Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
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Bowman Lake Recreation Area is a remote lakeside stretch up in the scenic High Sierra.

Despite its remote location and the very rough roads required to access the area, the Recreation Area tends to stay pretty busy, particularly during holidays and weekends. 

Reached by narrow and extremely rough dirt roads, just reaching the lake is an adventure reserved only for capable vehicles. The Forest Service warns against bringing trailers to the lake as there are extremely rough and narrow roads that are not wide enough for two cars to pass in many places, requiring cars to reverse to a point where it is safe to do so.

The lake itself is a scenic deep blue, spread out over a wide section of the mountains. Bowman Lake itself only has a few access points, including a short steep forked road near the center of the lake. This area is often full, but those lucky enough to find it empty will see some small benches, viewpoints over the lake and surrounding peaks, and access to clear blue swimming coves. Bowman Lake is also notable for being the main landmark for several surrounding areas of interest, including backcountry primitive campgrounds, lakes great for canoeing and kayaking, and hiking trails that vary from short to multi-day.

Bowman itself allows non motorized boats, and those making their way out onto the water will often find they have the lake to themselves.

There are no bathrooms at the lake, however there are at neighboring campgrounds. There is no water available and visitors must pack out their trash.

There are no fees required to visit Bowman Lake. Reaching Bowman Lake Recreation Area requires a 7 mile drive down a rough and narrow gravel road. High clearance is absolutely essential, 4WD is strongly recommended.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Epic swimming coves.


Tends to be very busy. Extremely narrow roads. Limited lake access points.


Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Family friendly
Picnic tables
Near lake or river



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