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Lake Berryessa
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The Lake Berryessa Destination is characterized by Santa Rosa, Mendocino National Forest, and Lake Berryessa, all of which draw in a fair amount of tourism annually, in addition to being in close proximity to prominent cities of California including San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose, just outside the destination's borders. Santa Rosa, in particular, is most famously known for the legacy left by Charles M. Schulz, who wrote a popular comic known as Peanuts. This, in turn, caused a museum to be built in honor of Schulz and his comics, presenting programs, events, and exhibits that primarily focus on the characters of the Peanuts comic.[4] Tourists also tend to visit Mendocino National Forest, as many travelers hope to spend time outdoors while being in the area. Those who visit the national forest can also visit Santa Rosa or Sacramento, both of which are within a two-hour drive of Mendocino National Forest. The Lake Berryessa Wildlife Area additionally allows visitors to be outside and is also home to a variety of wildlife and several species of birds. Lake Berryessa itself dates back to 1963, the year it had been filled after the construction of the dam.[1]

What Lake Berryessa is known for

Located in the western region of the state of California, the Lake Berryessa Destination is situated along the coast. One of the most prominent cities that can be found within the destination is Santa Rosa. The namesake of the destination, Lake Berryessa, was named after Jose Jesus and Sexto Siso Berrelleza, the first European settlers to arrive in the Berryessa Valley, and the lake can be found in the heart of the destination, covering an expanse of nearly 20,000 acres, extending to about 16 miles in length.[1] One particularly unique aspect of the lake is what’s officially known as the ‘Morning Glory Spillway’ or the ‘Glory Hole,’ which functions as a spillway for Lake Berryessa and for Monticello Dam when water levels reach heights above 440 feet. In these circumstances of rising water levels, water will begin to spill down a hole that opens up in the lake, and the water spills into Putah Creek. Though the Glory Hole may not be used annually, according to an ABC News report, it “has been used two dozen times since it was first built in the 1950s.”[2]

Santa Rosa, a notable city in the Lake Berryessa Destination, is relatively known for Charles M. Schulz's influence on the city during the last half of his life, as Santa Rosa was his home during those years. Charles M. Schulz is the creator of a popular comic known as the Peanuts.[3] In honor of the life he lived, the city built the Charles M. Schulz Museum, which offers tours for visitors, showcasing the cast of characters from the Peanuts comics, as well as educating tourists on the historical significance of Schulz and the museum. Some of the featured areas of the museum include Snoopy’s Home Ice, the Warm Puppy Cafe, and Snoopy’s Gallery and Gift Shop.[4]

Mendocino National Forest typically draws in a number of visitors annually, especially those who take interest in outdoor recreational activities. A portion of the Forest is found within the northern part of the destination, and visitors may have the opportunity to engage in hiking, camping, boating, backpacking, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, photography, and off-highway vehicle travel. Nearly one million acres make up the national forest as it contains Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, Sanhedrin Wilderness, and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, to name a few. Mendocino National Forest is about a three-hour drive from north of San Francisco and Sacramento, two prominent cities in California.[5]


On average, 76 days per year receive some type of precipitation in Santa Rosa, California, with the coldest months being January and December. The average temperature during nighttime is 37.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the colder months of the year. Contrastingly, the hottest month of the year, August, has an average high of 84.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered to be cooler than other areas of California. Approximately 31.5 days of the year have temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, while nearly 22.4 days of the year have nighttime temperatures that drop below freezing. Decent temperatures are reported to typically occur in the months of October, June, and May. Humidity in Santa Rosa is relatively low; though, during the summer, humidity may become more excessive in June, July, and August.[6]

Aquatic features characterize the Lake Berryessa Destination, namely, Lake Sonoma, Clear Lake, Lake Berryessa, and Lake Mendocino, which are the most prominent lakes in the area, in addition to Lake Pillsbury, which can be found in the mountain range of Mendocino National Forest. The entirety of the western borders of the destination is encompassed by the Pacific Ocean.

One specific area in the Lake Berryessa Destination that contains a relatively large amount of wildlife and plant life is the Mendocino National Forest, home to various game species such as black tail deer, black bear, and bird species. Additionally, the northern spotted owl, summer steelhead, and salmon are a few of the federally listed threatened or endangered species of animals living in the area. As for flora, the area grows mixed conifer forests, chaparral, grass glades, wet meadows, and oak woodlands. The waters of Mendocino flow into the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, through the Eel River system westward, or through the Sacramento River system eastward.[5]

Lake Berryessa itself is surrounded by an environment that is home to an abundance of wildlife and a fair amount of species of birds such as white pelicans, western grebes, golden and bald eagles, cormorants, and various species of ducks. Nearly six miles of public access road can be found along the shoreline on the East Shore Ranch And Fire Access Road, which is where the majority of wildlife can be found in the Lake Berryessa Wildlife Area, located between the East Shore Ranch And Fire Access Road and the water. These lands can be explored by visitors and hikers, as there are trails leading to the shore from each entrance to the wildlife area.[7]


With the intent of creating the reservoir that is Lake Berryessa, the main town of Monticello was abandoned, and the start of the construction of the dam followed in 1953. The completion of the dam occurred in 1958, and the reservoir had been filled in 1963, becoming the second-largest reservoir in California at the time, second to Shasta Lake. Lake Berryessa and the Monticello Dam, plus Putah Diversion Dam with Lake Solano, as well as associated water distribution systems are all collectively known as the Solano Project, unique from other water projects in California. This project was opposed by Monticello residents; though despite their best efforts, it was unsuccessful and it caused the residents to permanently leave their homes.[1]

Santa Rosa, located in the southern region of the Berryessa Destination, derives its name from Saint Rosa of Lima, and is Spanish for “Saint Rose.” The city was founded in 1833; however, prior to the arrival of the Europeans, a relatively high population of Pomo natives, known as the Bitakomtara, inhabited the area. Though there were many natives living there, the population still remained small until the year 1870 when railroad services had begun. By the 2000s, the population had become “the largest in Sonoma County” and “the fifth most populous city in the Bay Area” with a population of 147,532 residents, which had grown from 6,673 residents since the 1900s.[3]

A relatively large portion of Sonoma County is located in the southern area of the Berryessa Destination. The earliest settlers of the land date back to 5000 BC and 8000 BC, which were the Pomo, Coast Miwok, and Wappo tribes. Timber, fur, and farmlands were the three main elements that would draw in Russians, Spaniards, and other Europeans from the late 16th to the mid-19th century. In 1850, when California had officially become a state, Sonoma County was one of the original counties of the land. About 458,878 residents made up the population in 2000 among the counties' cities including Cloverdale, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Sonoma, and the town of Windsor.[3]

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