Ashley Pennington feels as though she landed in paradise. After running a boat rental business on Folsom Lake for the past 15 years, Rollins Lake is a breath of fresh air. The low water level and rowdy crowds at Folsom were what spurred Pennington to search for a better location.
She was surprised to discover that Rollins Lake — just 25 minutes from Roseville — had a spot open for a boat rental business at Long Ravine Campground. In May of 2013, she opened Rollins Lake Rentals.
Since the Nevada Irrigation District has taken over the campground, Pennington says the area is much more family oriented. Not only are boisterous boaters and campers discouraged due to beefed up security, she added, but the lake level stays relatively high until mid-September, unlike many nearby lakes.
“About 25,000 baby rainbow trout were released into the lake about three weeks ago,” said Pennington. “We’ve got lots of wildlife, even bald eagles. You don’t see that at Folsom.”
Pennington grew up on boats in Florida, which made running a boat rental business in California familiar territory. Many of her longtime Folsom customers have followed her up to her new Rollins Lake location.
“My Folsom customers love the trees and greenery around Rollins,” said Pennington. “There are lots of private coves where you can anchor your boat, hang out in the shade and play in the water.”
Rollins Lake Rentals offers eight power boats, four kayaks, two stand-up paddle boards, one rowboat and two aqua-scooters for rent, in addition to toys such as wake boards, waterskis, tubes and more.
Pontoon boats have risen in popularity, said Pennington, and many now have the capacity to pull tubes or wake boards. With a full canopy and easy access, they are also sought out by groups of seniors.
For those wanting a power boat experience, the staff will give refresher courses for those who haven’t driven boats in awhile.
For those who don’t want to drive at all, certified drivers are available.
The company employs local high school and college students during the summer. Pennington’s niece, Kati, has also joined the staff and oversees some aspects of daily operations. A native of Florida, she says she is enjoying the absence of alligators.
At the rental office, located on the launching ramp at Long Ravine Campground, customers will find camping and boating supplies from Interstate boat batteries, as well as sunscreen and more. A bamboo and teak seating area is set up in the shade nearby.
“We like to give our customers specialized attention,” said Pennington. “We’re there to help them load the boat, unload and land. Our goal is to make sure customers have a great time.”
In addition to a Beach Hut Deli and general store near the boat rental area, Rollins Lake Rentals will work with caterers for larger events.
Of her 15 years renting boats at Folsom Lake, Pennington spent seven also overseeing food service at the lake’s Granite Beach.
Rollins Lake has 35 miles of shoreline, four campgrounds, an inn and several waterfront home rentals. Renting boats only enhances the experience, said Pennington.
“We want to be associated with families — that’s our focus,” she said. “It’s fun to see people enjoying themselves on vacation, and we want to make it special. They come off the water at the end of the day and leave happy as larks. When you’re on the water, you just can’t be stressed out.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com or call 530-477-4203.