The New Melones Reservoir was created in 1980 by a dam across the Stanislaus River that inundated the river valley and the world-class whitewater rapids on the river. Very controversial at the time, approval for the dam took many years and was fought by Friends of the River and other conservation organizations. Since then, the lake has rarely been close to full and in 2016 was just 15% of capacity. Because of the low water level in recent years, boating activity on the lake has diminished and visitor activity in Tuttletown Recreation Area is low. In spite of this, there is a lot to like about the area. The lightly-used campgrounds are modern and well-maintained, and there are many hiking trails that wind above the lake and offer great views and solitude.
The Heron Point Trail makes a wonderful loop starting at either the Acorn Campground or the Heron Point Day Use Area. There are great views of the lake and surrounding hills. The trail is fairly flat, and depending on water level, there are many points of land to explore that are not accessible when the lake is higher. Fall and spring are the times to visit here, as the summers are brutally hot and the winters generally rainy.