rancheria falls
California,  United States

The Ultimate Guide to Shaver Lake (2023)

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Are you visiting Shaver Lake? I’ve covered everything you need to know for your trip.

Shaver Lake is nestled in the Sierra Nevadas, just a quick drive from Fresno, California. Like any alpine lake, the water is crisp and blue, with stunning views.

As a Fresno local and frequent visitor, I know firsthand the best things to do in Shaver Lake.

What makes Shaver special is its proximity to so many fun activities and its accessibility year-round.

In the winter, you can ski or snowboard at a nearby resort. In the summer, enjoy swimming in the lake or take a hike on one of the many trails in the area.

During any season, explore the quaint shops and restaurants in town or take a short drive to visit nearby attractions like hot springs and caves. Whatever you’re looking for in an outdoor adventure, Shaver has it.

Read on for the top things to do in Shaver Lake!

Shaver Lake Things to Do

Getting out on the water tops all other Shaver Lake activities. However, there are tons of other things to do near Shaver Lake in addition to swimming and boating.

1. Boating Shaver Lake

There are various places to rent boats and equipment, but only one place has it all. Shaver Lake Marina is the go-to place for rentals right on the lake, from boats and jet skis to paddleboards and kayaks.

Their full-service marina is located right on the lake, so there is no need to figure out transporting the equipment to the water. Whether you are looking to rent a pontoon for a day, or a fishing boat for the week, they have exactly what you need.

All their boats come stocked with life jackets and other basic supplies so you can get out on the water quickly. The marina is in season from May through September, weather dependent.

2. Shaver Stables Horseback Riding

Seeing Shaver via saddle has been my favorite way to explore the lake.

Shaver Stables is locally owned and takes excellent care of their horses. Plus, their guides are friendly and knowledgeable.

Trail rides can also be tailored to your party and riding experience. From short hour-long rides for kids and novices to longer day private trips to see more of the lake, there is something for anyone.

No matter your ride, the trails around the lake are delightful and scenic. Shaver Stables is in season from May through September, weather dependent.

3. China Peak Mountain Resort

China Peak Mountain Resort is 18 miles up the road from Shaver Lake.

It is a great place to go skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. The resort offers trails for all skill levels, including adaptive athletes, and various packages for learning to ski or snowboard.

The terrain is varied and includes bunny slopes, groomed runs, and a few backcountry powder stashes. China Peak also has a variety of amenities like a restaurant, rental shop, and lodge.

Whatever the season, be sure to ride the chair to the top of the mountain for epic views and a fun time.

4. Shaver Lake Hikes

The Shaver Lake Trail is one of the easiest trails to get to the water without a watersport rental. I often find it quieter than other areas of the lake because it is on the opposite side of the marina.

Another easy trail to help you get familiar with the lake is the paved Shaver Lakeview Trail. Get stunning views and end your walk with a dip in the lake.

Rancheria Falls is one of my favorite family-friendly hikes. The parking and path are easy, there is a restroom at the trailhead, and the views are great. In the fall, you can get really close to the waterfall as the water flow isn’t as strong.

5. Fishing Shaver Lake

The Shaver area is a prime spot for fishing. It has a variety of trout, bass, salmon, catfish, crappies, and carp.

Before you grab your tackle box and fishing pole, you must get your fishing license. Even if you plan to “catch and release,” you still need a fishing license. 

Shaver Lake Sports has you covered – speak to someone at the register. You will need your driver’s license to purchase. A note: You always need to have your fishing license on you. The penalty for not having one on you while fishing is very high, anywhere from $500-$1000, while the license for a year costs you about $55.

6. McKinley Grove Giant Sequoias

The McKinley Grove is another short drive from Shaver that is well worth a visit.

Walk among giant sequoias in one of the few groves that grow naturally outside of Sequoia National Park.

McKinley Grove Sequoia Tree

I wouldn’t call the actual grove a hike, but there are plenty of nearby trails. There is also a nice picnic area, so be sure to bring lunch to dine under the sequoias.

7. Museum of the Sierra

If you have a weekend to spend in Shaver, the Museum of the Sierra is worth a visit.

The museum features exhibits and collections that showcase the history of the Sierra Nevada mountains, including its mining, logging, and ranching industries. You’ll also find artifacts related to indigenous cultures and stories about early settlers in the area.

Plus, it’s located right on the road to the marina, so you might as well pop in for a visit.

8. Mono Hot Springs

Shaver also works as a great base for visiting other destinations in the nearby Sierras. Plus, the further into the mountains you go, the fewer crowds you will find.

The Mono Hot Springs are just 90 minutes from Shaver. It’s the perfect spot to relax and take in nature. Swim in the river, which is easy to access, then warm up in a variety of naturally occurring hot springs.

Another amazing thing about Mono Hot Springs is that you don’t need any special equipment or permits to visit. Once you get there, you can walk along the trails and soak in the hot springs for hours.

Mono is only accessible when Kaiser Pass is open, typically from late June through September.

Where to Eat

Did you know there are only seven restaurants in Shaver Lake?

I never leave Shaver without getting some delicious monkey bread (aka chunky bread.) Soft, sticky, cinnamony sweet rolls are baked into the perfect pull-apart loaf. Shaver monkey bread is really the only thing that will satisfy after a long day of hiking or swimming. Find it at Shaver Lake Coffe & Deli or across the street at Bob’s Market.

If you are looking for a meal, another area staple is Shaver Lake Pizza. Made fresh to order in the heart of the cute mountain town, I also stop here regularly for the convenience and deliciousness.

Another local favorite is Hungry Hut. It is the most popular spot to stop at for fries and a shake after a day on the slopes up at China.

Here are all seven Shaver Lake restaurants ranked!

Shaver Lake Map

Where to Stay

From a cozy cottage to a KOA campsite, or a luxury cabin with room for extended family, Shaver has a variety of accommodations to choose from.

Shaver Lake Hotels

Amazingly, Shaver only has one hotel, the Shaver Lake Village Hotel.

Because it is home to so many summer homes and short-term rentals, hotels are the least popular place to stay.

The Village Hotel offers a convenient location, basic amenities, and available hotel staff on the property.

Camping Shaver Lake

Camping is the most affordable way to stay at Shaver Lake. With options such as tent camping, cabin rental, and RV rentals available, campers of all budgets can find a comfortable way to explore.

Just make sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time, especially in the summer. Camp Edison and Dorabelle Campground are the most popular options offering the most amenities with proximity to the lake.

Shaver Lake Rentals

Airbnbs and privately owned cabins are popular places to stay in the Shaver area. There are several that have a wonderful view of the lake.

Whether you want to relax by a campfire or explore the trails, these properties offer something for everyone. Plus, they provide amenities like hot tubs and game rooms to make your stay extra special.

There are many different sizes and types of cabins available so you can find one that’s just right for your family.

Shaver Lake Weather

Shaver Lake weather is great for camping and outdoor activities at any time of year.

In the summer it is a welcome retreat from the nearby Central Valley heat. The temperature averages in the high 70s during the summer months and rarely goes above 90 degrees.

Light jackets are necessary in the evening, but the weather can be nice enough for shorts and shirts during the day.

In the winter, you can expect temperatures to be much cooler. Snowfall is typical and can start in September and go through May.

The average snowfall is 7 inches. Snow boots and tire chains are often required to get around in the winter.

Shaver Lake in the fall

The weather in the fall is mild and pleasant. During the day, temperatures are usually in the 60s and 70s, with nights cooling off to the 40s. It’s a great time of year to explore the area and see some of the prettiest fall colors.

Directions to Shaver Lake

To get to Shaver from Fresno, you must drive approximately 60 miles east. It is a one-hour drive.

There are two routes from Fresno that both converge. You can start up north on Auberry Road, or you can start further south on the 168. Both roads will converge into the 168 in Prather.

From there, you follow the 168 which goes right through downtown.

There is no way to drive through the Sierra Nevadas from the east. You have to approach from Fresno on the west side.


Can you swim at Shaver Lake?

Yes, Shaver Lake is an excellent place to swim in the summertime. The water is cold but feels nice to escape the Central Valley heat. You can also enjoy the water via boat or kayak rentals.

What kind of fish are in Shaver Lake?

There are a variety of trout, bass, salmon, catfish, crappies, and carp in Shaver Lake.

What town is Shaver Lake in?

Shaver Lake is located in the census-designated town of Shaver Lake, California in Fresno County. It is 30 miles from the city of Fresno.

What elevation is Shaver Lake?

Shaver Lake is at an elevation of 5500 feet above sea level in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Is Shaver Lake worth visiting?

Yes! Shaver Lake is definitely worth visiting. It’s a beautiful mountain lake with plenty to offer no matter the time of year. From amazing hikes and swimming opportunities in the summer to skiing and snow play in the winter – there really is something for everyone.

That sums up my favorite things to do in Shaver Lake. It’s an amazing place to relax and take in nature’s beauty. Whether it’s for a weekend getaway or a whole summer trip, Shaver Lake is an outdoor paradise!


For Cassie, every destination deepens her love for God. Her mission is to inspire that same love in others. Hang around and find something to inspire your next adventure!


  • Desirae

    Shakes from Hungry Hut are a must! And don’t forget an off road trail adventure to Bald Mountain. One of the best views!

  • christinelangford316

    I’m adding this to my bucket list! Your website is clean and beautiful. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures.