Extend Your Vacation to Lake Tahoe
It was inevitable that we continue our quest to create great California vacations. So we decided that driving and stopping along Hwy 395 would be the route as we planned a great summer trip. Our ultimate goal was to start in Mammoth, and then head north and stop at as many sites as we could find. |
Heading north out of Mammoth the first place we came to that was worth the visit was a quick run through June Lake. This is a very undeveloped, yet happening place, especially during the summer. The town of June Lake is small and quaint, and it has several lakes, the notable one is of course its namesake. This lake has a beach and you can rent kayaks, sun yourself, or do what most do which is fish. We picked up some hiking maps, but ultimately decided that we would just eat lunch at the grab and go sandwich shop and carry on, as it wasn't originally on the list of places to stop anyway.
What we really wanted to do was take the "tufa tour" at Mono Lake. Mono is the lake that has been rejuvenated since the Los Angeles DWP sucked out all the water. What you'll see are these strange objects growing right out of the lakes made mostly of limestone. They look creepy and ghoulish, but are also surreal at the same time. If you follow the south road off of Hwy 395 you will find the forest ranger's booth and parking lot. This is the place to get your guided tour. There is also a kids tour which brings the stories down to pint size so they can understand why these structures, and all the fish and birds that inhabit the lake and its islands are so important to ecology.
Just past Mono Lake is the favorite place of all time. Bodie Ghost Town. We have written lots on Bodie, and visited it many times as this is one place we just can't get enough of. Bodie is an old mining town that flourished during the 1849 California gold rush days. One winter, after the mines dried up, everyone just walked away leaving it just as it is. It's very eerie to see people's stuff left just as it was, and yet... no people. Since we were headed to Lake Tahoe we didn't stop, but could have spent at least a 1/2 day here alone.
Once we were back on the road from our two detours. We pretty much wanted to plow through up to Tahoe. We were headed for south shore and were getting antsy about getting there already. It really only takes 3 hours to drive from Mammoth to Tahoe and locals due it all the time to buy their supplies. The easiest way off of the highway is to take HWY 50 up the hill. Lake Tahoe is a crater filled with water, so you do have to climb up the mountains, and once you get to the Spooner Lake turnoff, the lake is right in front. We headed to the property manager's office so that we could pick up the keys to our rental property in Lake Tahoe suggest by Lake Tahoe City Concierge website. We could smell the breeze off the water and were certainly happy we had made it. BTW the place was very nice, but before we could settle in, we wanted to figure out what there was to do. In South Lake Tahoe, the entertainment at the casinos is what it is all about... except for playing on the water. Turns out, that it was not an easy task to decide what to do once we arrived, so we unpacked, opened a bottle of wine, and relaxed. Tomorrow is another day.
South Lake Tahoe is known for it's lake activities like boating, sailing, paddle boarding. We didn't have time to do North Shore but they are more hiking, river rafting, golf oriented. Driving back and forth from Lake Tahoe to Mammoth seems like the way to spend a vacation. Since they are so close together, with a little help in planning, you can extend your stays so it is not just a weekend getaway at either place, but a real vacation. Next time, we're going to do the same thing, but were going to stay on the North Shore. We're looking forward to floating down the Truckee River.
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