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Gorden - Lake Elisnor 1

A refreshing day trip to Lake Elisnore, Calif.

With the Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes RV Resort as a home base, the entire Southern California region offers day trips for interested RVers. Either a towed vehicle or a motorcycle is great transportation to Lake Elisnore and beyond.

The largest freshwater lake in Southern California covers more than 3,000 acres and is partially surrounded by the town of Lake Elisnore. The lake is available for water sports and water activities of all kinds and has been a recreational resort for nearly 100 years.

The Lake Elisnore size and volume has a varied history which is dependent upon rain fall in southern California. Drought, irrigation use and other uses of the water have resulted in the lake decreasing in size from an overflowing lake to a mud flat and then rebounding to overflow again. Currently the volume has been somewhat stable in recent history. However, a relatively high salt content, although it is still freshwater by definition, has restricted the use of the lake water for crop irrigation.

Gorden - Lake Elisnor 2

According to MapQuest the distance is about 50 miles from Menifee, Calif. to Dana Point, Calif. The shortest distance is through the city of Lake Elisnore via Hwy. 74. The signage for route 74 is not good. So, from I-15 turn north on Hwy. 74 just west of I-15 and then turn west to travel Hwy. 74 up and over the mountain.

It is at the top of the mountain, directly west of the city and the lake, that the best view of the entire area can be seen. The lake is a bright emerald in the desert under the brilliant sunshine with low hills spreading in all directions. There are several pull offs and viewing sites as one travels on Hwy. 74. It is worth the drive a few miles west just to view the city and the lake from this vantage point.

Proceeding west on Hwy. 74 it is an especially interesting and challenging trip for motorcyclists. One Sunday afternoon in July, I drove this route to Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano. The motorcyclists were abundant, numbering well over 100 bikes traveling both east and west. My friend, Toni, a Harley girl, has informed me that Hwy. 74 is a favorite roadway with the hilly curves, dips and rises, for weekend bikers. She has biked there many times and always enjoys the thrill of the ride.

Even in my Saturn Vue, the trip was a bit of a challenging thrill as a motorcycles often passed across the double yellow line, over hills and around blind curves. Later in that same week, on a Friday morning, I drove east on Hwy. 74 from Dana Point back to Menifee with very little traffic and not a single motorcycle in sight on the highway.

Lake Elisnore has much to offer as a small, growing city in Southern California. The Lake Elsinore Storm is a minor-league baseball affiliate of the San Diego Padres. There are many other civic and sports activities affiliated with the city. Online offers a detailed history of the lake, the growth of the city from a small resort area serving Los Angeles and southern California to the more permanent residential city of 2015. To read it, click here.

For an exciting day trip for RVers take your car, boat or motorcycle and visit Lake Elisnore and beyond. For more information, visit

About Dr. Bob Gorden

Dr. Bob Gorden is an RVer, hiker and writer. He has a PhD in microbial ecology from the University of Georgia in Athens. He is a retired research scientist from the University of Illinois Natural History Survey. He has owned and operated more than 55 RVs of various types, and has visited every state, except Hawaii, in his RV. He also traveled by RV in New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. He currently owns and travels in a 1978 GMC 26-foot Class A and 2013 Thor ACE 30.1 Class A motorhome. He has a compelling desire to be “On the Road Again!”

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