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. Releases from the dam drive the hydro-electric powerplant operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The 145 ft (44 m) concrete gravity dam was completed in 1910 by Pacific Gas and Electric.
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.
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.
In 1963, Bass Lake became a yearly destination for the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC), attracting hundreds of bikers from across the state.