It’s not just the granite peaks—including famous Mount Morrison—encircling Convict Lake that make it such a dramatic place. Carved by glaciers from the Ice Age, this giant canyon featuring a beautiful turquoise oasis has a turbulent past—144 years ago to this date (September 17!) six escaped prisoners from Carson City holed up here and got into a Wild West shootout. That’s all history now, but for those who can’t resist a little drama, go on a 3-mile hike around the lake during late afternoon. The mountain scenery reflecting onto the ultra-clear waters of the lake makes for a spectacular outing. Start on the northeast side of the lake and follow the easygoing trail with mild ups and downs. Plenty of spur trails descend to the water, which is a popular fishing spot. A boardwalk crosses Convict Creek on the back side of the lake and passes through a grove of aspen trees. Towards the end of the hike there’s a pebble beach with a few picnic tables, but there are plenty of places to stop all along the route (we like the halfway point shoreline area where large rocks make nice perches). Finish the loop just before sunset and watch from a viewing platform as Mount Morrison transitions to a mysterious, looming silhouette.
STAY: For a beautiful setting, easy access to adventures, and the ability to barbecue and eat in, Snowcreek Resort has a variety of options worth checking out, including pet-friendly units.