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Our Go Back Vacation Place at Convict Lake, CA

Updated on January 26, 2017
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Family Vacation Spot at Convict Lake

There is a locale that has a special place in our family's hearts. A tucked away blue lake surrounded by high, very high stone mountains, not many trees. Twice a day you witness a line of horseback riders going up one side of the lake. That is a hint of things hidden even further into the stony mountains, but you are probably just at the side of the lake with your fishing pole.

The lake is dark blue and cold, so swimming is not an option, except for the hardy. Trout can be snatched if you work it just right, pan fried later in the iron skillet on the Coleman stove in butter, garlic and onion. There are favorite spots called the swimming hole, the cliffs, the store, and the bridge.

As the children get older they have to tell their friends about this place. They take off and go without me. Renewing the soothing activities again with new hearts that also find a place in them for Convict Lake, so named for a shootout in 1871. Guns blazing and the outcome not so sweet as camping.

Whoooa! Wake up you are sitting at your computer. Oh, but I want to be back at Convict Lake. I am even thinking of not using the name as a keyword because it is My place.


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Where is Convict Lake

Convict Lake is in the eastern Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Nevada mountains run up the eastern side of California for more than four hundred miles. The drive is 325 miles from our house and it is the high desert and hot. The temperature is always in the 90's so air conditioning in your vehicle is a plus. In later years we had a trailer and the trip took about six hours. Half the highway was twoway most of the trip. It is gradually getting widen to a split four lane highway. You can reach Convict Lake by Hwy 395.

Getting there offers views of high desert wilderness, small towns and sparsely populated wide open spaces. Something that just baffles me because I live in greater southern California home of millions. L.A. is 10 million alone with sprawl of hundreds of miles. I envy anyone who lives in the rural world.

So as our family was growing, nearly every year during the summer months, we took a vacation to the Mammoth area. I had known this area because I went skiing there several times, but my husband introduced the eastern Sierra to me in the summer.

He was a fisherman and had been there many times already. Above, the fisherman making his flies at the evening camp table at Convict Lake near the town of Mammoth Lakes.

Located in California


For the geology buff or student the Mammoth area is loaded with hot spots and interesting volcanic formations. The mountains behind the lake were carved by glaciers the arms of the ice reaching toward Hwy 395. As they receded they left moraines the formations that look like flows. The road climbs through these hills to get to the base of the lake, road's end, to an elevation of 7,580 ft.

You can also see Convict Creek along which the campground is situated. Read more about the moraines at Convict Lake Moraines

Directly across the Hwy is Mammoth Airport which only accepts small planes. Further north you can see the Long Caldera. Hot Creek or Whitmore Hot Springs are located there.

Behind the lake is the John Muir Wilderness Area. Looking on a map, note all the dots, high mountain alpine lakes. The first set of Lakes about 2,000 ft. above Convict are Dorothy, Edith, Mildred and Constance Lakes. Go deeper into the wilderness area you find Tully Hole, Bloody Mtn, Brave Lake, Lake of the Lone Indian, Graveyard Lakes and Devil's Bathtub. Going deeper in the wilderness the lakes get ominous names.

I have never been there.

Sunrise at the Campground

photo credit: Vijayan
photo credit: Vijayan

A Few of Our Old Pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size
East Side of Convict Lake at the beach.At the fishing hole along Convict Creek.Along the campground road at the south end.
East Side of Convict Lake at the beach.
East Side of Convict Lake at the beach.
At the fishing hole along Convict Creek.
At the fishing hole along Convict Creek.
Along the campground road at the south end.
Along the campground road at the south end.
image: Sherry Venegas
image: Sherry Venegas

What's in the Name?

The Resort at Convict Lake has a comprehensive new website that includes everything you may want to do at the lake. Map of the campground shows our favorites sites 41 thru 51 where we camped for over 10 years. Last time we were there we camped at site number 72. View from site 72 at right.

Information for weddings at the 4 star restaurant, resort cabins, boat rentals general store and horseback riding. All the fishing schedules are included.

Also at this website is the whole story that occurred in 1871 and led to the name of Convict Lake.

What's in the name?

Photo by Sherry Venegas

Have You Been to Convict Lake? - Stormy Day 1987

Image by Ed Venegas
Image by Ed Venegas

Photo by Ed Venegas. Digitally enhanced by Sherry

Have you been to Convict Lake?

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Convict Lake 1972

image by Edward Venegas
image by Edward Venegas

The tall tree at the foot of the lake is still standing.

Photo by Edward Venegas

What Was Interesting at Convict Lake in 2013

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A red plant growing in the creek.An aspen meadow receives messages from countless young campers. I did not notice the red bead till the images were on the computer.Almost every campsite has a pet dog in 2013.  I found a tiny short-tailed mole that may have met a dog.
A red plant growing in the creek.
A red plant growing in the creek.
An aspen meadow receives messages from countless young campers. I did not notice the red bead till the images were on the computer.
An aspen meadow receives messages from countless young campers. I did not notice the red bead till the images were on the computer.
Almost every campsite has a pet dog in 2013.  I found a tiny short-tailed mole that may have met a dog.
Almost every campsite has a pet dog in 2013. I found a tiny short-tailed mole that may have met a dog.

I have our week reserved for 2014. I will have digital photos just for this lens. Come back and see 2014 photos in August.

ps. In 2013 the campsites were open for first come the third week of August. The school year starting in August is different than when my kids were in school.

© 2009 Sherry Venegas

Sierra Nevada Mountains Home of Convict Lake. You will not be disappointed.

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    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 2 years ago

      I am so envious of your vacation spot! :) Convict Lake looks to be very much my kind of place to relax and explore. I've always wanted to visit the Sierra Nevada mountains, but it's hard to get much further away from my home without leaving North America, so I shall have to enjoy it vicariously through you. Looking forward to seeing your 2014 pictures!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 2 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      What an absolutely beautiful spot. I know you will have an amazing vacation

    • profile image

      longlakelifestyle 3 years ago

      Have to admit, the name's kinda shady - but hey, what is in a name?

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      This looks a lovely place to visit, I can see why your family loves it.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      OH my!!!! Not yet been there, but yet, somehow, I feel like I HAVE been there. Such beautiful sunrises there!

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