EAGLE LAKE RV PARK – Spalding – Eagle Lake
By Eileen Majors
This trip up to Eagle Lake was indeed an adventure. I had been evacuated from the Dixie Fire and had spent the first three nights in Reno, then a night in the last available Susanville motel. On my fourth day in evacuation mode, arriving at the RV Park felt like a welcome home. A beautifully-manicured RV park included nice, big pull through spots for RVs and as I would eventually learn, cabins. Tall pine and fir trees provided a picturesque forest scene, clean and serene. After getting in and saying hello to family and friends who were also evacuating from our town, we walked down to the store to get a few things and check on a place for me to stay. I knew immediately that I was glad I landed in this beautiful and friendly place.
It had been decades since my last trip to Eagle Lake, when I came out for a big 4th of July celebration. I recall hundreds eating together; lots of fish stories and an incredibly welcoming atmosphere, where friends and neighbors live and vacation in the mountains, surrounded by beautiful wildlife. The same thing is still going on today and it turns out the 4th of July is still a really big deal up here. Many friends and neighbors enjoy the lake year ‘round with many more arriving during the summer months.
On the walk to the store I spotted two small, adorably rustic cabins I wanted to inquire about, The Ritz and The Carlton,
The store was filled with supplies and food, from a myriad of just the right groceries and liquor to fountain sodas and soft serve ice cream. You can buy a snack and enjoy it at a table inside or outdoors on the deck which featured views of Eagle Lake’s local air strip and the picturesque lake shore beyond.
As it turned out The Ritz cabin I inquired about would be available in the morning. I took it.
I found out this friendly, welcoming way of life has been going on for years at this resort when I met with manager Frankie Muse and his grandma, the owner, Sylvia Schmitt. He recalls a time when he and his cousins would work around the resort for the exciting payment of frosty cones. Sylvia and Frankie fondly recalled the family task of raking pine needles every year before the resort opened. Frankie now manages the resort while Sylvia tends to her carpet and flooring business in Redding. She told me she heads up to the lake every chance she gets to enjoy the peace and quiet of it all. When I asked who set up their beautifully decorated cabins, Frankie proudly pointed to his grandma. I complimented her on the tasteful decor, well stocked kitchens and baths and nice beddings.
Sylvia is no stranger to hard work; she ended up at Eagle Lake in the first place running a logging company with her husband. Their company had gotten some work up there and she told me, “My husband said ‘check this place out. I like it up here’.” Soon she was managing a resort, and living the life at Eagle Lake. Later they would buy the Eagle Lake RV Park.
The park now has 65 spacious RV sites. Under the trees, the paved drives include many drive-through spots and several cabins to choose from, for one to six persons. Each had its charm. A store, playground, a fun recreation room and horseshoes are among the amenities offered.
My first cabin was The Ritz, which I referred to as my “Mash” cabin (from the show, Mash 4077.) This small, wooden cabin had screens for windows with outdoor wooden shutters to close it up at night. I chose the larger bed and slept quite comfortably. There were also two bunks. For these cabins, you bring your own bedding. Fortunately, since I had no idea where I was going to sleep, I had stopped and bought cozy cotton bedding, an electric teapot and as with everywhere I go, I had my computer and coffee. With two end tables and chairs, I had the room set up in no time. In one corner my office; in the other corner was the space I called my kitchen. My electric teapot, Starbucks ground coffee and my trusty Melita® drip coffee cone along with the very last coffee cup I could find to buy in Susanville. I guess I’m not the only one who enjoys the full coffee experience. I had real half and half in my ice chest bag along with decadent cookies of course, all bought at the Eagle Lake Campground store, right in the park. Their store serves the entire community.
I soon upgraded to sharing an adorable tiny house with family. We enjoyed a full kitchen, television and a portable air conditioner to help battle the hot days. It looked brand new and was very comfortable with a master bedroom, kitchen and living room downstairs, two beds upstairs in a loft and a small patio and barbecue.
As more family arrived, I moved into a larger two-bedroom modular home with a wonderful kitchen, beautiful bay window views and large cozy living room. This comfortable spot would be my home for the remainder of my 21-day evacuation. It was a great experience. Several old friends and neighbors had also discovered this jewel of a park. Others were staying in cabins nearby. It was great to connect with familiar faces from the past. Emilly, Becca and mom, Evelyn Stone made several community dinners as Frankie let us take up extra space to leave tables set up during our stay. The food was delicious, the familiar feeling of being in a small community, even better.
The kids had a blast. Most had bikes with them but for others bicycle rentals at the store came in handy. There was also a nice playground and, of course, the rec. room where they really enjoyed playing pool and other games. The game of Corn Hole was set up at one of the RV spots and was the hot spot for adults and kids, but it was mostly the big guys who played this game. The kids and adults alike enjoyed a basketball hoop donated by Lassen High Staff & Alumni.
Hiking and bicycling are common adventures in the area with quiet roads and vast views to enjoy.
THE LOCAL BAR – A VFW POST
There is a local bar for those signing in as a guest of the Local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #162. There will be a local member there to welcome you to this unique building donated to the Post. The funds raised in the bar and at their local fundraisers goes to support many good causes. They are currently supporting a home for homeless veterans located in Reno.
The post building is a cute log cabin with a long rustic bar and another seating area indoors. Outside is a nice shaded deck with tables. You can throw a game of horseshoes on the lawn. The place is generally open from 3pm to 7pm but is known to stay open later during busy times or when they’re hosting a special event. We visited during their annual chili cook-off which brought in a host of great cooks and hungry tasters to benefit the cause.
FISHING AND WILDLIFE WATCHING
Eagle Lake is famous for its Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout, a breed endemic to Eagle Lake and its main tributary, Pine Creek. The fish have adapted to the lake’s uniquely high pH and alkalinity, and rely on it for their existence. Eagle Lake is one of California’s largest natural lakes and winter brings excellent opportunities for shore fishing. Many local anglers celebrate holiday traditions with early morning fishing trips up to Eagle Lake. The lake generally closes for fishing on December 31st but this year we are told the date is expected to extend to the end of this February, 2022. Be sure to check CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Regulations for current information and dress warm.
Wildlife watching is popular at Eagle Lake. The bartender at the VFW Post said she had spent the last few weeks watching antelope come down to the north edge of the lake for a drink. They are commonly spotted on the drive in to Eagle Lake. She also noted spotting eagles quite often. April through September are peak months for viewing eagles.
Early spring brings Canada geese, pintails, mallards and other waterfowl, along with osprey and good viewing throughout the summer.
Mule deer are common. Pronghorn antelope travel across the northern and eastern sides of the Eagle Lake Basin. Bobcats and various small mammals make their homes in the area. When traveling by car, watch for wildlife viewing turnoffs along Highway 139.
Eagle Lake RV Park – Open Year ‘Round