Thousand Island Lake

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Thousand Island Lake
Mt Banner and Thousand Island Lake.jpg
Banner Peak above the lake
LocationSierra Nevada, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Madera County, California, United States
Coordinates37°43′15″N 119°10′56″W / 37.72083°N 119.18222°W / 37.72083; -119.18222Coordinates: 37°43′15″N 119°10′56″W / 37.72083°N 119.18222°W / 37.72083; -119.18222
Primary outflowsMiddle Fork San Joaquin River
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length2.5 mi (4.0 km)
Max. width0.7 mi (1.1 km)
Surface elevation2,997 metres (9,833 ft) [1]

Thousand Island Lake is a large alpine lake in the Sierra Nevada, within the Ansel Adams Wilderness in eastern Madera County, California.

The lake is named for the many small rocky islands that dot its surface. Theodore Solomons probably established the 'Thousand Island' name, as this appears on his 1896 map. John Muir called it by "Islet Lake."[2]


The lake is within the boundaries of the Ansel Adams Wilderness of the Sierra National Forest and Inyo National Forest. Thousand Island Lake sits at the base of Banner Peak in the Ritter Range. It is the source of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, which flows southeast, and then west, into the San Joaquin Valley. The lake is a glacial tarn, formed in the bottom of a cirque when a glacier retreated.[3]

View of lake from near outlet creek


Thousand Island Lake is accessible from several hiking routes:


The black and white photographs by Ansel Adams made Thousand Island Lake a famous Sierra landmark.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Thousand Island Lake
  2. ^ Browning, Peter (1986) Place Names of the Sierra Nevada. Berkeley: Wilderness Press. p. 215.
  3. ^ Schoenherr, Allan A. (1992). A Natural History of California. University of California Press. p. 553. ISBN 0-520-06922-6.