I had lived in Reno for almost 8 years. I’d been to Gardnerville countless times, but never any further south on Hwy 395. One day I randomly came across a picture of Bodie, a mining ghost town located just south of Bridgeport, and instantly became infatuated. I convinced a few of my friends to head down there for a weekend getaway and instantly fell in love with the area. Here are 4 reasons why you should plan a trip to the Eastern Sierra.
The land along Hwy 395 is loaded with hot springs perfect for soaking those sore muscles after a long day of skiing or just relaxing and enjoying the breathtaking views. You can either pay to enjoy a natural hot spring that has been funneled into a man-made pool like at Grover’s Hot Springs or David Wally’s, or you can venture into the unknown and find a natural hot spring. If you decided to go the natural route, please read this blog on hot spring etiquette. Finding them is always the tough part. You can definitely google “Eastern Sierra Hot Springs”, but I think the best thing to do is adventure out and find one on your own!
Natural Park Areas
We’ve all heard of Yosemite, turn right at Lee Vining from Hwy 395 to see its granite cliffs and magnificent waterfalls. If you’d like to read more, check out my blog on Half Dome. However, there are plenty of great parks located in Eastern California without climbing Tioga Pass. Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve is located near the Yosemite turnoff. This shallow saline soda lake is considered prehistoric and filled with large Tufa Towers or limestone towers. Bodie is a California Historic Landmark and a preserved mining ghost town. Rumor has it that during the gold boom Bodie was the 3rd largest city in California. The mines started to close, and by the early 1900s, the once-booming city was now considered a ghost town. The people left so abruptly, that they left behind vehicles, clothes, dishes among other items now on display in the historic town.
You can’t write a blog about Hwy 395 and the Eastern Sierra without mentioning skiing and Mammoth Mountain. With over 3,500 skiable acres and an elevation of over 11,000 ft, Mammoth Mountain is often the training mountain for Olympic winter athletes. If you want to avoid the long lift lines at Mammoth, you can give June Mountain a try. With 1,500 skiable acres, June is a much smaller mountain, but still great to ski and a local’s favorite after a storm. Backcountry skiing is also really popular in this area. I was camping in the Bridgeport area Memorial Weekend after the epic 16/17 ski season. The mountains were still deep with snow and backcountry skiing was a popular activity. We were hiking a trail near Twin Lakes, and we were the only group not hiking with skis on our back. We saw the bowl everyone was hiking too and a couple of my friends started drooling.
Basically, if you are looking for a weekend getaway and love the outdoors, you should plan a trip south (or north if you’re coming from Southern California) on Hwy 395 and explore the Eastern Sierra. Here you can camp, hike, fish and play on or in the water with the beautiful Sierra as your backdrop. Paddleboard on Lake Mary or cast your line in the East Walker River.
Until next time…