Convict Lake is located on the east side High Sierra Mountains in Mono County, California below Mount Morrison (12,241 ft). The serene lake is nestled in a serene canyon and offers great opportunities for boating, hiking, fishing and camping. Overall, the lake if an oblong shape, and carved from the hard rock from glaciers and at 140 feet deep, it is one of the deepest in the area. Paiute Indians called the lake Wit-sa-nap
Originally known to Europeans as Monte Diablo and named Convict Lake after an prison escape on September 17, 1871 in near by Carson City, Nevada. About half of the twenty nine convicts followed Charlie Jones, who use to life in the area, into the area on Monte Diablo (Convict) Creek a few miles away from the lake. While camping near the creek, the party killed a local man.
The killing prompted the local community to form a posse on September 22, 1871 which encountered the convicts at the creek where a gun battle ensued. By November 1, the convicts were either captured, or dead and many of them executed on the way back. Convict Lake is certainly a well deserved if not macabre name.
Today, the lake has all anyone could ask of a lake in the High Sierra. The lake and stream offers great fishing of Rainbow Trout and Brownie Trout.
There is a small boat rental shop near the north end of the lake. A trail circumnavigates the lake and offers a great hike and many places to picnic. In some areas around the lake the trail is inundated with California Wild Rose which offers a blast of pink in a green hedge.
Visitors to the lake may enjoy camping, fishing, hiking and boating. A small general store can help stock up your supplies or buy a fishing license.
For those not into camping, there is a nice small resort at the lake were you can rent a cabin, and on my last visit, a wedding was hosted there. It was like a scene from “Grumpy Old Men”, when a man walked into the store in a tuxedo while I am purchasing a fishing license. The resort is a decent size, meaning that it is not too large and does not detract from the scenery.
Overall, Convict Lake is a great place to camp and visit, and I just can’t wait to get back.