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SUMMERTIME : Discoveries : If you've exhausted the usual tourist spots, here are some destinations off the beaten path. : Castaic Dam Rest Stop

June 26, 1992|DAVID COLKER

The Castaic Dam Visitors Center is probably not worth a special trip. But if you are in the Castaic Lake area to indulge in water sports or just happen to be passing through on the Golden State Freeway, the center makes for a pleasant rest stop.

Situated on a cliff high above the man-made lake, the center is an isolated, wooden building at the edge of the Angeles National Forest. Inside, a variety of displays highlight the State Water Project, a huge undertaking begun in 1957 to bring water from mountain runoffs and lakes in Northern California to the southern part of the state. At the heart of that project is the 444-mile California Aqueduct--Castaic is the terminus of the aqueduct's western branch, which provides water to the San Fernando Valley, among other areas.

The displays include some impressive photographs of dams, power plants and pumping stations. But all in all, the exhibit is a bit on the dry side.

The best part of the visitors center is the spectacular view it affords of the lake, Castaic Dam, Elderberry Forebay Dam and the surge tank above the Castaic power plant. You can take in the panorama from the center's observation deck or from outside where there are a couple of picnic tables for bring-your-own al fresco dining.

The Castaic Dam Visitors Center is on Lake View Road off the Golden State Freeway. Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Free. Information: (805) 257-3610, eExt. 231.

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