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The south shore of Eagle Lake is approximately 16 miles north of Susanville and 105 miles north of Reno, NV. Visitors in the area driving A1 north will top a final rise and see the dramatic vista of the Eagle Lake Basin below, surrounded by mountains and highlighted by the dramatic aspect of the lake itself.
Geology and History
Eagle Lake is located at the juncture of four major geologic provinces. To the west and south is the Sierra Nevadas, a giant mountain range formed by tectonic uplifting along the edge of the continental plate. To the west and north are the Cascade Mountains, which run through California, Oregon, and Washington, and up into Canada. This mountain range is volcanic in origin, but is also a result of a clash between the Pacific and continental plates. Eagle Lake is located within the Great Basin and the semi-arid lands to it’s east are known as the Modoc Plateau. Long ago the area was inhabited by many different groups of Native Americans, including the Hat Creek, Mountain Maidu, Valley Maidu, Paiute, and Pit River, all of whom hunted and fished at Eagle Lake.
Eagle Lake was created by the melting of glaciers during the last ice age and is the second largest natural lake in California. It covers more than 22,000 acres and has over 100 miles of shoreline. The lake sits in a closed drainage basin with no outlet and only limited surface water flowing into it.
Aptly named, Eagle Lake is a great place to view golden & bald eagles nesting. The lake is also home to the unique Osprey Overlook, a ½ mile trail near Gallatin Beach that gives a chance to view osprey nests and flight up close. White pelicans, western grebes, great blue herons, and many diving ducks feed on fish in the lake. In early spring, Canada geese, mallards, pintails and other waterfowl are especially numerous. May to June and September through October are peak months for viewing shorebirds, waterfowl and osprey, though viewing is good through the summer. The months of April through September are the best months for viewing bald eagles.
Black Tail and Mule deer are also common throughout the area. Pronghorn antelope cross the northern and eastern sides of the basin, while various small mammals find homes there. Deer, coyotes, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and an occasional bear or mountain lion also roam the area.
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