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The Comprehensive Guide To Shasta, A Top 5 College Party Experience

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guide to shasta lake how to shasta advice shasta

Every major conference in the country has their own traditions and celebrations. In the Pac-12, we have Shasta, a legendary gathering where hundreds of fraternities and sororities from up and down the “Best Coast” congregate on an armada of houseboats and run free in a glorious, lawless depravity that includes birthday suits, heavy drinking, and horse masks.

It’s life-changing, and it’s ours.

Now, I’ve been making my way to the famous lake every May for many years, and in that time, I’ve picked up some valuable tricks of the trade and a few other things along the way. Luckily, most of those things can be cured with a vigorous round of antibiotics.

Going to Shasta this year? Good. Here’s an early cheat sheet for the May weekend.

1. For the love of all things holy, leave your shoes at the door

The number one reason people get their anal cavities penetrated (in the fiscal sense) over that hefty deposit is the vibrant red Shasta mud. Yes, it sounds like it should be a gentle, warming blues song. No, it’s actually clothes-ruining, unclean-able hell-spunk that stains your boat shoes, the laminate in the houseboat, and your very soul. Ever wonder why the houseboat companies require an extra $3000 day-of deposit in cash for “May Weekends?” This is it.


During the nights, when everyone is drunk, you’ll probably forget; but having people on the same page is a good first step. If you want to take it even further, you can save hours of annoying labor on Sunday morning and possibly hundreds of dollars by having a dedicated sober door monitor hang out by the grill on the front deck. Get a pledge, or give three “scholarships” to brothers wherein they get to come for free if they prevent mudageddon.

2. Find a 25-year-old

The downside of this tip is that it requires you to hang out with an old person. The upside is that it cuts your Shasta costs almost in half. Certain resorts will rent higher quality boats for much lower prices if your captain is 25+. Jones Valley and Antlers are great examples of this. You can get a triple-decker with a hot tub from Antlers for around $2,354 vs $4,090 from the highway robbers at Silverthorn.

One warning if you go for Antlers: they are by far the cheapest on the lake, but it takes about 2-3 hours and $50 gas to get to Slaughter Island from their marina, and if the lake is really low, you may not be able to reach it at all.

Jones Valley used to be a lot better for this, and they still rent the most luxurious boats on the lake, but the owners must have gotten wise, because the rates are now about equal with Silverthorn and both are looking for that large additional deposit. Still, Jones is the only place you can get the Titan, a million dollar ass-pulverizing super yacht of a houseboat if your chapter balls enough to drop $10K on the rental and deposit.

3. Pay for the damage waiver

Another thing that ends in absolute disaster for your group is if you somehow damage the houseboat’s propeller. God have mercy on you if you wreck this freaking thing, because you’re on the hook for up to $30K. With all the beaching you’re going to be doing, and the high possibility of boat-to-boat collisions, you really can’t afford to pass this option up. Resorts that offer it usually charge $20 a day. Build it into your trip cost.

Every year I see somebody sink a houseboat or set one on fire. Even if you escape the criminal charges, these poor bastards are possibly looking at a damage fee equal to their college tuition. The houseboat companies buy very high deductibles on their boats.

4. Pick your rations wisely

The most money I ever wasted on Shasta was when I bought too much food.

When you’re out on the lake, drinking for 8-12 hours a day straight, you actually don’t get all that hungry. Plus, if you’re on a full boat, there’s realistically never enough fridge space for perishables.

Here’s the play:

2-3 Winco or Safeway Super Subs (the huge ones in the deli) at around $6 a piece

1-2 large bags of chips, pretzels, or Chex Mix

5 gallons of clean water

That’s it. That’s literally all you need to survive. The subs don’t take up much space and aren’t as perishable as hot dogs or frozen food. They’re also super filling and nutrient dense, with lots of carbs to get you through this marathon of boozing.

Now you can spend the rest of your cash on alcohol. You’re welcome.

5. Pack rehydration supplies

Like I alluded to above, Shasta is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to be able to rehydrate yourself or you’re going to get very sick very fast and possibly even risk death. Pedialite is always a good choice, or a heavier duty option like Drip Drop, which has saved me from life-ruining hangovers more times than I can count. Keeping everyone’s electrolytes high is a great way to make sure your crew stays happy and nausea-free.

6. Other advice

I’m just going to rattle these last ones off:

A) Bring lots of lights with which to decorate your boat. Be seen, show off, and make it easier for people to find their way back after exploring Slaughter Island.

B) Also bring a small but sturdy inflatable canoe to shuttle people in if needed. If you’re picking up and dropping off people at the public dock by Slaughter, you can beat the glut by not having to actually moor.

C) Beach at Slaughter before dusk and leave at dawn. Getting there early guarantees you a spot at the bonfire. Leaving before everyone else protects you from that old urban myth about “last boat cleans up the island.” And if you do get stuck cleaning up, don’t be a dick about it.

D) Pack something warm and waterproof in case the weather turns nasty. Shasta in 60 degrees and rain is the freaking worst, and bad weather is becoming more common there.

E) Finally, don’t run the generator all the time. Watch the amp meter closely and make sure to run it for about 30 minutes before everyone passes out so you don’t need a jump in the morning. During the day, though, that puppy should be silent. You’ll save a lot of gas money this way.

Hopefully knowing some of his stuff can help reduce your “rookie moves” at the biggest party in the West.

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Doctor Franzia

*Not qualified to practice medicine*

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