165 miles of shoreline and there is Lake Berryessa real estate available. It has a seaplane landing area that is open to the public. One of the larger islands supported a small plane landing area, but was closed down in the early 1970s after the FAA issued a safety report.
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