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Blog Boating & Boat Safety On Bass Lake
Alex Silgalis | 07/01/2022Boating, Family Friendly, Outdoor Activities, Train Riding |   

Nestled in a valley surrounded by pine covered slopes, Bass Lake is a boater’s dream. For those that own one, there’s two public boat launching sites to set off from. And if you don’t, you can rent, charter, or take a cruise on Madera County’s basecamp of water fun. As such, to make sure everyone can enjoy these waters including non-boaters, here’s a few tips and simple rules to follow.

You can Boat Bass Lake 'Round the Clock!

Boat parade on Bass Lake

First, the good news. Bass Lake is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means if you want to go for a night cruise, you can. To keep the relaxed vibe going at night, a speed of 5 mph/no-wake is mandatory between sunset or 8 p.m. (whichever comes first) and 8 a.m. And remember, like any other lake in the country, you can’t operate ANY recreational vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Follow The Lead...

Looking at a map you’ll notice that Bass Lake is long and skinny; it's over four miles long but just a little less than half a mile at its widest. To ensure boating enthusiasts can enjoy these waters harmoniously, everyone must travel counterclockwise. If you want to go across to the other side of the lake, make it a straight shot and cut across.

Boating Safety Map courtesy of PG&E and the Madera County Sheriff

You can download your own copy of the current Bass Lake Safe Boating Conduct Guidelines here.

Patio boating on beautiful Bass LakePatio/Pontoon Boating is very popular on Bass Lake As we said above, the ENTIRE lake is a no-wake zone in the evening/morning hours between sunset or 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Also, take heed that if you’re traveling between shoreline to an orange buoy area, the speed limit is 5 mph/no-wake. Once you pass the buoy, you can hit the gas.

Speed Limits

Madera County Sheriff Boat Patrol

In addition to the no-wake zones/times, Madera County has established a 40-mph speed limit for Bass Lake on certain days and conditions. Due to the most popular visiting times being Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day, including weekends that accompany each holiday, these calendar times have this restriction set. Outside of those days, Sheriff personnel may establish the speed limit restriction due to a hazardous or unsafe condition. You’ll know if that’s the case when a red flag is being flown at each marina during these times.

Everyone Has A Space to Do Their Thing!

Watersport fun on Bass Lake Opening Day - Boating - WakeboardingWake Boarding

Bass Lake is a very inclusive body of water. Boaters, swimmers, paddle boarders, kayakers, and even jet skiers can enjoy it. To help make sure everyone stays safe, there are certain areas you can enjoy each activity.

Personal Watercraft

If you’re on a PWC (personal watercraft), there are two areas set aside just for you.  These are marked with white buoys that indicate PWC area ONLY. You'll find one on the north shore across from Miller’s Landing. And the second is on the south shore between Denver Church and Pine Slope day use areas.


For swimmers, there's several beaches that are specifically designated for you. Like the PWC buoys, the swim ones are also white, but instead of PWC on them, they indicate swim area only. They include the Falls Beach swim area, Recreation Point swim area, Forks Cove swim area, and the Pines Resort.


Paddleboarding on Bass LakeLastly, if you’re out there enjoying Bass Lake on a standup paddleboard or SUP for short, you can paddle within the 5 mph/no-wake zone only. The Coast Guard considers these “vessels” and so you must be equipped with proper gear and follow the navigation rules just like a boat. This also means you must have a personal flotation device (PFD).

In summary, if you do go boating on Bass Lake, it’s YOUR responsibility to know the rules and follow them (a key tenant of #RecreatingResponsibly is to #KnowBeforeYouGo). Even if there isn’t a specific rule just like hiking in the wilderness, be always aware of your surroundings so that we all can have fun AND come home safe. For more information about Bass Lake's rules, be sure to visit Madera County’s FAQ page.  Here's also a great article from our friends at Sierra News Online that summarizes many of the applicable rules and regulations. 

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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