Diamond Valley Lake

Diamond Valley Lake

Metropolitan built Diamond Valley Lake as a promise for the future. The vast reservoir, nestled between two hillsides, plays a vital role in how we manage and deliver drinking water. By storing up to six months together with all of our storage accounts of emergency supplies, the reservoir serves as a critical lifeline, helping Southern California get through dry times and catastrophes. It also provides important habitat for plants and animals and popular recreational amenities for the community.

Diamond Valley Lake serves as an indispensable asset, one that reflects Metropolitan’s commitment to water reliability, environmental stewardship, and a climate resilient future for Southern California.

A Lasting Achievement 

Diamond Valley Lake’s story is one of thoughtful planning and foresight. Its construction during the late 1990s marked a bold and historic achievement for Metropolitan. Since then, the reservoir has been instrumental in carrying us through challenging water scenarios, including several multi-year droughts. The reservoir was built to hold enough water to serve nearly 2.4 million Southern California families for a year. It stores up to 810,000 acre-feet of water (264 billion gallons), nearly doubling the region’s prior surface water storage capacity when it became operational.  

Diamond Valley Lake's Forebay facilities
Scenic view of the Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet.
A close-up view of a gecko species with blue scales on its neck that's found near Diamond Valley Lake

Environmental Benefits  

The reservoir is home to natural habitat areas that protect wildlife and ecosystems. Two large nature reserves nearby provide a model for how infrastructure can be built in harmony with nature. The reservoir’s development marked a significant precedent for public/private partnerships and raised environmental protection to a new level by focusing on entire ecosystems rather than individual habitats.
Read more about Metropolitan Multi-species Habitat Preservation and Protection Program. 

Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve

  • About 14,000 acres of open space have been preserved within the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve surrounding and connecting Diamond Valley Lake with Lake Skinner. 
  • With creation of the reserve, Metropolitan helped forge California's first agreement for multi-species protection.  
  • The reserve is home to at least eight types of habitat and many sensitive bird, animal and plant species.  
  • The reserve contains more than 30 miles of biking, hiking and equestrian trails.  

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve 

  • The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve contains some of Southern California's last vernal pools that support fairy shrimp, wintering waterfowl and spring wildflowers.  
  • Metropolitan joined Riverside County, the California Wildlife Conservation Board and the Nature Conservancy to purchase and protect 6,800 acres.  
  • The effort helped preserve valuable lands while also securing approvals to develop Diamond Valley Lake to help forge a dependable water supply for Southern California. 
  • The reserve has a network of multi-use trails, a comprehensive interpretative program, and a visitor center. Click here for more information. 

Recreational Opportunities & Challenges

Diamond Valley Lake provides high-quality recreational opportunities that allow for the continued protection of our drinking water supply and function in harmony with the natural environment. There are an array of recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and sailing, as well as adjacent multi-purpose trails, bike paths, and public park facilities. Amenities include 2.5 miles of shoreline fishing, a marina and concession area, and park facilities. 

Check here for more general information about the marina and recreation.  

A person fishing from a boat at sunrise on Diamond Valley Lake
A cluster of quagga mussels held by a person out of water

Visitor Information

Diamond Valley Lake Marina

Located at the eastern end of the lake, the marina and concession area offer boat rentals and fishing supplies. Check here for more information. Click here for hours and fees.

Recreational Facilities

Adjacent to the reservoir is an aquatic center and community park operated by the Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District. Swimming, sports fields, fitness trails and picnic areas are available.


Panoramic views can be found at the Clayton A. Record, Jr. Viewpoint.  The Viewpoint offers free admission and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. It is closed Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Viewpoint honors Clayton A. Record, Jr., a fourth generation San Jacinto native who was a dairy farmer, successful businessman and distinguished elected official and community leader, who helped develop regional water policy as Eastern Municipal Water District’s representative on Metropolitan’s board, where he also served as vice chairman. 

Clayton Record's plaque at a viewpoint on the coast of Diamond Valley Lake

Surrounding Hills & Trails

Diamond Valley Lake’s trails provide access to extraordinary landscapes, views, and seasonal gifts of nature. Hikers, cyclists and equestrians can enjoy a substantial trail system for hiking, cycling and horseback riding through the hills surrounding the reservoir.

Aerial view of the North Hills Trails

North Hills Trail

  • 5.9-mile, multi-use trail runs along the north hills overlooking the San Jacinto Valley
  • Open to hikers and equestrians year-round
  • See map for east and west trailhead access
A hawk spotted at the Lakeview trail

Lakeview Trail

  • 21.8-mile route circling the lake for hikers and cyclists
  • Passes along three dams, with views of the reservoir and quarry where rock used to build the dams was mined
  • Open year-round
  • Trailhead access at the Marina, 2615 Angler Ave., Hemet, CA. See map
A purple wildflower found at the Wildflower Trail

Wildflower Trail

  • 1.3-mile loop extending from the Lakeview Trail. Open only during springtime wildflower bloom season. See flower guide and map
  • Trailhead access at the Marina, 2615 Angler Ave., Hemet, CA
  • Parking and trail fees apply  

Construction Notables

The construction of DVL’s Don Owen West dam, Carl Boronkay East dam and Saddle dams represented one of the largest earthwork projects in the nation. It took place between 1995 and 2000 and involved a foundation excavation of more than 40 million cubic yards of earth and 110 million cubic yards for embankment construction. A literal mountain of rock was moved from the south rim of the reservoir and placed across the valley floor to form two dams, one 2.1 miles long, the other 1.5 miles long, at each end of the 4.5 mile valley. Materials for the earth-core rock fill dams were all sourced within the project boundary. There were two rock processing plants set up for the project and together, their production exceeded the capability of any single commercial processing operation in California. The construction equipment used shovels, loaders and trucks were the largest available in the industry and set a new standard for earth and rock movement.


Making & Preserving History

Development of DVL was grounded in our commitment to serving customers and protecting the environment. Along the way came remarkable historical discoveries. For seven years, two-person paleontology teams worked at opposite ends of the valley for 10-hour shifts, 20-hour days, six days a week, following massive earth-moving equipment. They would find, what many experts consider, a collection of fossils to rival the famous La Brea Tar Pits.  The area was called, “The Valley of the Mastodons.” One of the more famous discoveries was Max the Mastodon. More than two decades after the discovery, it was determined that Max was the first new mastodon species named in more than 50 years from North America (Mammut pacificus, the Pacific mastodon). During excavation, bones and skeletons were found from extinct mastodons and also mammoth, camel, sloth, dire wolf and long-horned bison. 

Read more about Max 

Read DVL: At A Glance fact sheet 

Archeologists conducting fossil excavations at the Western Science Center