Bass Lake, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - High Sierra -

Also known as:  Crane Valley Reservoir

Snuggled into the heart of the Sierra National Forest and located at the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake enjoys an ideal California location. This 1165-acre lake has been designated an official Recreation Area by the U.S. Forest Service, with campgrounds and picnic areas on the south shore. The north shore is dotted with private homes and cabins. Bass Lake is a popular destination for water recreation and back-to-nature pursuits.

Until the 19th century, Bass Lake was a quiet stretch of wilderness home to the Mono Tribe and many species of flora and fauna. In 1851, the Mariposa Battalion passed through the area and, upon seeing what they believed to be Sandhill Cranes, named the area Crane Valley. Though the birds were later discovered to be Great Blue Herons, the name stuck. Just 50 years later, in 1901, the San Joaquin Electric Company built the area’s first earthen dam on Willow Creek, a tributary of the San Joaquin River. After years of disrepair and changing hands, the dam was rebuilt in 1910, creating the reservoir we know today. For years, the lake was called Crane Valley Reservoir until a lumber company polluted the lake, killing all the fish. After paying a fine, the company was also ordered to repopulate the reservoir’s fish population – their choice was bass, and this name also stuck.

Although known for its recreation, Bass Lake was created for flood control, hydroelectric power generation, and irrigation water for agriculture. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company controls the reservoir’s water levels. Levels peak during the summer months, with a maximum elevation of 3376 feet above sea level. Starting in September, water is released from the lake, generating electricity, reaching a low elevation of about 3350 feet above sea level in November. Springtime rains begin raising water levels in March and April. The water depths of Bass Lake are difficult to calculate because of fluctuating water levels. When full, average depths range from 20 feet near the west end of the lake, to about 60 feet in the main channel, and to more than 100 feet near the dam at the southeast end. Bass Lake is approximately 4 ½ miles long and ½ mile wide.

Bass Lake boasts beautiful views and a perfect location. Surrounded by Sierra National Forest, the reservoir is quiet and peaceful while still offering a plethora of popular recreational activities. As you drive to the lake, take a long-cut and jump onto the Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway. Over 100 miles of scenic vistas and winding road offer views of dense red fir forests, millennia-old rock formations, towering Giant Sequoias, alpine lakes, and so much more. A trip on the Scenic Byway is not only the perfect way to start your trip, but a fantastic introduction to the greater Bass Lake Area.

The lake itself is packed with things to do, from fishing to swimming to picnicking lakeside, so whatever your tastes, you’re sure to feel satisfied. You may want to begin with a hike; seeing the lake from a different angle may help you decide on an activity itinerary. If not, spending a couple hours out in fresh air and surrounded by beautiful nature will be enough of a prize in its own right. Work your way along the meandering Willow Creek Trail, drinking in views of the loud, cascading Angel Falls. Take a trip through history on the Way of the Mono Trail, complete with guided hiking trail explanations along the way. Take one of two Goat Mountain Trail forks to reach a mountain summit with views that will literally take your breath away. As you’ll soon find out, hiking the beautiful Bass Lake trail offers more than just an opportunity to get your heart rate up.

Nature lovers shouldn’t stop with hiking trails. Bass Lake is comfortably and perfectly placed between two famous nature areas: Yosemite National Park and the Sierra National Forest. With over 2 million acres between them, both the National Park and the National Forest offer incredible views, serene bodies of water, rolling mountains, and myriad opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Take a hike, learn about nature, mountain bike through scenery fit for a postcard, rock climb until your calluses can’t take anymore, and indulge in every winter recreation activity under the sun. Both Yosemite National Park and Sierra National Forest will reach far and beyond your every expectation.

Back at Bass Lake, indulge in some aquatic fun. Rent a power boat and explore the lake’s 1,165 acres, grab a canoe or kayak to lazily explore hidden nooks and crannies, or hop onto a pontoon boat for a leisurely ride around the lake. If you plan to be out for long, pack a picnic and pick your favorite spot to enjoy the blue skies and awesome views. If you’re lucky, you may even see one of the bald eagles that make their home at Bass Lake.

Fishing is one of the reservoir’s favorite pastimes, and anglers love to make memories here. Black crappie, bluegill, brown bullhead, brown trout, channel catfish, green sunfish, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, sockeye salmon, kokanee salmon, white catfish, and yellow perch all swim the Bass Lake depths, and as you patrol the waters, bait your hook with your desired catch in mind. A special treat here at the lake: speed limits are restricted to 5 mph before 8 a.m., so make the mornings your favorite fishing time.

Like a sparkling sapphire jewel, Bass Lake decorates the countryside and complements the emerald greens of Yosemite and the Sierra National Forest. Spending time here will feel like the most relaxing and peaceful thing you’ve ever done, but your days will be as packed as you want them to be. So prepare yourself for sun, fun, and a whole lot of the great outdoors.

Things to do at Bass Lake CA

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Bass Lake CA

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Bullhead
  • Brown Trout
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • White Catfish
  • Yellow Perch

Bass Lake CA Photo Gallery

Bass Lake CA Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Surface Area: 1,165 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,376 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 3,270 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 3,377 feet

Maximum Depth: 100 feet

Water Volume: 45,410 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1910

Drainage Area: 50 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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