If you and your family are looking forward to exploring the great outdoors this summer, then look no further than Bass Lake! In fact, the John Candy film The Great Outdoors was actually filmed here. Named one of the West’s best lakes by Sunset Magazine, Bass Lake offers plenty of boating, water sports, camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, bird watching and more. Come enjoy the warm water, scenic views, and outdoor activities that have had families returning to Bass Lake each summer for generations.
Events • Water Sports • Camping • Hiking • Fishing • Swimming • Bird Watching • Yosemite
Boating and Watersports
This four-mile-long lake is a popular spot for patio boating, jet skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, paddleboarding and wave running. The lake’s warm temperature (the water is in the mid to high 70s in the summer) makes it the perfect spot for wave running and jet skiing.
There are several great campsites located right off the lake. And those interested in camping among the cedars and pines of the Sierras have some options to choose from, as well. Not interested in camping overnight? Head to one of the numerous picnic and day use areas and get a BBQ going, or cook up some of the fish you caught on the lake.
Note: Bass Lake is pet friendly, so you won’t have to leave the dog at home! But please make sure to clean up after your dog and keep it away from the Bass Lake wildlife.
Bass Lake has several scenic trails, most of which are appropriate for the whole family to enjoy. There are also a couple steeper, more challenging trails for the seasoned hikers out there. So enjoy a hike among the pines, check out a waterfall, and cool off afterward with a dip in the lake.
Note: Northeast of the lake you can find great trails for mountain bikers, too. Make sure not to miss the amazing view at Shuteye Peak.
Fishing enthusiasts have a wide variety of fish to choose from here, including: Bass (of course), freshwater Salmon (Kokanee), Crappie, Trout, Catfish, Sunfish and Perch. There is a 5 mph speed limit on the lake until 8 am, so you can get in a few hours of relaxing fishing before the lake starts to fill up with other boats. If you aren’t confident in your fishing skills, or you would like someone to help teach your kids, several establishments offer guided tours with experienced fishermen.
Did we mention the warm water? There are two designated swimming areas near Bass Lake, and you can swim in between the shore and the 5 mph marker buoys. Please be mindful of the boats as you swim.
Bass Lake and the Sierras are home to a number of impressive birds, including golden eagles and great blue herons. Here are the birds the USFS says to be on the lookout for by the lake and in the surrounding forest:
Water Birds: great blue heron, California gull, sandpiper, golden eagle, osprey, American dipper, mallard, Canadian goose
Forest/Meadow Birds: Red-tailed hawk, woodpecker, chickadee, hummingbird, great horned owl, dark-eyed junco, American robin, mountain quail, blue jay, flicker, raven, blackbird
Did You Know? Bass Lake used to be called Crane Valley and Crane Valley Reservoir, because when the Mariposa Battalion came upon it in the 1850s, they mistook the majestic great blue herons here for sandhill cranes.
Bass Lake is located just 15 miles from the South Gate entrance to Yosemite National Park, making it an excellent vacation stop on your way to Yosemite. Yosemite offers an abundance of camping, hiking and sightseeing opportunities, and is home to some of the most beautiful views you will ever see. It’s the most popular national park in California.
Note: It takes over an hour to get from Bass Lake to the actual valley floor of Yosemite, so plan your trip accordingly.