Convict Lake is a stunning Eastern Sierra lake located in the Inyo National Forest, near the town of Bishop. The lake is a popular destination for boating, fishing and other water activities.

Convict Lake is an incredible little lake that lies on the less traveled Eastern Sierra and it’s a wonderful treat for anyone wanting to spend a weekend in the mountains. Convict Lake is a beautiful lake that is popular among fishermen, but also a perfect place for summertime camping and hiking. Convict Lake is like no other place in the Eastern Sierra. The lake is surrounded by 3000 foot peaks and dramatic canyons and it’s one of the best lakes in the area. Convict lake is one of those places you can find peace and quiet with beautiful views and wildlife.

Convict Lake, located in the eastern Sierra Nevada, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The lake is home to a variety of wildlife, including brown and rainbow trout, and it is a great place to enjoy hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. In fact, Convict Lake as a whole is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Convict Lake is one of several picturesque lakes in the area, and it is well worth a visit for its breathtaking scenery, lovely turquoise hue, simple accessibility, and range of enjoyable activities. Convict Lake is without a doubt one of California’s most beautiful lakes.

Picture-perfect Convict Lake is situated at the base of high mountain peaks, notably the 12,241-foot Mount Morrison, just south of Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra of California. It’s stunning at any time of day and at every season of the year.

Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisLake must be rescued from the water.

Convict Lake is rectangular in form and slightly under one mile in length, carved by glaciers and situated at approximately 7,850 feet above sea level. Convict Lake is one of the deepest lakes in the region, with parts reaching 140 feet deep.

One of the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes is spend time at Convict Lake, which is also a great place to stop on a Highway 395 road trip. Convict Lake is not only a great day trip location, but it’s also a relaxing and beautiful place to stay for a few days.

Are you planning a trip to this beautiful Eastern Sierra lake? Continue reading to learn about the finest things to do at Convict Lake, as well as our recommendations on where to stay and dine.

CONTENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS Convict Lake’s Interesting History At Convict Lake, there are a variety of things to do. Convict Lake is located near Mammoth Lakes, California. Parking is available at Convict Lake. When visiting Convict Lake, where should you stay? Convict Lake, California Restaurants When is the best time to go to Convict Lake?

Convict Lake’s Interesting History

Paiute Native Americans were aware of Convict Lake. Wit-sa-nap was the name given to it. Monte Diablo was the name given to the area by Europeans when they arrived.

If you’re wondering why the lake is now known as Convict Lake, it was named after a sequence of events that occurred in September 1871.

1628213417_284_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisAny time of day, Convict Lake is breathtaking!

A gang of inmates escaped from Nevada State Prison in Carson City on the 17th of the month. Murderers and rail robbers were among the members of the gang. Part of the gang, headed by serial killer Charlie Jones, set up camp near the lake.

While carrying mail, Billy Poor, a postal rider, came across the camp by happenstance. The prisoners killed Poor because they were afraid he would inform the authorities about their presence.

A posse, enraged by the murder, rushed after the prisoners and met them near Monte Diablo Creek.

Some prisoners were slain in the ensuing firefight, but the posse’s Deputy Mono Jim and Wells Fargo Agent Robert Morrison were also murdered. The remaining fugitives were ultimately apprehended , hanged or killed.

1628213417_124_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisA view of Convict Lake’s blue water.

Monte Diablo Creek and Lake were dubbed Convict Creek and Convict Lake as a result of these occurrences. Mount Morrison is the tallest mountain at the lake, named for Agent Morrison, while Mono Jim Peak is the adjacent lower peak.

The interesting history of the lake is described on an informative plaque near the bridge over Convict Creek.

At Convict Lake, there are a variety of things to do.

Convict Lake is a great place to go boating.

At Convict Lake, the Convict Lake Resort Marina provides boat rentals. During the season, which runs from late April to late October, the marina is open from dawn to sunset. Motor boats and pontoon boats of various sizes are available for hire. You may also bring your own boat to Convict Lake and launch it.

1628213418_572_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisConvict Lake has pontoon boats for hire.

Getting out on the lake is a great way to appreciate Convict Lake’s natural beauty. As we toured the lake on boats, we observed people grilling and sunbathing. At Convict Lake, boat fishing is also a popular pastime.

As we explored Convict Lake on a pontoon boat, we saw a bald eagle perched on a big tree on the beach. The boat we selected featured plush cushioned seats and a covered roof, as well as a nice wind to keep the July heat at bay.

1628213419_465_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisAt Convict Lake, boating is a pleasant pastime.

If you want to spend a couple of hours (or more!) on a boat at Convict Lake, make a reservation ahead of time, or wake up early and come for the first slot of the day: it’s the slot most likely to be open without a reservation.

Convict Lake is a great place to do stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking.

Other fun activities to go out on the water at Convict Lake include kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. While paddling or drifting lazily on the lovely lake, you may take in the magnificent scenery.

1628213420_530_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisOn a lovely summer day, I went kayaking on Convict Lake.

While paddling Convict Lake is a wonderful sport in and of itself, we observed people fishing from kayaks and canoes.

You may rent kayaks or SUP boards at the Convict Lake Resort Marina, or bring your own. Kayaks and paddleboards may be launched from a number of locations around Convict Lake’s shoreline.

Convict Lake has a variety of fish.

At Convict Lake, fishing is a favorite pastime. Anglers have been seen fishing from the beach, float tubes, boats and canoes, and the Convict Creek bridge.

Convict Lake, at 170-acres, is stocked with rainbow, German brown, and brook trout, and is regarded as one of the finest fishing spots in the Eastern Sierra. Even if you don’t catch anything, it’s a beautiful spot to relax with a line!

1628213420_247_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisFrom the beach, a teenage fisherman tries his luck.

Anglers come to Convict Lake to put their skills to the test because of the lengthy fishing season, which begins on the last Saturday in April and ends in mid-November, and easy access. Convict Lake has two fishing derbies each year, one in the spring and the other in the autumn.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is in charge of fishing in Convict Lake. Sport fishing in California requires a fishing license and adherence to California fishing rules.

At a beach, you may swim or catch some rays.

Several beaches along the coast of Convict Lake, including a few that are large and popular for beach activities such as swimming and sunbathing throughout the summer. Water shoes are recommended since the beach is pebbly and rough.

There are also a number of smaller places along Convict Lake’s coastline where you may enter the lake and find a peaceful area to unwind and enjoy the water and sun.

1628213421_134_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisThere are many locations where you may get water.

The two large beaches we observed are on the eastern and southeastern shores, respectively. On the summer afternoons we visited Convict Lake, both beaches were crowded. Arrive early to get excellent locations for the day or to enjoy the water in peace, or come in the afternoons to participate in the bustling activities.

In the summer, bring beach chairs to relax in the shallows with your feet in the cool water, as well as swimwear and towels for a plunge in the beautiful waters. If you want to have a picnic lunch at the lake, there are picnic tables along the east bank and a picnic spot on the south side.

The beautiful, cold waters of Convict Lake are ideal for swimming, whether you stay close to the beach or venture out into deeper water. If you prefer to swim, keep an eye out for fishing lines and hooks, as well as boats.

1628213421_278_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisConvict Lake’s cold, pure waters

Take a walk around the perimeter of Convict Lake on the Convict Lake Trail.

Walking the path along the lake’s edge is one of the most popular activities to do at Convict Lake. Expect to see a number of other hikers on this path throughout the day on nice days.

The Convict Lake Loop Trail is approximately 2.5 miles long and may be hiked clockwise or counterclockwise, starting at the Convict Creek bridge and ending at the boat launch ramp.

1628213422_419_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisThe Convict Lake Loop Trail is a great place to go for a walk.

By Eastern Sierra standards, the Convict Lake beach path is quite level and simple, and we encountered hikers of all ages on the trail when we completed the circle, including seniors and families with small children. You may also simply walk along the eastern shore’s paved section.

The path is quite beautiful, and you may watch for animals and birds while walking, as well as enjoy wildflowers and autumn colors when they are in bloom. When we hiked the path in July, we spotted two bald eagles and a variety of other species. Although the wild roses had finished blooming for the season, red columbines and other wildflowers were still in bloom.

1628213422_773_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisThe circular path along the lake’s edge.

At the other end of the lake, there is a boardwalk that may be difficult, if not impossible, to traverse in early spring when the water level rises due to snow melt. If you’re walking the path during this time, be cautious.

On the Convict Lake circle path, dogs must be on a leash.

Experiencing the Backcountry

From the trailhead at Convict Lake, more daring seasoned hikers may enter the John Muir Wilderness, whether for the day or for longer overnight hiking excursions.

1628213423_347_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisConvict Lake is the starting point for the trail.

Mildred Lake, Lake Dorothy, Lake Genevieve, Lake Edith, and Laurel Lakes are all accessible through the steep and challenging Convict Creek Trail. The first ascent is steep, the terrain is rugged, there are many stream crossings, and parts have been washed away.

You may drive up Laurel Lakes Road to Laurel Lakes and begin your walk from there to the other lakes in the region if you have a 4WD car. You won’t have to struggle with the hard first ascent, and the view is breathtaking.

Permits are required for overnight excursions into the Eastern Sierra backcountry. There is a quota for hiking the Convict Creek Trail, so make your reservations early.

1628213424_135_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisConvict Lake Hiking

At Convict Lake, photograph the sunrise.

Convict Lake is one of the Eastern Sierra’s most beautiful dawn picture locations. The light colors the tops of the mountains behind the lake as the sun rises. The mountains are gradually bathed in light, producing an amazing picture.

Convict Lake’s water looks like glass on calm mornings, reflecting the mountains, boulders, vegetation along the coast, and the odd early morning boat out on the lake.

1628213425_652_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisAt dawn, I photographed Convict Lake.

If a spectacular dawn is in the forecast, get there early to get a prime position for your tripod on the east side of the lake, near the Convict Creek bridge. This is an excellent location for photographing the sun painting the mountains.

While dawn is considered the best time to shoot Convict Lake, it is also a wonderful subject at other times of the day when it is less crowded. Because the water begins rippling as the wind picks up, the sooner you come, the better your pictures will be.

Convict Lake is a great place to go horseback riding.

Want to ride across the Sierra Nevada on a horseback? Rock Creek Packing Station offers horseback rides on the lake at Convict Lake Resort. Beginners and intermediate cyclists will enjoy the two-hour rides.

1628213425_99_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisThe resort provides horseback riding.

Horseback rides depart from the horse corral on the resort’s east side and go along the north shore of Convict Lake. You’ll dismount at Convict Creek at the further end of the lake, in a beautiful meadow, to enjoy an included drink and snack.

In season, two rides are provided on weekdays and three on weekends. To guarantee your place, call the resort ahead of time and make a reservation.

Keep an eye out for bald eagles (and Other Birds)

Bring your binoculars and zoom lens to Convict Lake if you like birdwatching: many species have been seen here, including the magnificent bald eagle.

1628213426_498_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisFrom the circular path, a bald eagle may be observed.

We’ve seen bald eagles on each of our four trips to Convict Lake in July, often more than one. They may be seen soaring over the lake or against the mountains, as well as roosting in the pine trees along the east side. While walking the path or cruising the lake, keep an eye out for the tops of these trees.

1628213427_634_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisFrom the boat, a bald eagle was photographed!

The bald eagle, with its distinctive white face and golden beak, is a beautiful sight that birders flock to see, but you may also spot other species at Convict Lake, particularly if you follow the path around the lake. Brewer’s blackbirds and American robins may be found in abundance.

Mountain chickadees, Clark’s nutcrackers, dark-eyed juncos, warblers, and sparrows, as well as osprey and gulls in season, may all be heard and seen on the path early in the day.

1628213427_81_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisAt Convict Lake, a newborn Brewer’s blackbird

Seek out wildlife.

Mule deer may be seen all around Convict Lake. One morning, we spotted a herd of approximately 10 to 12 mule deer grazing on the hillside near the resort, and one evening, we saw a solitary deer as we went to the resort’s restaurant.

1628213428_257_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisA juvenile mule deer stares directly at the camera.

Squirrels, pine martens, pika, and marmots are among the smaller creatures that may be observed throughout the day. You may spot a black bear here and there, particularly early or late in the day, and mountain lions live in the Convict Lake region.

Although bigger animals generally attempt to avoid people, it is a good idea to study up on wildlife safety if you intend to walk in the region, particularly in the early or late hours.

1628213430_842_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisA vibrant butterfly lands on wildflowers.

In the spring and summer, enjoy the wildflowers.

The coastline of Convict Lake explodes into color in the spring and early summer as various kinds of wildflowers put on a display along the path that around the lake. Wildflowers may bloom late into the summer in certain years.

Around Convict Lake, particularly near the eastern side, we noticed a lot of California wild rose. We only saw hips when we went in July, but it must have been beautiful when the roses were in bloom earlier in the season.

Lots of scarlet columbine, as well as red paintbrush, purple lupine, and pink phlox, were visible. You’ll discover more wildflower types earlier in the season, so bring a wildflower guide and a decent lens if you want to identify and photograph the wildflowers you see.

1628213431_223_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisIn bloom: a beautiful scarlet columbine!

Fall Leaf Colors to Admire

Convict Lake is especially beautiful in the fall. If you come around or around peak, which is usually in early October, the air is crisp and the coastline is ablaze with color.

Willows line the lake’s edge, and there are many aspen trees along the beach as well. Depending on when you come in the autumn, you’ll witness a variety of leaf hues, ranging from brilliant pure yellow to ochre, orange, red, rust, and burgundy.

1628213432_592_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisIn the autumn, Convict Lake is ablaze with color.

The autumn colours at Convict Lake is best seen (and photographed) early in the morning. The colors reflect in the water when it is quiet, adding another level of pleasure.

Dine at the Convict Lake Restaurant.

The Restaurant at Convict Lake is one of Mammoth Lakes’ best fine dining establishments, and with good reason. We ate here twice on our most recent visit to Mammoth Lakes since the cuisine is so excellent.

1628213432_741_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisThe Restaurant at Convict Lake offers a unique dining experience.

Everything we had at the Restaurant at Convict Lake was excellent, but the baked brie en croute starter was our favorite. The duck and beef Wellington, as well as the pasta with Manchego cheese, were outstanding. Unfortunately, we were always so stuffed that we didn’t get to sample the desserts, which are also said to be fantastic.

1628213433_558_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisThe appetizer of baked brie is really wonderful!

Make a reservation a few days ahead of time: the restaurant is popular and was packed each time we visited. The Convict Lake Restaurant serves supper every evening, and there is also a lounge for beverages.

Convict Lake is located near Mammoth Lakes, California.

Convict Lake is one of the Eastern Sierra’s most accessible alpine lakes. A beautiful paved road goes straight up to the edge of the lake, which is situated a few miles south of Mammoth Lakes.

Take US 395 south to Convict Lake Road from Mammoth Lakes and points north (see map). To get to the lake, turn right onto Convict Lake Road and travel two miles.

Take US 395 north until you reach Convict Lake Road, which is just before the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport. Turn left and go approximately two miles to the end of Convict Lake Road.

Although you can’t drive all the way around Convict Lake, you can drive straight up to it and a little distance along the eastern side.

1628213434_631_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisIn July, crimson columbines bloom in Convict Lake.

Parking is available at Convict Lake.

Convict Lake has plenty of parking, although it may be difficult to get a space during the day during peak season. The marina’s parking is directly next to it, and the spaces here tend to fill up quickly.

More day use parking is available along the lake’s east shore road and at the east shore day use parking lot, which also accommodates big vehicles such as RVs and trailers.

1628213434_921_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisFrom the parking area, a view of the lake

Convict Lake offers free parking. Arrive early to ensure a space, particularly during the summer months when the weather is beautiful!

When visiting Convict Lake, where should you stay?

Because Convict Lake is so near to Mammoth Lakes, you may stay there and visit the lake for the day. If the thought of a holiday at Convict Lake appeals to you, you may also stay near the lake.

Convict Lake Campground is available from late April to late October, which coincides with the lake’s fishing season. The campsite is situated along Convict Creek, near to the lake, and is surrounded by beautiful and peaceful surroundings.

1628213435_32_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisConvict Lake is a peaceful location to visit.

There are 88 campsites accessible, with tent, trailer, and RV sites available, but no hookups. The lake may be seen from several of the locations. Make a reservation at well in advance of your visit.

Convict Lake Resort has cabins of all sizes available all year, ranging from modest studios to lodges with several bedrooms. You may make a reservation directly on the resort’s website.

What to Eat in Convict Lake, California

The Restaurant at Convict Lake is a nice dining establishment adjacent to the lake that serves supper. The restaurant serves excellent cuisine in a relaxed setting, and casual clothing is permitted. It is open throughout the year.

During the season, the Aspen Grill is open for breakfast and lunch every day. There are little to no vegetarian choices available.

1628213436_572_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisBeef Wellington is a delectable dish.

You may also bring a picnic lunch to eat at one of the picnic tables along the lake’s edge.

When is the best time to go to Convict Lake?

Convict Lake is lovely in all seasons and may be visited at any time of year. Visit between spring and autumn for the most diverse variety of activities.

1628213436_776_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisSummer hikes around Convict Lake

Once the lake has thawed, come in late spring or early summer to see the wildflowers in their peak along the path that around the lake. Late April marks the start of the fishing season. In the spring, the mountains that surround the lake may still have snow on them, providing for stunning photographs.

You may not see snow on the mountain peaks later in the summer and into early autumn, but when the mountains are devoid of snow, they display beautiful hues and textures, providing a lovely background for the turquoise waters of the lake.

1628213437_808_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisOn a beautiful July day, Convict Lake

Convict Lake provides spectacular autumn foliage in the fall, and the temperature is still usually pleasant for hiking, but you may need to bundle up early or late in the day. The lake’s fishing season lasts until early to mid November.

Convict Lake may be frozen and the surrounding mountains may be covered with snow in the winter, producing a stunningly magnificent sight. In the winter, the path around the lake is not maintained, and many facilities are closed.

1628213438_754_Convict-Lake-Things-to-Do-Travel-Guide-for-ThisConvict Lake is a great place to have a picnic!


Do you want to see more of the Eastern Sierra? Check out some of our other travel guides and articles for the Sierra Nevada and Owens Valley!

Did you find this article to be useful? It’s worth pinning for later use!


Convict Lake is a beautiful lake situated in the Eastern Sierra Mountains of California. The scenic lake is nestled in a beautiful volcanic region accessed by a lovely hike from Twin Lakes and, if you’re feeling adventurous, the nearby McCloud River Trail. To give you an idea of the beauty of this area, here are some photos of the lake from a recent visit…. Read more about convict lake boat rental rates and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Convict Lake open during Covid 19?

Convict Lake is open from November 1st to December 31st.

How long is the hike around Convict Lake?

The hike around Convict Lake is about 2.5 miles long, and takes about an hour to complete.

Is Convict Lake busy?

Convict Lake is a busy place.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • convict lake campground
  • convict lake resort
  • convict lake map
  • convict lake
  • convict lake history
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