NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California


Highway 395 South- Lee Vining to Lone Pine

Mono Basin Visitor's Center

Highway 395 traverses the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It has much to offer a variety of travelers. Our chosen section ranges from Lee Vining and Mono Lake on the north, to Lone Pine to the south. Lee Vining is the village just outside the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park and serves as the gateway to Mono Lake. The latter deserves a look for its unique tufa spires and rather other-worldly look. The Mono Basin Visitor's Center just outside Lee Vining is well worth a stop. The region can also serve as an overflow camping area when the campsites in eastern Yosemite are full, a common occurrence at times during the year.

Lone Pine is the village to the south that serves as the gateway to Death Valley National Park. So on one level this trip gets you from Yosemite to Death Valley. But there is far more to it than that. Several reasons to explore this region include: exploration of eastern Yosemite National Park without camping there, fishing in one of many alpine lakes and rivers, enjoying the June Lake or Mammoth Lakes vacation meccas, hiking the John Muir Trail and maybe climbing Mount Whitney. Inyo National Forest, the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area and the John Muir Wilderness finish off your playground.

For the person whose favorite toys are the fishing rod and small boat, this area is incredibly attractive. Alpine lakes abound along this road, including "major" attractions like the June Lake Loop and Mammoth Lakes Basin. There is something for everyone here, from the lone fisherperson seeking relative solitude to the family needing kid-friendly diversions and maybe a resort offering more than hard ground and a one-pot meal.

Lastly, backpackers can choose between the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas, with the Pacific Crest Trail available in many spots. The bottom line; there's not much on Highway 395 but recreation destinations so if that's your game, pack up and go.  More.....

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