Rollins Lake - Photo by Jason Scallin 2023



We love our beautiful and peaceful home lake. In case you aren't familiar with Rollins Lake, here are some fun facts about one of the best recreational lakes in Northern California.

Rollins Lake has it all. You can Jet Ski, Water Ski, Fish for a number of types of fish, Hike, Swim, Canoe, ride Paddle Boats, Stand Up Boards, and so much more.

Below is an aerial view of Rollins Lake so you can see the entire lake, its shape and proximity.

Aerial Map of Rollins Lake

Earliest Recorded Exploration

Spanish explorers are known to have been in the area as early as 1822. These explorers actually named the river near here "Rio de Oso" or "Bear River" as it's known today.

The Fish Hatchery

Ironically, as early as 1866, there was a fish hatchery near where the Greenhorn end of Rollins Lake is today. The hatchery was put together by partners John Thorp and James Smith and it was operated by the state of California.

Visible Old Mine Tunnels

Rollins Lake typically lowers by roughly 80 feet during the summer months. This is when old roads and mine tunnels can be seen. There were many mines established in the late 1800s in the area and remnants can occasionally be seen at times.

How Rollins Lake Was Named

Nevada County and Placer County came together in 1921 and created the Nevada Irrigation District (NID). The first step in creating Rollins Lake was to create a dam on the Gold Rush-era land.

Rollins Dam was named after physician and prohibition leader Dr. Jarret Laben Rollins. Dr. Rollins was an integral part of establishing the Bear River Water and Power Co. which later joined with NID to acquire other private systems. Dr. Rollins died of a heart attack in 1933.

In 1966, a ceremony was held to officially dedicate the future reservoir in his name, starting with the Rollins Dam project.

Aerial photo of Rollins Dam in 1964

Facts about the water

Rollins Dam is on Bear River which starts west of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Placer County. Water from Bear River comes from the Drum Canal at Spaulding Lake, located on the southern section of the Yuba River.

Drum Afterbay (aka Upper Bear River) is where the water flows out of Spaulding Lake. From there, water flows into the Middle Bear River where Dutch Flat Reservoir is and then it flows through the Alta Powerhouse.

Water continues flowing from there and then merges with Steephollow Creek, the largest tributary in the upper watershed, before getting to Rollins Lake. After Rollins Lake, water flows into Lake Combie, Wolf Creek, Camp Far West Reservoir and joins the Feather River south of Yuba City.

Eventually, water flows into the Sacramento River 20 miles northwest of Sacramento.

What Swims Under The Surface

It has been reported that the fish to catch in Rollins Lake include German Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout Massachusetts Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Redear Sunfish, Bullhead Catfish, Channel Catfish, and Blue Catfish. See a list of the most commonly caught fish in Rollins Lake.

We recommend practicing catch and release while here, but if you plan on consuming fish caught out of Rollins Lake/Reservoir, we recommend taking a look at the advisory based on mercury levels from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Please be safe.

Rollins Lake Fish - Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass

Camping Options

Campgrounds here are owned and operated by NID (Nevada Irrigation District). There are campsites around the lake in areas such as Greenhorn, Long Ravine, and Orchard Springs, to name a few.

Overall, there are around 250 campsites with various services available. Campgrounds provide bathrooms, showers, barbecue grills, picnic areas, volleyball courts, and fire pits. The campground at Greenhorn has a general store and arcade.

For the most accurate information and list of campgrounds, visit the NID Campground Information page.

Boating Options

Facilities at Peninsula Camping and Boating and Rollins Lake Boat Rentals offer ski boats, wakeboard boats, pontoon boats and fishing boats as well as kayaks, paddle boards, and canoes for rent.

For the most accurate information and rental availability, visit the NID Contact page.