Charming Eastern Sierra, full of endless beauty and perfect California vibe
Looking for a quick weekend getaway, June Lake, California a rustic old mountain town is sure to take your breath away. Scenic drive across the Sierra. Crisp mountain air. Breathtaking view of alpine lakes. Summer paradise. Lesser crowds.
Outdoorsy Tribe has ventured a few times around Mono County in different seasons, but this was the first time we camped and explore the area around June Lake.
Here you’ll find our guide of the best things to do around June Lake, California for a weekend getaway!
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO VISIT JUNE LAKE?
While our outdoorsy mountain getaway was in the summer, this place is beaming with perfect scenery, lake activities, hikes, fishing any time of the year. Locals tell us fall foliage is stunning to capture. Ski season at the June Mountain ski resort is much less crowded than the famous Lake Tahoe region. Summer of course brings endless fun activities. June Lake sits at 7,654’ above sea level, which is relatively high elevation for most coming in from sea-level in the rest of California. Keeping good hydration level is always advisable at high altitude.
INTERESTED IN BIT OF HISTORY OF THE JUNE LAKE REGION?
Part of the Mono Basin county, there was abundant mining activity around this area, but June Lake stayed untouched and roadless for a long time. When mining saw some decline, the interest developed in the new technology of Hydroelectric Energy.
A roadway was created in 1915 along Rush Creek and past the Silver Lake at that time. The initial construction project continued through 1917, and during this time built Loop's first private resort, known as Carson's Camp. The resort which stayed a tent camp until 1920, then it was replaced by the first cabin. Subsequently in another year one more cabin came into being with a dining room and a small area for a post office. This cabin is still in use as a store and restaurant for the historic Silver Lake Resort. You must visit this and enjoy some rustic country style breakfast, before your outdoorsy trip for the day.
Tales have it that June Lake may have been the resting ground of a number of slot machines which were hastily abandoned in the water middle of the night by merchants in response to an imminent raid by the State Revenue Agents. Interesting right! While failed attempts have been made to discover those "one armed bandits" at the bottom of June Lake, only time will tell if that was indeed a reality.
BEST THINGS TO DO AROUND JUNE LAKE
Road tripping to June Lake, in itself is an adventure, stop by at the numerous picturesque spots and old towns. Two of our favourite spots to stop while driving from the Bay Area were at Jamestown, formerly a California Gold Rush Town. The other stop was around Twain Harte, had a very artistic vibe to it, we would surely be coming back to this one to explore more.
If Tioga Pass is open, take a drive through the stunning Yosemite National Park, the massive granite walls and beautiful meadows will surely transport you to a different world.
Tribe drove down Sonora Pass and I must say this was such an amazing experience, take stops to soak in all you can of this landscape. There was still snow up there and numerous, waterfalls, streams to enjoy.
Scenic June Lake Loop, a 16-mile drive through the forest, rugged mountains, and alpine lake views in this mountain paradise. Just two miles and 20 minutes off Highway 395, the June Lake, take your time along this loop, you will have many point to admire.
Bodie State Park once a miners settlement is today the biggest ghost town in the west and is located nearby, just west of Yosemite. Walk around the creepy, deserted streets. Tribe visited this in our last trip here.
Enjoy the Lake Life
If you want to enjoy the lake life, this is the place - from June Lake to nearby Gull Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Lake take your pick. Beaches, kayaking, kite surfing or fishing this place has it all. The marinas are well equipped and you can rent all kinds of equipment to enjoy the Lake Life. Rent a boat and spend a day at the lake, get some cliff jumps in and just soak the endless beauty of this place.
Camping at June Lake Campgrounds is very popular and campsites to gets booked many months in advance. With the perfect blend of being next to the lake, being close to a small town with enough amenities and still being rather in the wilderness. It was certainly enjoyable. If you are not the camping kinds check out the oldest resort in town Silver Lake Resort or the newest Double Eagle Resort
Hike and explore the Eastern Sierra
Depending on how much time you have in hand, try getting up close in the wilderness. Hiking this region for 360 degree views will be the best decision you make.
The Gull Lake Loop is a short 2 mile dog-friendly hike. Relatively flat it's easy for all fitness levels. It could get muddy at some parts depending on the lake levels and expect bugs so carry a bug spray, specially during evenings. The views along the lake are amazing and if might see wildflowers depending on what time of the year you are there.
Parker Lake is a 3.6 mile 656 ft elevation gain to one of the most beautiful emerald alpine lakes in Ansel Adams Wilderness. If you got time only for one hike and you are releavitly fit, tribe highly recommends this hike. 2-3 hours should work well to enjoy this extremely picturesque lake. It surely starts off as a steep incline and can get super hot if you start later in the day like we did, but views of Mono Lake at a distance and a cold dip in the lake made it all worth it. The good part also is that there is shade along a beautiful stream about half way into the hike. Another interesting part is the approach to the trailhead, involving bit of offroading, parking is limited and gets very full.
Mono Lake what a beauty. Easy to follow hike 1-3 miles, relatively flat and takes you to the most stunning views you would have seen. Many columns of limestone rise above the surface of Mono Lake, these are called tufas. These are formed from limestone that forms in low to moderate temperatures. The lake is famous for the Mono Lake brine shrimp.
Learning's from the tribe - Making the best use of the time you have is better than waiting for the right time and not doing anything.