With a sweeping vista of Pyramid Lake from its wraparound balcony, Vista del Lago Visitors Center is DWR's largest information center. With the installation of new exhibits currently underway, the center now supports California’s Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum.
Tour guides at the center stand ready to offer personal and school tours. (To arrange for group tours, call the center's number below.)
At Vista del Lago, you may weigh yourself to find how much of you is water, and learn how important water is to all living things. A visitor's journey at the center begins with a Magic Planet spherical screen offering videos developed by the Smithsonian Institute and other science museums. The topics discuss the finite quantity of earth’s water, the effects of climate change and many other water-related issues. Go back in time in the ‘Ancient Water’ exhibit and learn how past civilizations strived to move water to their people. The world-class dioramas in this exhibit will thrill children and adults alike. Then learn about the issues that threaten our water supply in California as well as the many creative ways people are discovering to improve our stewardship of water at the ‘Threats and Innovations’ exhibit.
The center also features a video presentation, projected on a huge topographical map of California, that explains how the state's geography influences where abundant rain and snow fall -- and how water is transported to meet across drier regions.
Through a giant mock pipeline, visitors enter the State Water Project room, where a three-dimensional model depicts all the Project's facilities, including reservoirs and power and pumping plants. Another display illustrates the massive tools used to construct the SWP, the nation's largest state-built water and power development system. The difficulty pumping water up-hill 1,926 feet is made clear with the Pumping Wheel.
Other exhibits include a timeline of California water history and a video "flight" over the entire length of the State Water Project.
No explanation of California water would be complete without discussion of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast. The state's two biggest rivers flow through the Delta before reaching the SWP's first pumping plant. The Delta supplies water to 25 million Californians and roughly three million acres of irrigated farmland. The Delta's fragile environment is troubled by water exports, invasive species, and pollution, among other threats. Declining fish and wildlife populations in the Delta jeopardize the reliability of the water supplies upon which much of California's economy depends.
At Vista del Lago, visitors can also learn about the 29 public water agencies that receive State Water Project supplies. Their customers pay the costs of constructing, operating, and maintaining the Project.
The Vista del Lago Visitors Center, open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day, is located on Interstate Highway 5 between the cities of Castaic and Gorman. There is a Vista del Lago off-ramp, north and south. For more information, call (661) 294-0219.