Heading to the Surf Ranch? Here’s your complete guide to the area surrounding Kelly Slater’s wave pool.
This post is brought to you by The Lemoore Surfing Club.
History of Lemoore
Lemoore was first inhabited by the Tachi tribe thousands of years ago on the shore of the now dried up Tulare Lake. The lake was the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Tulare Lake and the surrounding wetlands was filled with birds, turtles, deer, elk and antelope.
Late 19th century settlers started using the lake water for agriculture and the government dammed up the tributary rivers for irrigation and municipal uses. By the early 20th century, Tulare Lake was almost dry.
In modern day, the dried up lake bed’s fertile soil now makes the Central Valley the most productive agricultural region in the United States. As for the Tachi Tribe, which at one point numbered 70,000 people living off the lake, were given a reservation in 1934 and today is the site of The Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino (more on this later) that was opened in 1983.
How to Get To Lemoore
Lemoore is within striking distance of both San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s about a 3.5 hour from either city. You take the 5 most of the way and take either the 41 east (from the south) or the 198 east (from the north) for about 45 minutes.
Fresno airport is 37 miles away and there are some flights that go there. There are a couple smaller airports nearby, so if you have a private jet you can land there. Email us if you do, we’ll join the ride.
The Surf Ranch and Surroundings
The first time we drove from San Francisco, Google Maps actually took us past the Surf Ranch, which is located on 18556 Jackson Ave, Lemoore, CA 93245. The first time we laid eyes on it, we were struck by how big the facility is. Also, there is a huge parcel of land to the west that the pool could be the site for future expansion. To the east, is an abandoned golf course that was named The Pheonix Sunrise located on 14868 18th Ave. Kelly Slater bought the adjacent golf course in 2016 and transferred it to the WSL in 2017.
When we went to the Wave Pool, for the Founder’s Cup, it reminded of us of the early days of the Coachella Music Festival. Hot, dusty, a little disorganized, but once we got dropped off at the entrance, and walked about half a mile through a dirt parking lot (I’m sure that will be paved soon) we entered on the north-east side.
The pool is far larger than it looks from pictures and videos. You can barely see who is sitting in the water from the far end of the pool. The jumbo trons are helpful. As a viewing experience, there are definitely kinks to be worked out. The beer lines were outrageously long. No cash accepted. The wifi kicked out while we were getting beers and the whole system went down.
There are definitely kinks to work out but this is just version 1.0. There’s actually another pool on the premises and plans for much more.
The Tachi Palace Casino and Hotel
The Tachi Palace is ground zero for fun in Lemoore (besides the pool). If you can get a room, it’s definitely the best place to stay in Lemoore. Beers are cheap by casino standards at $4 for a Budweiser and you can rub shoulders with the surfing greats playing blackjack. We saw Fanning, Parko, Taylor Steele, Steph Gilmore and Medina all within an hour playing on the tables.
We’ve actually never set foot in a room but judging by the casino, we’d expect clean rooms. Rates for a single room start at $149 for a one night weekday stay and $249 for a weekend. Food options are fairly limited at the Tachi. There is a Pizza Hut, a seafood buffet and The Coyote Grill all within the casino.
As said before, there are shuttles running to The Surf Ranch during large events, otherwise you can Uber from the Tachi. It’s technically within walking distance (2.5 miles) and we did after drinking a couple beers one day. It wasn’t too bad. Just don’t turn east after exiting the Casino grounds. The bartender said there are big, territorial dogs ready to attack.
More to come.