Bass Lake (Madera County, California)

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Bass Lake
Basslake goatmountain.jpg
Location of Bass Lake in California, USA.
Location of Bass Lake in California, USA.
Bass Lake
Location of Bass Lake in California, USA.
Location of Bass Lake in California, USA.
Bass Lake
LocationSierra National Forest
Madera County, California
Coordinates37°17′27″N 119°31′30″W / 37.29077°N 119.52513°W / 37.29077; -119.52513Coordinates: 37°17′27″N 119°31′30″W / 37.29077°N 119.52513°W / 37.29077; -119.52513
Primary inflowsWillow Creek
Primary outflowsWillow Creek
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length6.7 km (4.2 mi)
Max. width0.64 km (0.40 mi)
Surface area472 ha (1,170 acres)
Max. depth30 m (98 ft)
Water volume56,100 dam3 (45,500 acre⋅ft)
Surface elevation1,027 m (3,369 ft)
SettlementsBass Lake, California

Bass Lake is located in the Sierra National Forest, of Madera County, California, approximately 14 mi (23 km) south of the entrance to Yosemite National Park. The lake is approximately four miles long and one-half mile wide.

The lake is formed by the construction of the Crane Valley Dam across Willow Creek, a tributary to the San Joaquin River, and is referenced as Crane Valley Lake.[3] Releases from the dam drive the hydro-electric powerplant operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company.[4] The 145 ft (44 m) concrete gravity dam was completed in 1910 by Pacific Gas and Electric.[5]

Most of the land around the lake is part of the Sierra National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service designated the lake an official Recreation Area and has developed campgrounds and picnic areas on the south shore of the lake. The north shore of the lake is primarily made up of private cabins and homes of the unincorporated community, Bass Lake, California, with a year-round population of 2,195.[6]


Wakeboarding before sunset.

Much of the area surrounding Bass Lake is devoted to the tourism industry. The south entrance to Yosemite National Park is only fourteen miles away. The lake water typically reaches 80 °F (27 °C) during the summer months. Fishing, swimming, water skiing, and personal watercrafting are popular.[7]

Hells Angels[edit]

In 1963, Bass Lake became a yearly destination for the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC), attracting hundreds of bikers from across the state. A first-hand report of the 1965 Bass Lake Run was reported by Hunter S. Thompson in his first book, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

Most locals viewed the run as an annual menace that brought crime and frightened tourists away. Each year roadblocks, curfews, and campground restrictions were enforced by law enforcement from throughout Madera County and its surrounding areas in an effort to block, or at least control, the Hells Angels activity.

The run peaked in the 1970s before slowly fading away altogether by the late 1980s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bass Lake Dam". 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey (2009). "Feature Detail Report: Bass Lake". Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  3. ^ Department of Water Resources Division of Safety of Dams (2009). "Listing of Dams". California Data Exchange Center. State of California. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  4. ^ "Bass Lake History". 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "History, Then and Now..." Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  7. ^ "Bass Lake (Crane Valley)". Madera County, California GenWeb. 21 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-13.

External links[edit]