Bass Lake is one of the most popular vacation spots in Central California.The lake was created back in 1899. It was enlarged 6 years later, and work on the present dam began in 1909. At 3,500 feet in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, the 4-mile long lake is on the north fork of Willow Creek which is a tributary of the San Joaquin River. Its waters turn powerful, electricity-producing turbine engines for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the world’s largest non-government utility. Because of its altitude, it’s not unusual for Bass Lake to have snow on the ground for several weeks during the winter–not tons of snow…but enough snow to carry chains in your trunk…and, as locals put it, enough snow to be beautiful but not bothersome.
Bass Lake is popular for all of the right reasons. It’s close to California’s Central Valley (1 hour from Fresno) via Highway 41 and only 20 minutes from Yosemite. Nature lovers appreciate the lake, and so do fishermen–it’s stocked with trout, bass, salmon, catfish, crappie and bluegill. Water skiers appreciate the warm water–75 to 78 degrees in the summer. The lake has excellent marina facilities.
Camping is popular too. Part of the Sierra National Forest, there are 4 area campgrounds with a total of 239 camping units. The basic daily use fee is $15; reservations are required and can be made by calling 1-800-280-CAMP. Call at least a week ahead of time, but no more than six months. You can camp for a maximum of 10 days. For day users there are picnic tables and fireplaces–43 such sites.
Additionally, Bass Lake has cabin and home rentals, motels, hotels & resorts. The lake’s largest and most complete resort (rooms, suites, restaurant-on-the-lake & more) is The Pines Resort and Conference Center. Watercraft rentals including ski boats, wave runners and party barges are available.
Bass Lake has various year-round activities. Among them are the $10,000 spring fishing tournament. During the 4th of July, Bass Lake is the place to be … the fireworks display attracts thousands from a wide area. Be prepared; it is very crowded during that holiday period.