I’m a sucker for a scenic road and Highway 395 is one of the good ones in my opinion.
On our way home from Mammoth Lakes headed south, we decided to take our time and explore this route a little more. This meant stopping at some of the underrated and quirky places along the way.
Because there was so much to see and many were historical, we split this up into three parts. We hope you will enjoy.
To get to the Eastern Sierras, Highway 395 is one of the easiest ways. It starts near the town of Victorville and takes you through the interior of California while passing by deserts, mountains, and plenty of lakes.
On our way north, we only drove as far as the town of Lee Vining which is about two hours south of Lake Tahoe, but we saw so much.
If you trace Highway 395 on a map, you will see that right around Lake Tahoe, it does a short diversion into Nevada and then back into California. What is interesting is that it continues north through Oregon, Washington, and finally stops at the Canadian border.
Our five hour drive was just a snippet of what this grand road provides and as mentioned, there was a lot see!
What I found interesting is that there are exits from the 395 that take you to the lowest altitude in North America and the highest in the contiguous United States.
Just a couple hours from the highway is the highly traveled Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level.
In contrast, you can access the Mount Whitney portal around the town of Lone Pine. A thirteen mile drive takes you to an elevation of 8,373 feet and is the gateway to Mount Whitney. If you are so inclined you can climb this mountain which has an altitude of 14,505 feet. Only Alaska has higher peaks.
So altitude changes of 282 feet below sea level to 14,505 feet above, all accessible from Highway 395.
The Road Begins
As you leave the hustle and bustle of Southern California, the scenery starts changing as you’ll soon notice more and more tree lined hills. With summer just ending, they were not as vibrant as after a rainy period, but still beautiful.
The highway eventually starts its ascent into higher altitudes and the Eastern Sierras will soon appear in the distance. Spread out like a enormous majestic wall, this range of mountains separates the coast from this inland passage. The mountain peaks were only slighted dotted with snow although that will soon be changing when fall turns into winter.
However, winter seemed so far away as on this day, the temperatures were in the 80’s to mid 90’s .
Now let’s start the trip with Lee Vining, Lundy Lake, June Lake Loop, Lakes Crawley and Convict then finally The McGee Creek RV Park in Part One.