I’d seen the sign for Convict Lake numerous times while driving by on Hwy 395, but this trip was the time I would turn off the highway and check it out. I’m glad I did. It’s only two miles from the highway, but once you get there it’s like being in another world. You’ve got the Mojave Desert type of terrain along 395, but two miles later you’re next to a 170-acre lake nestled in the aspens of Convict Canyon, with the towering peak of Mount Morrison stretching skywards above you. What a dramatic change in view in just two miles.
Known for its fishing and dramatic mountain vistas, the lake’s surface lies at an elevation of 7,850 feet. It was named after an incident that took place on September 23rd of 1871. As the story goes, a group of convicts escaped from prison in Carson City and a posse from nearby Benton encountered the convicts near the head of what is now Convict Creek. Led by Deputy Sheriff George Hightower, the posse engaged in a shootout with the convicts in which Robert Morrison, a Benton merchant and Wells Fargo Agent, was killed. Mount Morrison is named in his honor.
Convict Lake is one of the prettiest lakes I’ve seen in a long time. It’s flanked by tall granite peaks on three sides and ringed with aspen trees which turn gold in the fall. I think I missed the peak colors by about a week, but it was still beautiful. If you enjoy hiking, there is a three mile loop around the lake and if you enjoy fishing, the lake is stocked weekly with rainbow trout during the summer months. It’s definitely a place I’ll be visiting again.