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Sonoma County - Camping at Lake Sonoma

Updated on July 29, 2013

Fishing and Camping at Lake Sonoma - And More!

Lake Sonoma has it all: boat-in campgrounds, drive-in campgrounds, RV friendly sites, playgrounds, a huge recreation area available by arrangement for private parties, launch sites for boaters, a marina for long term docking, hiking trails, many day use areas, areas for those who ride horses, and even a dog run. At the top of the mountain lies the drive-in campground known as Liberty Glen, with phenomenal views of the valley. It's a lovely place to build a fire, roast marshmellows, and have a great time for the weekend. For the hunters out there, there is hunting on public land at Lake Sonoma during certain times of year. One of these kinds of hunts is the bow hunt (as in bow and arrow) on pigs. That's good eating - if you can get it! Fishermen also enjoy this lake but most fish will be caught by boat and not from shore in these waters.

Campsite by day.
Campsite by day. | Source
While not too windy, the road can be steep at times. RVers beware.
While not too windy, the road can be steep at times. RVers beware. | Source
Modern flush toilets and unlimited hot showers at camp.
Modern flush toilets and unlimited hot showers at camp. | Source
Morning visitors to the campground.
Morning visitors to the campground. | Source

Liberty Glen Campground - Above Lake Sonoma

A drive to the drive-in campground at the Lake Sonoma Recreation Area, managed by the Army Corp., will take travelers about twenty minutes from the entrance of the initial park area to the peak of the mountain. The Liberty Glen Campground is amazingly affordable, at a current rate of $15 a night, with working bathrooms, non-coin operated showers and running potable water located off Loop C. Formerly a campground where one had to truck their own water in, this new improvement has resulted in a surge of campers frequenting the site. The center of the Liberty Glen Campground also has a large playground for the children.

Boat-In Campgrounds at Lake Sonoma

Boats are available to rent for a weekend, from a private vendor, and will run visitors between $200-500 for a vessel, depending upon the size of it. The boat-in camping, however, is not arranged through the vendor based at the Marina and must be done through the Army Corp, either at the entrance to the park or by contacting them ahead of time. The separate costs of boat rental, boat launch fees, and camping fees can make for a heftier price tag on this type of camping experience. However, anglers may find the cost worth it as they wrangle the likes of trout, bass, catfish, and sunfish. Generally, springtime is the best time for fishing these waters but many have luck in the early summer months or in the cooler summers also.

Those with their own boats will enjoy boat-in campgrounds for approximately $20 a night with a boat launch fee of $3.

Fishing Limits at Lake Sonoma

Fish Type
Open When?
all year
all year
5 (12 inches or more)
all year
all year
Lake Sonoma Marina from the mountaintop.
Lake Sonoma Marina from the mountaintop. | Source

Native People of Lake Sonoma

An annual event known as the "Big Time" is held at the Lake Sonoma Recreation Area. Visitors who are interested may accidentally leave, though, because they often can't find the pow-wow! This pow-wow is located in a place you cannot see from any parking location, though signs are posted all over. Therefore, park across the street from the Visitor's Center in the picnic parking lot and walk directly past the volleyball play area, past all the covered picnic areas and keep going! If you listen closely, you will hear the drums in the distance. Follow that sound. That's where the pow-wow is! There is a trail located directly behind the picnic areas leading you to the pow-wow. Many visitors take the shuttle bus from the RiverRock Casino, which is allowed special permission to access a road usually reserved for authorized personnel. This shuttle bus will take you directly to the pow-wow. The leaders of the pow-wow are of the Pomo Indians. Travelers will learn about the Pomo culture and dances, enjoy dining choices and beaded jewelry, among other items for sale. The dance itself is free to visit.

Fish Hatchery at Lake Sonoma

Right inside the office of the Army Corp, to the right as you drive into the Lake Sonoma Recreation Area, is the Visitor's Center and Fish Hatchery (with ample parking, even for RVers). Here, visitors can take thirty minutes for a free tour of the hatchery where Soho Salmon, Steelhead Trout, and Chinook Salmon. Each year, the Army Corp. works in conjunction with area high school students, who take time to raise different fish types and have a special event to release them. Regular visitors will see maturing fish in tanks at different ages and stages. Visitors are offered an opportunity to feed the fish. Throw a handful of fish food and you will see the trout jump straight out of the water for them!

Need Help Selecting Camping Tent?

Here is an article that covers what kind of tent to take camping with you.

Pomo dancers in cultural attire.
Pomo dancers in cultural attire. | Source

At the Fish Hatchery

Learning about Army Corp. duties.
Learning about Army Corp. duties. | Source
A child's area labelled "Touch Me!"
A child's area labelled "Touch Me!" | Source
Reading about the hatchery.
Reading about the hatchery. | Source
Steelhead Trout
Steelhead Trout | Source
Feeding the hatchery fish.
Feeding the hatchery fish. | Source

Hiking at Lake Sonoma

There are multitude of trails, from easy to difficult, throughout the park. Learn more about these trails at the Visitor's Center. However, there is an easy trail most children can do, in a flat loop that goes around the Visitor's Center. Bring water on hot days. There are plenty of birds and wildlife available in the morning hours. We saw deer, wild rabbits, and mallard ducks on our visit there.

Lake Sonoma - A Little Something For Everyone

Even if none of the amenities mentioned is a fit for a visitor, travelers may enjoy camping at Liberty Glen as an extremely inexpensive alternative to the bed and breakfasts or hotels, averaging $100-200 a night in the area. Since Lake Sonoma is in a location surrounded by vineyards, many vintners open their grape farms to tourists, offering wine tastings throughout the region. The downtown area of the nearby town of Healdsburg, California also has many wine tastings available on the weekend and has a walkable town with many dining options. Other attractions in the small town include a museum, galleries, and a bookstore. The town has a central park with sometimes offers free music concerts, too.

More Near Lake Sonoma

Here are some other attractions to consider when visiting this area (within an hour drive of Lake Sonoma):

For The Hunters! Hunting at Lake Sonoma - The Pig Hunt! (Warning: Pig is Killed in This Video)

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