The Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort was the perfect place for my family to stop on our way to Oregon, but it's worthy of a long weekend trip in it's own right. It's a four and a half-hour drive from Berkeley right off CA-5.
Don't get confused by the word “resort” in the name. Lake Siskiyou is a resort because it includes more than lodging: a restaurant, a general store, and a lakefront with activities. The views are glorious, but the accommodations are bare bones. It's similar to a bigger KOA campground with campsite tents, park RVs, basic cabins, or mobile homes to sleep in.
Tent sites are as cheap as $20 per night. We splurged on the best cabin right on the lake for about $150/night. And there are options in between. Our cabin included a bedroom for parents and a tiny loft with mats for kids; a kitchenette; an attached deck perfect for lakeside eating; and a s'mores-worthy fire pit.
Walking out of our cabin to scramble over rocks, throw them into the lake, and look at Mount Shasta looming above provided me with those magical sleepaway camp feelings you rarely get as an adult.
Highlights and amenities
The rope swing right in front of our cabin was both a highlight and a hazard, but the scraped knee was worth it, confirms Scarlett, as six months later, she remembers only the fun and not the pain.
The lake has inflatable jumpy things in it, like Pump It Up, set atop freezing cold water. Pay a few dollars for an hour's access to the inflatables. Paddle boards, row boats and other aquatic things can be rented at the waterfront.
A kids' movie is projected into this screen-housing shed for those seated on the benches after dark each night.
The onsite restaurant, Lake Sis Grille, was kid-friendly, totally mediocre, and dead empty, but does have a life-sized, talking tree in the middle of it. It reminded me of a ski resort restaurant, at one of the less fancy mountains.
The general store (with an ice cream bar) will fill your needs for milk, pasta, and marshmallows. It's very close to the cute town of Mount Shasta, CA if you seek something more substantial or gourmet.
If you like to fish or mountain bike, you should bring along your equipment. My husband went for a run around the lake with our son biking by his side. The length of that trail is about seven miles. More mountain biking and hiking are available at nearby Mount Shasta, although I did not find any suitable options for kids under 6.
The bottom line
I definitely recommend Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort as a low-key, budget-friendly destination for a long weekend from the Bay Area or a stop over on a road trip to Ashland, OR or points beyond. It offers the great outdoors with the comforts of home. If your idea of vacation involves backpacking-style isolation, this is not the spot for you; it's full of cars and people. While the top end cabins are far more expensive than regular camping, it is far cheaper than a modern family resort like the ones that we've loved in Scottsdale, AZ or Sunriver, OR.