Motor Boating the Eastern Sierra

Oct 15, 2020

Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding Eastern Sierra is quickly gaining popularity as a mountain playground for power boaters and jet skiers. Made famous by soaring peaks and world-class fisheries, the region contains many large lakes that are often overlooked by recreational boaters. When it’s hot and crowded at lower elevations, the Eastern Sierra remains cool, serene and relaxing.

Two huge lakes are ideal for power boaters and jet skiers: Crowley and Grant Lakes. Both of these unbelievably beautiful lakes offer easy access and full service marinas complete with boat rentals, concessions and campgrounds. Whether water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing or just exploring the lakes’ diverse shorelines, Mammoth Lakes offers an unforgettable experience for any boater.

Crowley Lake

Crowley Lake is located only minutes from downtown Mammoth Lakes and provides boaters with breathtaking views of the legendary Sierra Nevada and Glass mountains. Situated within the caldera of an ancient mega-volcano, the 5,000 acre Crowley Lake reservoir is surrounded by rolling hills of dark green sagebrush and pinion pine forests backed by grays and browns of glacially scoured rock. Few powerboat-friendly lakes offer the opportunity to recreate with such incredible views.

Crowley Lake is a vital component of the Los Angeles domestic water supply. By trapping the spring runoff from the surrounding mountains, the lake remains full of water throughout the year. Combined with Crowley’s impressive size, this makes the reservoir a perfect choice for summer and fall boating, jet skiing, water skiing and wakeboarding.

To get to the reservoir from Mammoth Lakes, travel 11 miles south on U.S. Highway 395 from the intersection with State Route 203. Exit the highway at the Crowley Lake off-ramp, turning left and traveling over the highway on the overpass. The full service Crowley Lake Fish Camp marina, campground and boat launch is only a short drive down this road. For more information, visit their website.

Grant Lake

Picturesque Grant Lake sits protected amidst the shadows of the surrounding 12,000-foot peaks. Positioned at the mouth of the glacially carved Rush Creek Canyon and located a short distance from Mammoth Lakes, the lake provides a rare opportunity to powerboat and jet ski in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. Grant Lake is the largest of the four lakes comprising the June Lake Loop and in the fall, quaking aspen on the surrounding hillside turn brilliant yellow and orange, casting a majestic reflection across the lake’s waters.

Grant Lake is also an integral component of the Los Angeles water network and water levels can vary widely as a result. On Grant Lake, a 10 miles per hour speed limit is imposed until 10:00 a.m. daily in order to prevent boat wake from impacting early morning fishermen. After this time, powerboats may launch at the lake, allowing use by water skiers, wakeboarders, jet skiers and pleasure craft.

Grant Lake is easily reached from Mammoth Lakes by traveling 24 miles north on U.S. Highway 395, bypassing the southern end of the June Lake Loop on the left. Take a left at the northern June Lake/Rush Creek turnoff (State Route 158) and travel 3 miles. The turnoff for the full service Grant Lake Marina and campground will be on the left and most of the shoreline is accessible from numerous primitive roadways. For more information, contact the Grant Lake Marina at (760) 648-7964.