Found some free time and want to get outside? The Lafayette Reservoir (the “Rez”) a repuation as Lafayette’s favorite meeting spot. Meeting a friend? “The Rez”, going for a jog? “The Rez”, want to get in a killer workout (upper rim!)? “The Rez” Mommy stroller time? “The Rez”.
Usually referred to simply as “The Rez,” it includes a large basin of water and a number of paths and trails to explore. The water is bordered by a paved path that is about three miles, but there are hiking options for a longer walk. People bring their dogs, families, and bikes to exercise here, but don’t be fooled: there is lots more to this place than going around in a circle!
There are many other things you can do here besides walking! The calm water and picturesque docks make an excellent fishing opportunity. Trout is deposited fall through spring, and catfish is released in the summers. Permits and equipment are available in the Visitor Center and a fish cleaning station is located near the entrance.
Paddle boats, rowboats, and kayaks can be rented. Be aware that swimming is never permitted and contact with the water is not recommended. Find a pool to beat the summer heat.
Other land activities include biking, roller skating, and rollerblading, but only during certain days and times. Skate boards are not permitted at any time.
Various hiking options take you off the paved road and into the hills. The Rim Trail adds 4.9 miles to your reservoir loop, but there are many offshoots that connect the longer trek to the paved Lakeside Nature Trail. Bring your own water bottle if you want to explore these extended options...there are a few watering holes on the lower trail and only ONE on the upper trail.
There are 125 picnic tables placed around the reservoir, open to everyone. Forty-four include a barbecue. There are four additional picnic sites available for reservation for anyone planning a larger group activity or party: these sites can fit 75 to 250 people and are available for $100 to $350, depending on location and day of the week. Reservations can be made online or in person at the Visitor Center.
Three of the four reservation spots are located near the playground to the left of the parking lot. This area also has a high concentration of bathrooms, including changing tables and accessible stalls. This is a popular place for outdoor birthday parties in the summer!
Parties at The Rez have built-in fun with the playground and activities, but you can also set up games and activities on the lawn. There are no official rules about the decorations you are allowed, but do try to pick up any balloon trash as there are sometimes ducks or geese looking for food in the grass. Stop by Boswells in Lafayette for all your decorating needs.
Every October, the Lafayette Chamber and the City of Lafayette host a “Lafayette Res Run For Education” that is very family-friendly! Hundreds of runners, parents, kids in strollers, and pets come together to participate in the 10k or the 5k loop through downtown Lafayette, around the reservoir, and back. The event raises money for our local schools and Chamber programs, such as the Lafayette Library and Learning Center.
In case this park didn’t have enough personality for you, locals participate annually in decorating the “Christmas tree” around the holidays. A lovely plum tree about two-thirds of a mile beyond the east of the parking lot gets ornamented by the community. This has been going on for decades, but picked up more steam in the past few years. All ornaments in good condition are donated to senior living facilities after the holidays are over.
The parking lot can accommodate 400+ vehicles, but it does cost $7 to park there for a full day. You can buy an upgraded pass if you attend often, have concerns about mobility, etc. The annual pass varies in price; please check the website directly for accurate information. You can try to get one of the metered spots along the lane bordering the outer parking lot, Depending on your destination, there is a small secondary lot to the right of the main lot. This is ‘annual pass holder’ territory but is a must if you’re accessing the boat launch or throwing a party and can’t huck your stuff in on a wagon.
The best place to park is along Mount Diablo Boulevard. There is almost always free parking, and it takes less than 15 minutes to walk up the path and across the lot. This is where you get that extra butt burn to really feel like you earned your lunch. Of course, you can also bypass parking all together if you take BART to the Lafayette station, located about a mile and a half away.