Imagine spending a day boating on the surface of bright blue waters while grand mountain peaks surround you. If that sounds like the ideal vacation to you, then you need to visit the gorgeous Convict Lake near Mammoth Lakes, California. This lake is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Eastern Sierras and it’s no wonder hundreds of people visit every year. Spend a weekend enjoying the Convict Lake camping sites and all the activities there!
I have now camped at hundreds of locations around the US and Convict Lake was one of my favorites by far! There’s nothing like watching the sunset over the serene blue waters of this magnificent lake, while enjoying your camp spot up the hill. Spend your days boating on the waters 🚣♂️ and your nights viewing the ✨ hundreds of stars ✨ in the sky . It’s the perfect summer camping destination. Read everything you need to know about camping here below!
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Table of Contents
Convict Lake Camping Information
How to Book a Campground
Campgrounds are available at Convict Lake from April 21 through October 11 ⛺️. You can book a site here ahead of time on recreation.gov. Campsites here open six months in advance and often fill up in the peak summer months. Make sure to look ahead so that you can make sure to get a campground for your trip to this beautiful lake. Some weekdays in the early spring and fall do not book up, and you may be able to just show up, but it is better to book in advance.
All the sites are nonelectric and cost $30 per night 💵. Each spot has a fire pit as well as a picnic table that you can use. Most of the sites allow you to have two vehicles with up to six people, so you can camp with your friends! There is a bathroom on the campground with running water, so you can use the sink to wash your hands and brush your teeth. Overall, the facilities are great and they have stunning views over the lake itself.
What to Do at Convict Lake
Luckily, when you go camping at Convict Lake you are only steps away from the Convict Lake Resort Marina 🚤. The Marina is open from 6 am to 6 pm every day in the summer. You can easily rent a pontoon boat, kayaks, or paddleboards from the marina. Then, you can take them out and enjoy the waters of the bright blue lake.
If you are going to visit Convict Lake during the summer, then you should call in advance to make a reservation. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance, but it is the best way to ensure a time slot. If you forget to make a reservation, then you can try and show up early in the morning to get any available boats. You can rent the boats for a few hours or the whole day!
You can take the boats all around the water, jump off them to swim, and enjoy the views. It’s one of the very best ways to see the lake. We even jumped into the 🥶 freezing cold water 🥶 during the month of May and we had the best time. However, if there is any inclement weather, the marina will stop boat rentals. If you are out on the water, they may call you back in over the walkie talkies. Make sure to stay alert and follow all the rules of the marina.
If you have your own boats, kayaks, or paddleboards, then you can drop them in the lake without any fee. The lake is a no wake zone and no jet skis are allowed on it. I hope you take a boat out and have a wonderful time on the gorgeous waters!
If you’d prefer to stay on land, then you can go hiking around the lake 🥾. There is a 2.5 mile easy loop that follows the length of the lake. It’s a peaceful stroll with only 160 feet of elevation throughout the entire loop. Although most of the walk is accessible and paved, you may want to take extra care if anyone is in a stroller or a wheelchair.
Walking around the lake is a great way to see the different perspectives and beautiful nature surrounding the area. You may come across fisherman and wildlife as you take your hike around the water’s edge. This trail is popular and you will most likely see many others if you go during the peak season or during mid-day.
Another popular thing to do at Convict Lake is to go fishing in the waters 🎣. You can cast a line from a boat, on the bridge, or along the water’s edge. Convict Lake is known as one of the very best places to go fishing in the Eastern Sierras and one of the best fishing holes in California. You can catch Rainbow and German Brown Trout in the water.
This lake also claims a rather long fishing season, with it starting on the last Saturday of April and ending on November 15th. If you want to go sport fishing here, then you must have a fishing license from California and follow all the California fishing regulations. Enjoy your time fishing in this wonderfully scenic setting!
If you don’t want to take a boat out at Convict Lake, you can still go swimming 🏊♀️. You can walk around the lake to find the spot you like best to take a dip. However, there are a few spots that are best for swimmers. Either you can walk to the sandy beach further in the southwest or simply go swimming from the picnic area in the east. The picnic area is the easiest to access and is a popular swimming hole for many!
Best Time to Go Camping
Although camping opens in April, the best time to go camping at Convict Lake is during the summertime. During the spring, the water is still very cold and air temperatures can also be very low. So, if you want to be able to swim in the lake and sleep comfortably, then you will want to visit anytime from mid-June to mid-September.
During the summer months, you’ll be able to enjoy the waters of Convict Lake 💧, experience hours of sunlight ☀️, and see beautiful wildflowers 🌸 . Although it is also the most crowded time of year, it is definitely worth it! My friends and I went over Memorial Day weekend and it was still cold enough where we had to wear jackets in the sunshine. Plan to visit over the summer and enjoy the peak season here!
What to Pack
- Comfortable Walking Shoes
- Day Pack
- 2-3 Liters of Water
- Camping Meals
- Storage for Food (Stay Bear aware!)
- Camping Stove
- Fire starter
- First Aid Kit
- Layers including rain jacket
- Bug Spray
- Hat to block sun
- Bear Spray
- Paddleboards, kayaks, fishing poles
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping mat
Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this camping guide!
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