Annual Bald Eagle Tours

Eagles in treeEach winter, majestic bald eagles migrate to Millerton Lake to take advantage of the area's mild climate and plentiful food sources. By late December, numerous bald eagles have arrived at the lake, where they perch in tall trees and scan the park for its prey.

Seeing these regal birds in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience. Join us aboard our tour-style pontoon boat for a special 3-hourEagle Tour, offered weekends January through mid-March. A knowledgeable guide will point out eagle sightings and provide fascinating facts and stories about these iconic raptors. As we cruise across the lake, you'll have ample viewing opportunities to photograph these incredible birds of prey in action, so be sure to bring a camera along. Binoculars are provided for the duration of the tour. Complimentary hot chocolate is provided.

Tours meet at Ramp #1 on the South Shore (Fresno side) of the lake. Tours depart promptly at 9:00am and run through 12:00pm. Please plan to arrive by 8:45am to allow time for check-in and fee collection. Park Rangers will collect fees upon boarding. Be sure to dress warmly for the weather. We recommend dressing in layers, along with beanie style hat, gloves, sweater or jacket, and even long johns for those who are extra sensitive to the cold. Blankets may also be brought aboard for your comfort.

people on tourWhether you're a bird enthusiast or simply looking for an unforgettable experience, Millerton Lake Eagle Tours is the perfect outing for everyone. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to witness the grace and power of these magnificent birds! Reserve online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/millerton-lake-eagle-tours-tickets-736841742487?aff=oddtdtcreator. For more information, call (559)822-2332 or email millertonlake.eagletours@parks.ca.gov  

When: Weekends; January through mid-March (Including MLK Jr. Day & Presidents Day)

Time: 9:00AM - 12:00PM (Check-In @ 8:45AM)

Location: Boat Ramp #1 (South Shore), 5290 Millerton Rd Friant, CA 93626

Cost: $20 per person (includes vehicle day-use fee)

Register

Accessibility: Tours are (ADA) wheelchair accessible. Please notify park staff upon reserving.

Space is limited to 25 passengers per tour. Reservations are required. Cost is $20 per person. Fees will be collected upon arrival in the form of cash or check ONLY. Please make checks payable to ‘DPR’. Payments may not be made through Eventbrite; your ticket solely reserves your space for selected date and does not waive fee. Tour fee includes vehicle day-use fee, do not pay for admission at kiosk. Please place your confirmation/ticket on your dashboard. Tours may be cancelled for inclement weather. Although uncommon, eagle sightings are not guaranteed.

Group Reservations

Groups may reserve the entire boat for a special/private tour at the rate of $450 (25 people). Groups wishing to reserve a group tour must call the park office in advance. Group tours are subject to staff and date availability. Special group tours may be requested for weekdays only. For more information on private group tours, please call (559)822-2332 or email millertonlake.eagletours@parks.ca.gov

School Eagle Tours (K-12) Field Trips

School Eagle Tours are offered every Friday (January – March)

FREE to local schools.

Bring your lessons to life and give students an experience they’ll soon not forget with an eagle tour at Millerton Lake! Geared towards 4th graders, this program is designed to have students observe the natural world around them and make inferences on the characteristics that allow living things to survive in their respective environment. Using the bald eagle as a case study, students will gather evidence for specific adaptations amongst these birds that allow them to be successful predators. All while taking a ride on a boat on Millerton Lake.

The boat can accommodate up to 25 students at a time, stations may be assigned for group rotations with larger/multiple classes. A detailed program outline is available upon request.

Teachers interested in a school tour must contact the park for reservations by phone (559)822-2332 or by email at millertonlake@ports-ca.us . Please direct correspondence to Eduardo Gonzalez (K-12 Access Interpreter I).

If you teach at a Title I Public School, you may qualify for up to $1000 in reimbursements toward your field trip transportation costs! Available through our passPORTS program. Must be paired with our virtual on-demand PORTS program.

Day use fees are not charged for school groups (K through 12) provided reservations have been made. Reservations must be made 15 days in advance of the proposed date of your visit to allow preparation and scheduling by park personnel. Tours subject to availability on a first come, first served basis. The Department reserves the right to combine tours when necessary. School groups shall be accompanied by enough school-appointed adult escorts or teachers to maintain order, and their escorts or teachers shall accompany the students while on the tour. Tours size remains limited to 25 persons per tour, stations may be assigned for rotation for larger/multiple classes.

Brief History on Bald Eagles at Millerton Lake

eagles tree closeupBald Eagles have been a part of the California Central Valley landscape for thousands of years. Fossil bones from the Pleistocene Age (15,000-50,000 years ago) have been discovered in the McKittrick Tar Pits in Kern County. Oral history passed down from the Dumna tribe, “the people of the Eagle” whose ancestorial lands lay rest beneath the body of the lake, share their timeless connection to these majestic birds and the landscape over generations.  

Before the construction of Fraint dam, wintering Bald Eagles gorged on the abundance of Chinook Salmon along the San Joaquin River. Following 1942, their diets would change to consist mostly of California ground squirrels, rabbits, and American coots.

Park staff have monitored these birds closely since the mid-1980s, counting dozens of eagles each season. A study conducted through the capture and release of eagles, equipped with GPS trackers, revealed the birds’ journey was one of over 2,000 miles. Migrating from the northern territories of Canada, wintering at Millerton Lake and back again.

Since 1984, visitors have been witness to the wintertime serenity of the central Sierra Nevada foothill Bald Eagle range via a 25-passenger tour barge. The program hopes to inspire stewardship of this land, as a wintering habitat, and increase overall appreciation of this iconic bird. Forty years later, we continue this proud tradition.