Getting the most out of campus: Sacramento State Aquatics Center

Marisa Hildebrand

With Jack Johnson humming in the background and all sounds from the freeway drowned by the hills, the Sacramento State Aquatics Center at Lake Natoma exudes relaxation.

Tuesday makes for a quiet afternoon at the center. Only a few people can be seen paddling out into the lake on the left, and distant cheers from a small group of team-building participants can be heard from the obstacle course on the docks to the right.

Few Sac State students know of this gem, but the general public has surely taken advantage of this hidden oasis.

Students and the general public can rent everything from kayaks and paddleboards to hydrobikes, and students get a discount by bringing their One Card.

For students seeking more of an adrenaline rush, the Aquatics Center has a competitive wakeboarding and waterskiing club. Members of the club are selected to represent Sac State in spring semester for competition.

The center even offers lessons in sailing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding and many more water sports for students just starting out. These lessons can be private or split between up to four people to get the best deal–saving students up to $55.

Sophomore nursing student Kylie Taylor works at the Aquatics Center and wants to join the crew team this year. She said the center was packed during Labor Day but has significantly slowed down with the start of school. 

“The summer is the busiest time: so Labor Day weekend and Fourth of July weekend [are busiest],” Taylor said.

Surprisingly, the center was not drastically affected by the drought.

Taylor said the waterskiing, wakeboarding and jetskiing on Folsom Lake have been forced to stop for most of the summer, but the rentals at Lake Natomas have continued strong.

“We actually haven’t been too affected, because we are between the two dams, so it’s actually pretty regulated at Lake Natoma, but Folsom is just really low,” Taylor said.

There are still plenty of activities and rentals available on Lake Natoma.

Taylor said renters can take their kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards about 5 to 6 miles up the lake before required to turn around because there is no direct access to Folsom Lake. She said the paddle still takes a couple hours on the water, which will give quite the workout.

Weston Landre is a California State Parks lifeguard and is one of the dock masters at the center.

He said there were about 1,200 renters packing the center on Labor Day, but a Tuesday in September is expected to be slow.

“It usually starts livening up around 5 o’clock when people get off work,” Landre said.

Most of the renters in the center, he said, are general public, not students.

Junior public relations major Holly Gamboa said she has never been to the Aquatics Center.

“I actually heard something about that at Lake Natoma, like, we get a discount,” Gamboa said. “I wanna do it. I would go up there.”

The center is only 15 minutes east of Sac State, and Regional Transit will take students there from campus.

With all of the open space on the lake this time of year, this is the perfect time explore without crowds. The Aquatics Center is open year-round, and there are plenty of rentals and lifejackets available for students to venture out.