Revisiting the Eastern Sierras, CA
We paused in our southward migration to park Betsy at Sparks, Nevada, taking the car for family and friend visits between there and the Bay Area. We had no desire to drive Betsy down there again, and being able to stay with family for a few days made it a no-brainer (thank you, Becky!).
We spent five busy days enjoying time with special people we hadn’t seen for too long, and you can guess what that entailed; lots of food, drink and good times!
We returned to Sparks after a lot of fun and frivolity. Next up was a hike at Hidden Canyon Regional Park to burn off some of those calories. This was a rough and steep trail that provided excellent views of the Reno/Sparks area as we climbed high above:
Eastern Sierra Nevada
We continued south along Hwy 395, repeating one of our favorite routes that we last drove in 2012. This rugged mountain range packs a lot of outdoor adventure, and Hwy 395 is the access point to all of them. The many interesting points of interest have something for everyone in a span of about 300 miles. While there, we camped in the towns of June Lake, Bishop, and Lone Pine as we attempted to stay ahead of the cold Fall temperatures coming into the higher elevations.
What’s so special here? Diversity!
Or you can bask in mountain sceneries as you drive to visit picturesque and accessible lakes –
Or you can dry camp with your RV like we did with Betsy and go boulder hopping at Alabama Hills, where countless Hollywood westerns have been filmed over the past several decades –
Or you can scale the tallest peak in the continental U.S., Mt. Whitney at 14,505′. We didn’t do the whole mountain, but here’s my post about our hike at the portal –
The above are only the beginning of what you can see and do on a trip along Hwy 395 through Inyo and Mono Counties!
Having completed most of our must-do and must-see things during our 2012 visit, this time we focused on the many stunning hiking opportunities to choose from.
We were glad that we’d reserved only three nights at June Lake, because at 7,654′ the nights were getting very cold. Our priority was to visit Devils Postpile National Monument, which on our previous visit had closed for the winter days before our arrival. This year it closed on Oct. 27th, so we made it just in time. They have a shuttle service that takes visitors to the monument, but it had already shut down for the season so we took our car up the narrow and steep road, climbing almost 1,500′ from Minaret Vista Station:
Geologists say these formations are some of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt. To better understand them click here for the National Park Service’s explanation.
From there we followed a trail to the highest waterfall in the eastern Sierras, the 101′ tall Rainbow Falls. It’s named for the rainbow that appears in the mist from the water flow on sunny afternoons. We were too early for the rainbow and continued on a 6-mile loop back to our car.
Having checked that one off the ol’ bucket list, we next chose to follow two other trails in the area, the Rush Creek Trail to Agnew Lake and the Gull Lake Loop. Along the way we trekked through vibrant Aspen trees, golden meadows, fallen leaves and granite peaks. The eastern Sierras don’t have the incredible variety of colors seen in some eastern states, but their craggy rocks with yellow and gold leaf carpets creeping all the way up to the tree lines is amazing:
The rewards of the Rush Creek to Agnew Lake Trail were pristine views of multiple lakes, stunning foliage, and a nice waterfall:
Gull Lake was within walking distance of our home base at June Lake RV Park, so we took a quick 3-mile walk around it before moving on to our next destination:
We were among the last campers at the park, and they closed for the winter a couple of days after our departure. Their cabins remained open for the winter ski season, but we were eager to move to a lower elevation – the forecast for the next night was 15º. We gotta get outta here!