OAKDALE — On a regular sunny summer day, the water atop Woodward Reservoir is calm.
It might ripple if a breeze blows up, as it’s known to do in the late afternoon as the air that comes off of the San Joaquin Delta makes its way through the Central Valley and out onto the closest body of standing water to more than 100,000 area residents.
Those conditions make it ripe for skiers, wakeboarders and fishermen all looking to enjoy Woodward’s charms.
But it also provides people like Diego Larez the chance to cool off without having to deal with the crowds that he finds with his friends at popular river beaches.
“You can come out here and swim and float and not have to worry about running into another group or finding your own spot,” he said. “It gets crowded on the weekend, but it’s a cool spot during the week and you can’t find a whole lot of places like that.”
Operated by the Stanislaus County Parks and Recreation Department, Woodward Reservoir — constructed nearly 100 years ago as a pioneering move in water storage for farmers in South San Joaquin County — provides miles upon miles of shoreline for fishing, camping, boating, swimming and even more extreme adventures.
When the water level dips during drought years, clay cliffs that were weathered over years become exposed and provide adventurous young people with the opportunity for cliff jumping — sparing them the extra 20-minute drive up to Knights Ferry.
Duck hunters turn the shoreline into a shooting gallery when the season comes, but the summer months are ripe for bird watchers that appreciate the unique species that flourish in the area - a variety of vultures and hawks hunt the field animals that take up residence throughout the area.
By JASON CAMPBELL
209 staff reporter