Lake Mendocino

Coordinates: 39°12′N 123°11′W / 39.200°N 123.183°W / 39.200; -123.183
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Lake Mendocino
Lake Mendocino CA.jpg
Lake Mendocino from its northern shore
Location of Lake Mendocino in California, USA.
Location of Lake Mendocino in California, USA.
Lake Mendocino
Location of Lake Mendocino in California, USA.
Location of Lake Mendocino in California, USA.
Lake Mendocino
LocationMendocino County, California
Coordinates39°12′N 123°11′W / 39.200°N 123.183°W / 39.200; -123.183
Primary inflowsEast Fork Russian River
Primary outflowsEast Fork Russian River[1]
Catchment area105 sq mi (270 km2)[1]
Basin countriesUnited States
Surface area1,922 acres (7.78 km2)[1]
Max. depth133 ft (41 m)
Water volume122,400 acre⋅ft (0.1510 km3)[1]
Surface elevation737.5 ft (224.8 m)

Lake Mendocino is a large reservoir in Mendocino County, California, northeast of Ukiah. It covers 1,922 acres (7.78 km2)[1] and was formed by the construction of Coyote Valley Dam in 1958. The lake and dam provide flood control, water conservation, hydroelectric power, and recreation.[2] The dam also includes a fallout shelter built during the Cold War era to protect against the radiation from nuclear attacks from the Soviet Union.


Lake Mendocino is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and offers disc golf, boating, water skiing, fishing, camping, and hiking.[2]

There are 300+ campsites plus a small number of boat-in only sites. Three groups of campsites are named in the Pomo language of the local native people.[3]

There are two boat ramps, at the north and south ends of the lake, and use for watersports is permitted. The lake also has numerous day use and picnic areas. Several hiking trails traverse the length of the lake.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has developed a safe eating advisory for Lake Mendocino based on levels of mercury found in fish caught from this water body.[4]

Coyote Dam[edit]

Coyote Dam (or Coyote Valley Dam) is an earthen dam 164 ft (50 m) high, 3,532 ft (1,077 m) long, and 20 ft (6 m) wide, with a total volume of 6,150,000 cu yd (4,700,000 m3). It was built as a flood control project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Completed in 1959, it sits across the East Fork Russian River, which is the primary source of inflow to the lake.[1] The dam offers public access by foot. The purpose of the dam was to prevent flooding in the Ukiah valley, and provide a water supply for Sonoma county.[5] During the Cold War it served as a fallout shelter in the case of a nuclear attack, which remains today at the dam with a radioactive symbol. There is also an hydroelectric dam controlled by the army corps of engineers including flood supply, which provides energy for the surrounding cities.

Coyote Valley[edit]

Beneath the surface of the lake lies the old Coyote Valley. With the construction of the dam, the Army Corps had to relocate the residents of the valley, along with a short portion of State Route 20 which was subsequently inundated.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Dams Owned and Operated by Federal Agencies" (PDF). Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Lake Mendocino". Archived from the original on February 8, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  3. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on July 13, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
  4. ^ Admin, OEHHA (December 30, 2014). "Lake Mendocino". OEHHA. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  5. ^ Sommer, Lauren (January 11, 2023). "Heavy rain is still hitting California. A few reservoirs figured out how to capture more for drought". NPR News.

External links[edit]