Open 7 days a week
Day Use: 6 AM - 8 PM
Boating: 6 AM - 6:30 PM
(Running lights after sunset)
Lake Perris State Recreation Area
About Lake Perris
"A sparkling jewel and a land of mystery..."
The untended areas of Lake Perris may seem rocky and barren at first glance, but an amazing variety of natural wonders are waiting to be found by those who seek them out. The predominant plant community, coastal sage scrub, is home to a variety of birds and wildlife. Mule deer, roadrunners, bobcats, coyotes, cotton tail, jack rabbits, quail, gopher snakes, and rattlesnakes may sometimes be seen by day, though they tend to shy away from people. More frequently seen are a wide variety of lizards, rodents, water fowl, and birds of prey. Beautiful displays of wildflowers occur during the rainy season- generally November through April.
Lake Perris is ringed by various hills and small mountains. The coastal sage scrub community is predominant on the south-facing slopes of the Russell Mountains and Bernasconi Hills and is characterized by shrubby plants including desert encelia, brittlebush, sagebrush, black sage, white sage, buckwheat, and cacti. Conditions are somewhat shadier on hillsides that face north or northwest so that chaparral plants such as chamise, penstemon, and--caution!--poison oak are apt to be found. Remnants of the original perennial grasses that once flourished in this region can still be found in the flat interior of the park surrounding the lake, but the majority of plants that now make up the valley grassland community (including Russian thistle) were imported from Europe by early settlers. Riparian areas near springs and seeps, and on east and south lakes include willows, cattails, elderberry and nettles.
Most plants and animals at Lake Perris are well adapted to the hot, dry environment. Chamise leaves are tiny and waxy to maximize water loss due to evaporation. Some grasses and wildflowers rush from bloom to seed in just a few short weeks and are able therefore to complete their life cycle within the brief wet season. Kangaroo rats are so well adapted to dry environments that they seldom drink water, and manage to extract the moisture they need directly from their food. The plants and animals of Perris valley have changed considerably over the last two hundred years due to human activity, but the natural history of this area can still intrigue the observant visitor.
More than a hundred different species of birds have been spotted at Lake Perris. Many are migratory, and stop at the park briefly during their travels, while others make their permanent residence here. Larks, loggerhead shrikes, roadrunners, California thrashers, quail, wrens, sparrows, hummingbirds, golden eagles, several varieties of hawks, ospreys, and even bald eagles may be seen. In addition, many varieties of waterfowl use the lake including pintails, widgeons, teals, mallards, shovelers, various geese, and sometimes whistling swans and pelicans. Blacknecked stilts, avocets, killdeer, willets, kingfishers, egrets, and herons are attracted to the water’s edge.
Day and night, hawks and owls are frequently seen hunting for mice, moles, wood rats, and other rodents. These animals provide food not only for hawks, owls, and snakes, but also for coyotes, long-tailed weasels, skunks, badgers, and bobcats. The bike trail offers an easy and convenient way to see some of the birds and other wildlife of Lake Perris. Early morning or dusk are the best times. Ranger-led hikes are conducted during the spring and early summer months.
For your safety, and the safety of the animals please do not harass or interact with the wildlife and always tred carefully.
Park Alerts and News
All vessels entering Lake Perris SRA will be inspected for standing water and quagga mussels. Vessels that fail inspection will not be allowed to launch. We do not want you to fail this free inspection! More >>
Updated 5-4-17 on Closures, Dam, and Water Levels: Big Rock Climbing Rock, Fisherman's Lot, the Dam, and the Bernasconi Day Use/Camping areas are closed to all public access until further notice due to the construction at the dam. More >>
Lake Perris is pleased to offer a new fun and educational game to visitors, Agents of Discovery! Dowload the app, and prepare your family for a great time hiking while learning about the natural wonder of Lake Perris State Recreation Area. For even more fun, check out the Agents of Discovery Southern California Explorer Campaign after your completion of Lake Perris's challenge. Questions? Dowload the the FAQ and Info document HERE or contact the Ya'i Heki' Regional Indian Museum at (951) 940-5657.
Begin your journey in Parking Lot 8 and follow the bike path east towards Lot 9 to explore the diverse habitats of the park. This is an easy and flat route.
Pick up your badge at the on-site Yai'Heki' Regional Indian Museum on Fridays from 10am-2pm, or Saturdays and Sundays 10am-4pm.
Available Activities and Facilities at Lake Perris State Recreation Area
Hike or Bike Campsites
RV Sites w/Hookups
RV Dump Station
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Restrooms / Showers
Drinking Water Available