Roadtrip season is on! To celebrate, we’re sharing all the places we’re exploring this summer around California and beyond. First up is our trip to Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada range in Eastern California.
For better or worse, we’re the type of people who think it’s completely reasonable to drive more than 5 hours to a destination on a 4-day weekend. Per my insistence/anxiety, we also try to camp at places where you can get a reservation beforehand (to my defense, this comes in handy on the multiple times we’ve rolled up to a campsite after dark). We’d been pining over photos we’d seen of the snowcapped Sierras, glacier lakes and hot springs in the Mammoth Lakes. So when we saw you could reserve campsites – we were sold.
We camped first at Twins Lakes Campground in a spotless, but damp spot on the edge of the bigger lake. The lakes are fed by Lake Mamie via the enormous Twins Falls waterfall within the campground. You can hike a steep incline to the top, which we did rather perilously as the trail was obscured by snow, but it was worth it for the breathtaking views.
The next day we planned to move camp to the Oh! Ridge Campground, aptly named as it sits on a ridge overlooking June Lake. Since you often can’t check-in to a site until mid-afternoon, we opted to head into Yosemite National Park before setting up camp. Because we always seem to be visiting national parks on national holidays, it was CRAZY crowded, like Disneyland crowded. Though thankfully, we came in via Tioga Pass, the far less travelled, and incredibly gorgeous entrance to the park. Although we couldn’t even eliminate the crowds on the 7+mile Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, the views of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley from the trail were everything John Muir described them to be.
The next day we were eager to avoid the claustrophobia of the crowds in Yosemite by hiking to to Yost Lake, a hidden glacial lake at 9000 ft right above June Lake. We thankfully saw just one set of hikers on our way up. We crossed waterfalls, alpine meadows and groves of aspens.
Other recommended stops for anyone heading up to the eastern sierras are: jumping in one of the many free public hot springs in the valley just outside Mammoth, walking down to the limestone tufa towers on the beach of the super salty Mono Lake and grabbing a veggie melt on homemade bread at Alabama Hills cafe in Lone Pine before driving the Movie Road Loop at the foot of Mount Whitney, named as such for the hundreds of westerns filmed in the area.
Next up will be an impromptu trip to see big trees and swim in mountain lakes – Sequoia + King Canyon National Park.