Lake McClure Horseshoe Bend Campground

The construction of the concrete gravity arch dam, Exchequer Dam, in 1924-1926 created a 280,000-acre foot water storage reservoir behind the dam 14 miles long. For the first few years, the lake was known as Exchequer Reservoir, but the name was changed to Lake McClure in 1926 to honor California State Engineer W.F. McClure.

In 1968, the dam was raised to increase the storage capacity of the lake and was renamed New Exchequer Dam. Lake McClure offers more than 80 miles of delightful shoreline.

The sparking clear water of the Merced River flows from Yosemite Park into the lake, which has a maximum elevation of 867 feet above sea level. The 26-mile lake has a surface area of over 7,000 acres, enough room for enthusiasts to enjoy his/her favorite water sport.

Wildlife flourishes along the scenic shoreline. You'll often see deer, raccoon and foxes roaming the water's edge, while eagles and hawks soar above. Heron and other aquatic birds drink from the lake's crystal waters. Lake McClure beckons its guests to enjoy themselves with fishing, camping, houseboating or just a relaxing day at the lake with the family.Activities abound on the lake, Boating on Lake McClure is both pleasurable and convenient. Large concrete boat ramps and first-class boarding floats are available at each recreation area, with comfort stations, fish cleaning facilities and plenty of parking for cars and trailers nearby. Convenient marinas provide mooring, boat rentals, bait and tackle, ice, gas, oil and groceries.

Lake McClure is a water skiing enthusiast's dream! McClure's often-glassy surface provides runs that are both smooth and picturesque. Ski boats and houseboats are available for rent at Barrett Cove Marina. Lake McClure also enjoys the reputation of being known as one of the very best fishing lakes in California. This may be due to the elaborate trout, king salmon and Florida largemouth bass stocking programs. Or perhaps it is because so many fish call our lakes home, including rainbow trout, black bass, spotted bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, salmon and shad.

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Latitude: 37.6988984 Longitude: -120.2379799 Elevation: 901 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Debbie Cook

Number of Camp Sites

110 camping units, 35 water-electric hookups

Campground Style


Maximum Campsite Spur Length

35 feet

Maximum Number of People Cabin or Fire Lookout May Accommodate

8 people per site

Nightly Fee

non-hookup $21, hookup $27, Senior rate non-hookup $18, Hookup $24

Maximum Length of Stay Allowed

14 consecutive days

Direct Link to Reservation Site or call 209-878-3452

Driving Directions

A few miles west of the historic town of Coutlerville is Horseshoe Bend Recreational Area.

Horseshoe Bend is located just three miles off of Highway 132. From Highway 99 at Modesto take, Highway 132 east through La Grange From Highway 99 at Turlock, take Road J17 through Snelling From Merced, take Highway 59 to Road J17 through Snelling From Highway 49, take Highway 132 west at Coulterville to Horseshoe Bend or use Bagby access at the Merced River north of Bear Valley Mileage information From Merced, 27 miles From Modesto-Turlock, 40 miles From Fresno, 85 miles From Sacramento, 120 miles From Stockton, 49 miles From San Jose, 124 miles From San Francisco, 133 miles From Yosemite National Park, 57 miles From Bakersfield, 185 miles From Los Angeles, 298 miles From San Diego, 434 miles From Monterey, 156 miles

Eco-Friendly Notes

Like John Muir who traveled through the area and described Horseshoe Bend as "a glorious wilderness that seemed to be calling with a thousand songful voices. Bold down-sweeping slopes, feathered with pines and clumps of manzanita with sunny open spaces between them..." Enjoy wildlife viewing, bird watching, nature walks in the undisturbed areas within the campground or take a look above at blue skies where birds and hang gliders occasionally soar together. Both are the perfect example of a friendly relationship between humans and their habitat.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets allowed on leash with extra charge per night.


Great place for Muir admirers to get out of the car while heading up Hwy 132 and experience the beautiful natural settings that Muir passed through in 1869. Thank you, Debbie, for putting this on the map for visitors seeking to relive Muir’s first Yosemite visit.

Ken Pulvino, 11/7/2009

I would love to visit but only if I can pre-book a campsite. I cannot access the website or the reservations page

Liz Harris, 8/26/2017

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