Lake Berryessa Spillway

lake berryessa

It’s been a rainy Winter here in Northern California, and you can easily see the effects of all the rain when you look at any of the rivers in the area. Even though we’ve been living here for less than two years, both my husband and I are impressed with the water levels here in Sacramento and snow in the sierra, but everyone is. That said, nothing will be as fascinating as the Lake Berryessa Spillway at the Monticello Dam in Napa County. This type of uncontrolled spillway is designed in a way that the excess water from the dam will naturally flow down into a concrete funnel, managing the lake’s water levels. But the drought in California was so intense, that the spillway spent over a decade without being operational. A quick internet research and you’ll find some impressive photos of the dam before. So as soon as we heard that Lake Berryessa’s famous Glory Hole was running again, my husband and I were set to see it for ourselves.

The drive to Monticello Dam is quite long if you’re driving from Sacramento, it took us about an hour to get there, but it’s quite picturesque. The rain changes the landscape in a way that everything is so green, it’s just magnificent. Once we got there, we noticed that we were not the only ones that had that same idea. People are curious to see the spillway working so it made sense that there were a lot of people trying to find parking on the side of the road. But soon we found a place to park and headed our way to see the spillway.

Lake Berryessa Spillway

Lake Berryessa Spillway

lake berryessa spillway

The dam itself is quite impressive but not as impressive as the Glory Hole. It made me think of a sort of black hole where water would be sent to another dimension. Clearly not, since the excess water flows all the way to the other side of the dam.  That part of the lake is protected by buoys and fenced all around. Still, it is quite close to the road, so people are able to see it up close – a bit tricky to take pictures, though. Standing there and watching the water flow is quite mesmerizing. Quite unexpected, I have to admit.

Lake Berryessa Slipway. . . . #visitsacramento #impressive #spillway #water #lake #waterdam

A post shared by Camila Aimbiré (@caimbire) on

After taking a few pictures and staring at that huge hole for a few minutes, we headed back home. We decided though to stop in a town on the way called Winters, which is known for their restaurants. We grabbed a couple of pastries and carried on our way. It was a fun way to leave the house and enjoy a sunny afternoon.

Have you ever seen a spillway like this before?

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lake berryessa


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