Recreation Overview

  • There are 289 Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) project areas that have developed recreation facilities and opportunities available for public use.  Over 100 are managed by a Federal recreation partner.
  • Reclamation has approximately 6.5 million acres of land and water, most of which is available for public outdoor recreation. 
  • The 187 developed recreation areas managed by Reclamation or a non-Federal recreation partner draw over 24 million visits annually. 
  • The 187 developed recreation areas provide 549 campgrounds, 454 boat launch ramps, more than 5500 miles of shoreline, and over 12,000 recreation vehicle/trailer sites, including over 5700 with hookups.
  • There are over 500 designated Reclamation day use areas with facilities that include picnic sites and shade shelters. These areas accommodate activities such as hiking, fishing, educational interpretation programs, water sports, and wildlife viewing. 
  • There are some Reclamation project areas that do not have developed recreation facilities for public use; however, dispersed recreational opportunities such as hiking, photography, wildlife viewing, and fishing may be available in such areas.
  • In the absence of project-specific legislation or a managing partner, Reclamation is limited by the Federal Water Project Recreation Act of 1965, Public Law 89-72, to provide only “minimum basic” facilities.  Only a limited number of Reclamation managed projects have site-specific authority to plan, develop, and manage recreation facilities and improvements.
  • It is Reclamation’s goal to seek other Federal and non-Federal entities to manage recreation on project lands.  As a result, there are 64 non-Federal partners comprised mostly of state, county, and city governments that manage 156 of Reclamation’s developed recreation areas.
  • One hundred-two (102) of Reclamation’s initially developed recreation areas have been transferred to other Federal agencies.  These areas are currently managed by the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
  • NPS and USFS manage 12 developed recreation areas designated as National Recreation Areas.  The FWS manages 11 areas designated as National Wildlife Refuges, which also provide valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife species. 
  • Reclamation solely manages 31 of the 187 developed recreation areas.
  • There are approximately 115 concessionaires at the 187 developed recreation areas.  These concession operations offer a variety of outdoor facilities and services to the general public including marinas, campgrounds, lodging, food service, and rental equipment.




Last Updated: 2/14/22