Lake Perris State Recreation Area

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Good place to visit but not a great place to go camping

Jul 31, 2007 (Updated Jul 31, 2007)
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Pros:Plenty of things to do

Cons:Campsites are too close together with no privacy. Picnic area needs better maintenance.

The Bottom Line: Lake Perris isn't the best place to go if you enjoy a 'real camping' experience but there are plenty of things to do there that the whole family can enjoy.


Lake Perris, located in Moreno Valley, California is a state recreation area offering many activities. Visitors may purchase day passes for $8.00 per vehicle / up to 9 persons or overnight camping passes for $25.00 for a family pass (up to 8 people and three vehicles). There are also group rates and annual passes available.

The Lake is quite large and has different areas for swimming, boating, and fishing. There is also a Marina which has a small convenience store offering many overpriced items such as ice, soft drinks, snacks, coffee, bait, and many other items you might need while staying at the campgrounds or spending the day on the beach.

There are several different campgrounds for families (up to 8 people with a maximum of 3 cars), groups, and horse campgrounds. The horse campgrounds are located away from the main campgrounds and include corrals, water troughs, picnic tables, campfire rings, drinking water and chemical toilets. There are also parking areas with hookups for RV's.

Other activities include trails for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling. Horses are available for rent Tuesday through Sunday at a cost of $20 per hour.

There are picnic areas with grills and shaded tables located near the lake.

We went to Lake Perris recently for a weekend camping trip with friends.

We arrived at around 6:00pm hoping to have plenty of daylight for setting up our campsite but the long check-in lines took forever and we didn't actually get to our campsite until nearly 7:00pm. My friend had reservations and the price given to her was only $54.00 which was supposed to include the price for two cars. But when we got to the window, they charged her $14.00 extra for the second car.

Our campsite was located within view of the check-in station and fairly close to the lake. When we arrived at the campsite, we were very disappointed. Last time we had been there, we had a campsite located in an area where the campsites were a little further apart and had some privacy. The campsite we had this was located within yards of other campsites with no bushes or anything to give us any privacy. The campsites themselves are not very attractive at all. Since Lake Perris is located in the middle of a desert and it was the middle of July, there weren't many plants and there was no grass. Our campsite consisted of a parking place for our two cars, two or three trees for shade, a flat dirt area for tents, and a small cement covered area with a picnic table and a grill.

Our friends (a family of 6 including the mother, father, grandmother, and three kids) had tents while my roommate and I slept under the stars on an air mattress. We quickly set up camp and started cooking our dinners. My roommate and I had brought a little grill and made hamburgers while my friends attempted to cook on the large, dirty, circular grill that was provided. After taking one look at that grill, I was surprised that my friends would even think of cooking on it without trying to clean it up first.

Water faucets are provided for cleaning up and there were two restroom facilities close by. Unfortunately, we were located right in the middle so it was a bit of a walk to get to either one of them. After dinner, I went to what looked like the closest of the two restroom facilities for a shower. The restroom facilities included two stalls with toilets and one large shower stall. When we got there, the place looked like it hadn't been cleaned that day. There were two sinks and one electric hand dryer. The mirrors, if you could call them that, were dirty and had graffiti etched into every available surface. There was also an electrical outlet for hairdryers etc.. but it wasn't working. One of our friends complained about non working electrical outlet to a park ranger and this was fixed within a couple of hours.

Going to sleep was very difficult as we were way too close to the other campsites and right next to one of the parks main roads. Quiet time is supposed to be 10:00pm and all loud music is supposed to be turned off. However, there were several campsite with very loud music playing until at least midnight. About an hour after we all turned in for the night, a group of people moved into two of the campsites next to ours. While there is little bit of distance between the campsites (maybe 20 yards) it seemed like they were right next to us and they were very noisy as they were setting up their campsites. Not a pleasant experience to say the least.

The next day we went down to the lake. My roommate and I made use of the picnic facilities and made hamburgers on one of the grills there. These grills are much easier to use than the one at the campsite but they were very dirty. The picnic tables, while close to each other, do offer a bit of privacy and they are shaded so they are quite pleasant even on a warm day. The only complaint I had was that the wooden picnic tables look like they really need to be cleaned up or replaced. The grill was also filthy. We were very uncomfortable cooking on it but we figured the fire would kill anything that could be dangerous.

After lunch we went to the lake. The beach we went to is large and offers volleyball nets. There are also several portable toilets located on the beach as well as larger restroom buildings with showers back in the picnic area. The lake water looks green and murky but it was nice and cold and, once we got used to it, it wasn't so bad to swim in. There are several lifeguards watching over the swimming area and one thing that bothered me was that they make you stay very close to the shore. Swimmers are not allowed to be in water that comes past their shoulders when they are standing. I think this is a stupid rule.

We never got the chance to go hiking or horseback riding. It was too hot to do much except swim and relax on the beach or the large grassy area close to the picnic tables.

Overall, I would say that, while the campsites leave a lot to be desired, Lake Perris is a fairly nice place to spend a weekend.


Recommend this product? Yes


Best time to go: March-May
Recommended for: Familes
Review Topic: Campgrounds & Lodging


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