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Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

Georgia
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Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

We will be leaving Las Vegas around noon on Thursday, June 9th and seeing some sights in Death Valley. We will sleep somewhere on 395 Thurs night such as Lone Pine or more north (not set yet). We are open to tent camping if there is anywhere recommended, otherwise a hotel (we are doing a 3-week massive road trip from Georgia to Calif and back with a combo of tent camping and hotels).

On Fri June 10th we will want to see Manzanar (unless we sleep more north of Independence) and a couple other sites up 395 including Bodie. We have no intention of going into Yosemite but want to go a little more north and camp in the national forest north of Yosemite. However, it appears the road from 395 to 108 and/or 89 may be blocked. In that case we would have to go even more north. Would highway 50 be OK? When we wake up on Sat June 11th we will make our way to San Francisco. Appreciate any advice on how to get from 395 to San Francisco and what not to miss with 3 active boys. I-395 sounds so incredible we would be so disappointed to travel south from Death Valley and work our way up Hwy 5 (we will do that on our return out of Monterey area). Thanks!

California
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1. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

Blocked by what? 108 is expected to open soon and 89 around Echo Summit has some controlled traffic but is passable.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g61000-i315-k45050…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1798615-i17742-k4…

Laguna Hills...
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2. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

395 IS incredible-you won't be sorry! There are a few campgrounds in Lee Vining. I can personally recommend Big Bend campground, it's right on the Lee Vining river (good fishing, too, if that interests you), & just a beautiful place. It's primitive though, no showers or anything. Lee Vining is about 40 minutes from Bodie, IIRC.

Napa, CA
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3. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

All the passes should be open by the time of your trip except for 120 over Tioga Pass and they are making progress on that one too:

http://thesheetnews.com/archives/8911

If you go up to the Bristlecone Pines in the White Mountains, there's a great campground up there:

eugenecarsey.com/camp/…bristlecone.htm

Otherwise, there are hundreds of excellent campgrounds all the way up 395.

Besides Bodie, another interesting place you could stop at is Grover Hot Springs State Park:

onroute.com/dispatch/groverhotsprings.html

If you want to see Lake Tahoe, then 50 would be a good route. Otherwise both 108 and 4 have plenty of spectacular scenery and you could visit Columbia State Historic Park:

http://www.columbiacalifornia.com/

Georgia
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4. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

I was thinking there may still be snow issues on these roads. Thank you so much.

Georgia
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5. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

Also, thanks for the campground recommendation, Redlady, and the ideas you provided, Supercilious. This is awesome. We are so excited.

I am not sure how far up 395 we will want to go on Thursday, June 9th. We will be waking up that day in a hotel south of the Las Vegas strip and seeing Hoover Dam when it opens. Then we will drive around Death Valley to see a few sites and then exit onto 395, which is why I was thinking we may want to crash near Lone Pine; however, all of us are fine with a lot of driving. And we have one of those tents that pop up in 3 minutes!

We will definitely check out the camping options along 395. Thanks!

Also, love the history of the areas we visit--the boys end up getting to see what they learn about in school such as the Gold Rush, the internment camps, the geology, etc.

San Diego...
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6. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

After Death Valley, stop in Lone Pine and visit the Alabama Hills which is an area of rocks just a 5-minute drive west of Lone Pine. Movies and TV shows have been filmed there and there is a museum about them in Lone Pine. From Lone Pine you will have a direct view of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the United States except Alaska. If you visited Badwater in Death Valley, you would have been at the lowest point in North America. These 2 places are only 80 miles apart. Mount Whitney is on the left in this photo: …flickr.com/3376/3616957505_a3c6f2b734_z.jpg

You will see other mountain peaks on your left as you drive north on Highway 395. The Sierra Nevada rises up gradually on the west side and drops off suddenly on the east side, much like the Tetons of Wyoming do. The Sierra forms an escarpment on its east side that is visible to you the whole way from Lone Pine to Lee Vining, where you will turn to go up into the mountains. Most of the drive on the 395 will look like this on the left: …flickr.com/3383/3616954983_e5c181e2c7.jpg

You have indicated that you want to visit Manzanar National Historic Site. More info on that is at http://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm

On the right side of 395, near the town of Big Pine, is the White Mountains. The notable place to visit there is the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, which is home to the oldest trees in the world that reproduce by seed. Some are nearly 5,000 years old in a stark landscape that seems inhospitable. If you are interested in visiting, see sherpaguides.com/california/mountains/easter…

At Mammoth Lakes you would have the opportunity to visit Devil's Postpile National Monument among other sights in that area. Devil's Postpile itself is an unusual rock formation, but there also are other sights to see there such as Rainbow Falls. For more information on Devil's Postpile, see http://www.nps.gov/depo/index.htm

For more info on the Mammoth Lakes area, see this page: http://jrabold.net/mammoth/

You should drive the June Lake Loop instead of taking the 395 all the way to the 120; it will add a few miles, but you will go past 4 lakes, the prettiest of which is Silver Lake, in my opinion, and will bring you close to mountain scenery. The Silver Lake Resort has been there for many years and could be a possible stopover before driving up into Yosemite. http://silverlakeresort.net for more info. There are campgrounds in this area too; see www.forestcamping.com/dow/pacficsw/inyo.htm and look at the Silver Lake or Aerie Crag campgrounds. It is possible to hike up into the Ansel Adams Wilderness from there. My neighbors did that a couple of years ago and reported about it on this page of their web site: travelswithbillandnancy.com/hik_2009-06-30.h…

Mono Lake is close to Lee Vining and has interesting tufa towers. …about.com/od/casierraseast/a/mono_lake.htm

Bodie is one of the best-preserved ghost towns, so if that interests you, directions and other information is at http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509

And last year, my neighbors took a 10-day tour of this whole area and did a lengthy report about it on their web site. They visited many of the same locations mentioned above as well as additional ones such as Obsidian Dome, Ediza Lake, the Fish Hatchery, and others. If you view this page it might help you decide what interests you the most: travelswithbillandnancy.com/eastern_sierras.…

Other web sites that can guide you through the eastern Sierras region include http://395.com , http://thesierraweb.net , http://easternsierra.us/ , http://www.monocounty.org/ , www.totalescape.com/tripez/trips/395.html and fs.usda.gov/inyo%20national%20forest-%20home/

Tioga Pass and Tioga Road (CA Highway 120) may or may not be open by the time you are there. If it is open, I would strongly recommend going up into Yosemite National Park for a couple of days. The drive along Tioga Road is spectacular, as it is the highest public road in California, going right through the High Sierra part of Yosemite. Yosemite Valley is a world-famous destination and early June is a great time to see the famous waterfalls there. It would be a shame to be so close to Yosemite and not go in to see it for a couple of days. Lodging will be difficult or impossible to find at such a short notice, but camping might be possible.

There are campgrounds within the park and some sites are available on a walk-in basis; it will take luck and persistence, and possibly getting up very early in the morning to get a site but it is entirely possible. There are U.S. Forest service campgrounds near Lee Vining, such as Junction, Big Bend, Ellery Lake or Saddlebag Campgrounds, which might be easier to get a site at than campgrounds within the park. See www.forestcamping.com/dow/pacficsw/inyo.htm for descriptions of the various campgrounds.

Outside the west side of Yosemite National Park, the Stanislaus National Forest has some campgrounds not too far from Yosemite, see www.forestcamping.com/dow/pacficsw/stan.htm and look at the ones in the Groveland area; and the Sierra National Forest has some, look at www.forestcamping.com/dow/pacficsw/sier.htm and look at the ones in the Lakeshore area or possibly down in the Oakhurst area just south of Yosemite. As a last resort both the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forest allow dispersed camping in some areas; there is generally no fee for dispersed camping, but there are also no services whatsoever. You would be totally on your own. No permit is required for dispersed camping unless you wanted to have a campfire or use a stove or grill, in which case you would need to obtain a permit from the forest service office.

After you are finished in the Yosemite area you could either go north on the 395 and possibly visit Bodie for the ghost town, and go on to Lake Tahoe; alternatively you could leave Yosemite on the west side and go through the historic gold country of California and then on up to Lake Tahoe or whatever your next destination is.

San Diego...
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7. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

Before someone else complains that I have given you too much to read and listed way too many sights to see for one trip... let me reiterate that you won't have time to see everything there is to see in this region. You should browse the pages linked above and decide which sights are most interesting to you and plan your route using them as anchors, keeping in mind the drive time between each sight you want to see. Fortunately the days are long in June, giving you plenty of sightseeing time.

Uden, The...
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8. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

Not me this time Bw92116 ;)

Hoover Dam tours are from 9am. Depends on what tour you want to take but in addtion to the Dam also walk the New Bridge . Take the exit to Hoover Dam at the Nevada side. (no entrance from the Az side) By driving over the bridge (into Az) you won't see a thing and you are not allowed to stop on the bridge, so maybe walk the bridge from the parkinglot on your way to Hoover Dam.

From Hoover Dam to Death Valley (Furnace Creek) app. takes 3 hours.

Just in case the visits to Hoover and to DV take longer than planned, there's a nice campground at Panamint Springs resort at the far west side of DVNP but it will make your next day drive longer.

In Manzanar not much to see on the grounds (the cemetary is worth a visit). There's an excellent visitor center though with lots of info. You already can see it from 395.

Tet

Georgia
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9. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

Bw92116—thank you so much!! I feel like I won the lottery with all this info. My husband and I have been up till midnight every night for a while (no joke) planning our trip and this drive to get us from Death Valley to San Fran is the area on which we needed most help.

Love that you gave me a great vantage point for Mt. Whitney and I have been telling the boys for weeks how Badwater is the lowest point in the US and how Mt. Whitney is the highest in the lower 48. They have been to the most southern spot in Key West and will be thrilled to get these photos of other extremes.

Love that you shared your n’boors’ website. The ancient trees sound amazing. Love that you mentioned the Stanislaus Forest as my husband located it just last night as a place to go after 395 so I feel you get the essence of what we are trying to do. Thank you so much for all of this awesome info!

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10. Re: Driving north 395 from Lone Pine to North of Yosemite

Badwater is even the lowest point in North America, despite the claim that it is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, there is a place in Chile I think which is lower. The elevation of Mt. Whitney was recalculated a couple of years back by the National Geodetic Survey, it is now officially 14,505 feet instead of 14,495 feet. If you have time to watch the movie "High Sierra" with Humphrey Bogart before you go, then you drive Whitney Portal Road, you will drive the same road that he drove on in the chase scene of the movie. If you watch "Gunga Din" (1939) you will see in the background the Alabama Hills, which are just west of Lone Pine. It's only a 5-minute drive from Lone Pine to the Alabama Hills so I would highly recommend the short side trip, even if you don't go all the way up to Whitney Portal. You will still have a good view of Mt. Whitney from Lone Pine itself. The live web cam view of Mt. Whitney is at http://www.whitneyzone.com/webcam/whitney.jpg

When camping or staying at a tent cabin, be sure to know the rules regarding food storage. Bears seeking human food are a problem in the Sierras and most places require that you store food in bear-proof canisters or lockers. In some places such as Yosemite National Park and most other places you are not allowed to have food in your car at night. To a bear a car is just a large picnic basket. Even anything with a scent, such as air fresheners, baby wipes, unopened packages of food, even empty ice chests... anything with a scent should be stored according to regulations an not be left in a car at night.

My neighbors Bill and Nancy are very friendly people and I'm sure they would be happy to answer email with any questions you might have about the places they show on their site. The only difficulty with them is that they travel so much they are not home very often, and might not be home in time to answer your questions. For all I know they could be at the North Pole or Zaire right now... but I'm sure when they get home they would be happy to answer any specific questions you send by email.

I hope you have a great trip and I hope you choose to spend a day in Yosemite Valley as part of your trip.

Edited: 5:37 pm, May 25, 2011