The water is clear and inviting and the campsites are open and peaceful at Wolf Creek Campground in Northern California. Owned and operated by SMUD, Union Valley Reservoir provides power to residents in the Sacramento area. The reservoir is surrounded by the Eldorado national Forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Several federal campsites sit along the manmade lake including Wolf Creek Campground.
There’s not an exact address for Wolf Creek Campground which can make getting there a little tricky. The listing on ReserveAmerica.com gives latitude and longitude coordinates of 38°52'59"N, 120°24'0"W as the location. You can enter this into an online map to get directions from your location.
It's about an hour and half to two hour drive from Sacramento to Wolf Creek Campground. Take Highway 50 east. Once you start seeing the signs for Apple Hill and just passed Pollock Pines, be on the lookout for Icehouse Road. Make a left on Icehouse Road, but do so cautiously as cars coming around the bend ahead do so at a high rate of speed. Most of the road to the campsite is paved and it’s a winding road. The last mile or two is a dirt road and rather bumpy.
There are few campsites set near the lake and away from the main road, making this a quiet and peaceful campground. Campsites are large and most have lots of space for kids to play. Several of the campsites are just a few feet from the lake where you can set up your own private beach area. A few are higher on the hill and overlook the water giving campers a spectacular view. Some are designated as family campsites and have double the space for cars, camping trailers, and two picnic tables.
If you have a canoe or row boat, you can launch from any spot along the lake and near your campsite.
Facilities and Amenities
Since this a federal campground, you do not get the upgraded amenities that most California State Parks campgrounds offer. There are no showers or flush toilets. When the campground is full, the few vault toilets available will often have a line. Some spots are big enough for RVs but there are no hookups. Drinking water is available and each campsite has the typical picnic table, fire pit, and bear bin.
Things to Do in Wolf Creek Campground
Inside the campground the main activity is the lake. There are several nice spots along the lake where you can set up for the day and swim or let the kids play with sand toys and be only steps away from your campsite and a vault toilet. The sand is not the same as at a regular beach, but you can find areas with enough to keep the kids happy. The water is warm in the warmer summer months and shallow along the banks. There’s also plenty of fish in the lake to catch including kokanee salmon, trout, mackinaw, and bass.
There is also a bike trail that runs through several of the campgrounds along the lake.
Things to Do Nearby
On the way to Wolf Creek Campground you will see small store and café along Icehouse Road. There is also lots of hiking, waterfalls, and geocaching in the area. Bring your GPS unit.
Union Valley Reservoir Camping Reservations
You can look up campsite availability at ReserveAmerica.com, but will be redirected to Recreation.gov to make a reservation at any Union Valley Reservoir campground, including Wolf Creek.
Dogs are allowed in the campground and must be kept on a leash and supervised at all times. There is a $1 a day charge per pet that the campground host will collect. Since the banks near the campsites are not an official beach, you can take your dog down to the water as well. This Northern California campground is one of the best for dogs as other than the standard leash and supervision rules, there are few limitations placed on dogs.
Union Valley Reservoir camping may include a bear visit. Do keep all food, soaps, toothpaste, lotions, etc locked up in the bear bins available at each site. Bears are not as regular of visitors at these campgrounds like they are at campsites closer to Lake Tahoe, but they will certainly take advantage of an easy meal provided by camping coolers left out.