Explore Dream Discover
We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us
Explore Dream Discover
We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us
The Eastern Sierra Mountains is California's backbone, and U.S. highway 395 which runs east of the Sierra Nevada range would have to be one of California's most spectacular drive's. The highlights of this driving itinerary include majestic mountain peaks, endless outdoor opportunities and unusual natural and man-made locations such as Mono Lake and the ghost town of Bodie. Try to spend atleast a week exploring the area.
Los Angeles to Red Rock Canyon - 120 miles
First stop on this road trip is Red Rock Canyon State Park! Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs and dramatic rock formations in spectacularly vivid colors. Miles of trails meander through the dramatic landscape of the park, and hiking is an intimate way to experience the desert... make sure you bring lots of water though. We hiked the Hagen Canyon Nature Trail. The park is open from sunrise to sunset for day use, however the campground is open 24 hours. The campground is tucked up against the base of a cliff and offer primitive campsites with pit toilets, fire rings, and tables. There are no RV hook-ups or showers.
Red Rock Canyon to Lone Pine - 90 miles
Next stop as you make your way to Lone Pine is the Indian Wells Brewing Co. This little brewery which calls itself the 'biggest little brewery in the world' offers a variety of great beer including IPA's, stouts, porters and ales. They also make over 100 varieties of soda's with flavors like Bacon-Maple Root Beer and Sour Green Apple Soda. There is a nice outdoor seating area which is great for relaxing and taking in the high desert views.
Eventually you will reach Highway 395 and the small town of Lone Pine. Lone Pine was named after a solitary pine tree that once stood at the mouth of Lone Pine Canyon. The town's roots stretch back into the mid-1800's to supply local miners with provisions. As the Wild West days were coming to an end, the Hollywood Westerns were just beginning and since the 1920's the area has been the backdrop to countless western films.
THINGS TO DO IN LONE PINE:
The Museum of Western Film History has an extensive collection of movie memorabilia including props, movie cars, costumes, posters and camera equipment. The museum even has modern memorabilia from the movies Django Unchained, Iron Man, Star Trek and Tremors. The museum is open year round and entry is by donation.
The Alabama Hills was a favorite filming location for classic western films including the more recent Django Unchained, which starred Leo DiCaprio. The rounded rocks found here contrast sharply with the adjacent jagged peaks to the west. Take a driving tour through the area or get out and explore. The area is known for dozens of natural arches found throughout the park.
At the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitors Center, you can learn about the natural history of the area, find out about road closure's and weather updates, grab a map or pick up permits for hiking Mt Whitney. They have restroom facilities and you can fill up water bottles here.
If you have the time... and you are in GREAT physical shape, this is where you would begin your journey hiking Mt Whitney. At 14,508ft, Mt Whitney is the lower 48's highest peak and is a prime destination for hikers, climbers and mountaineers around the world. The trail is 21 miles with 6000ft elevation gain and from our personal experience, it is definitely not to be taken lightly. You can read more about our Hike up Mt Whitney. Even if you are not a keen hiker, the drive up to Whitney Portal (8,374ft) is beautiful and worth the drive. There are a number of short hiking trails up there, a campground, a store and restaurant.
Look for accommodation in Lone Pine below:
Lone Pine to Bristlecone Pine Forest - 42 miles
About 10 miles north of Lone Pine is the Manzanar National Historic Site. Manzanar preserves and interprets the legacy of over 110,000 Japanese- American's who were incarcerated here during World War II. There is no entrance fee and the Visitor Center is open daily. Allow about and hour here and if you have time, be sure to watch the 22 minute film 'Remebering Manzanar"
Fossil Falls is an easy 0.2 mile hike, but don't get your hopes up... despite its name there is no waterfall. Instead you will find some really cool shiny black lava that has been worn smooth over thousands of years.
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is home to the world's oldest living tree's. Some of the tree's here are over 4,700 years old making them the OLDEST LIVING THINGS on the planet! Getting here is a bit of a mission but we promise its worth it. Take Highway 168 at Big Pine and from here it is about 26 miles to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest National Scenic Byway and then another 45 minute drive up a long, steep and windy road. To learn more, read Your Guide to Visiting the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Big Pine Lakes Trail is a 11.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Big Pine, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate, be prepared to walk quite a bit before the lakes. however, you will see a lot of great scenery before you get to the lakes. we started at the cabins to the lakes and let me tell you, by far the most beautiful views I have ever se
Big Pine to Bishop - 15 miles
We love Bishop. Bishop is a mellow small town with spectacular views of the Sierra's to the west and the White Mountains to the east. Even though there is not a lot to do in town, there are a lot of outdoor activities at your fingertips such as hiking, bouldering and fishing. Bishop is also where you would take Buttermilk road out to the Buttermilk Boulders. The Buttermilks is a spectacular place with big rounded boulders at the foothills of the Sierra's. Even if you aren't into rock climbing or bouldering it is worth a visit because the Buttermilks offer some of the most majestic views of the eastern Sierras. From here, you get the best views of Mount Tom, Basin Mountain, Mount Humphreys and Mount Emerson.
Bishop to Mammoth Lakes - 42 miles
As you head towards Mammoth Lakes, you will pass Benton Crossing road which has a tiny green church on the corner. You want to take a right turn here if you want to visit the hot springs or Hot Creek Geologic Park. The most popular of the hot springs in the area is called Wild Willy's and you need to go over two cattle grids before you come to a dirt road on your right. Take that all the way to the end.
To get to Hot Creek Geologic Park, continue down the road until you reach Whitmore Tubs road and take a left and keep going. At Hot Creek you can see geology in action; boiling water bubbling up from the creek bed, fumaroles and periodic geyser eruptions.
After your relaxing soak, head on up to the town of Mammoth Lakes to grab lunch or dinner. There are too many good options for places to eat and a lot of the bars offer really good happy hour deals. We like Slocum's and John's Pizza Works. Depending on the time of year you visit, you can spend your time on the slopes in the winter or go hiking in the summer.
Be sure to check out the Devils Postpile Monument if you at here in the summer
which is an unusual rock formation of columnar basalt. Two miles downstream from Devils Postpile is Rainbow Falls, where the San Joaquin River tumbles over a 101 foot drop, sending rainbows of color into the mist.
Mammoth Lakes to June Lake - 20 miles
June Lake and the June Lake loop drive is a stunning drive through alpine scenery where the road winds past a series of sparkling glacial lakes that are surrounded by majestic jagged peaks. The area is particularly beautiful in the fall. Activities in the area include fishing, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding and canoeing.
June Lake to Lee Vining - 14 miles
Mono Lake is a beautiful ancient lake that reflects the snow capped peaks in its perfectly still waters. The most unusual feature of Mono Lake are its dramatic tufa towers which form when underwater springs rich in calcium mix with the waters of the lake that are rich in carbonates. Over time the buildup of limestone formed towers and when the water level of the lake dropped the towers became exposed. The greatest concentration of these towers is located at the South Tufa area of Highway 395. The lake is also home to millions of brine shrimp which provide habitat for birds that feed and rest here in the summer months.
Lee Vining to Bridgeport - 25 miles
One of our favorite places that we have visited in the USA would have to be Bodie State Historical Park. Bodie is a gold-mining ghost town where visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. Bodie had a bad reputation and it is reported that at one point there were 65 saloons in town. Among the saloons were numerous brothels, gambling halls and opium dens. Today, the California State Parks System maintains the 100 or so structures that remain ins a state of arrested decay. To get here take Highway 395 to highway 270 and drive 10 miles east until the paved road ends, then continue for 3 miles of an unpaved dirt road.
End your trip in the quiet but cute town of Bridgeport. From here you can decide whether you would like to continue with your road trip to Lake Tahoe or head back south and over Tioga Pass to Yosemite National Park or San Francisco.
Start Planning Your Trip!
Have you booked accommodation yet? If not then take a look at Bookings.com who have a huge selection of hotels, bed & breakfasts, lodges, hostels and even campgrounds. They have daily deals and discounts so its a good idea to keep an eye on rates. The best thing about this website is there is no booking fee and no charge for cancellations. Search rooms below.
No road trip is going to happen without wheels so unless you have your own vehicle we recommend car hire through Avis. We have always been happy with how hassle free renting is through them and even better are their super cheap rates when you book online. Believe me you will be blown away by how cheap! Even though we have our own van we have chosen to rent for short getaways because it saves us gas money instead of driving our beast.
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Everyone knows the beaches in Los Angeles county can get really crowded, but did you know it is possible to find more secluded beaches just north of Santa Monica? Okay, so you might not have the beach all to yourself on a hot weekend in the middle of summer but there is a strong possibility during a weekday. Here are our top picks for best beaches between Santa Monica and Ventura. They make great day trips or even a fun weekend away.
Death Valley National Park is America's largest national park. Yes, this national park is larger than Yellowstone! In my opinion, it is also one of the best. Even though the name Death Valley does not sound that appealing, we were extremely looking forward to scorching temperatures after completing a ski season at Mammoth Mountain.
We had originally planned to stay for only two nights but we enjoyed our time here so much we ended up staying for over a week. Part of this was due to the pleasant stay we had at Stovepipe Wells campground and also because we had no idea that the park was so big and there was so much to explore.
Discover the Oldest Living Things on Earth! Your Guide to Visiting the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
THE ANCIENT BRISTLECONE PINE FOREST
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is home to the world's oldest living tree's. Some of these gnarled and twisted tree's are over 4,700 years old making them the OLDEST LIVING THINGS on the planet! To put that in perspective, these tree's started their life out back when stone axes were still being used in Europe.
The Bristlecone Pine Forest is situated in the White Mountains of the Eastern Sierra's and the tree's grow at an altitude between 9,800 and 11,00 feet. The White Mountains themselves are pretty spectacular as they are over 14,000 feet in elevation but are not as well-known as other mountain ranges of the same height in America. There is a visitor's center at Schulman Grove which is open generally from May through to October depending on snow conditions.
If you can plan your visit in the warmer months and not in late November like us, you will have a much more pleasant experience. It can get freezing up there because of the elevation.
For some people, New Years Eve is about partying and drinking but for us this year it was all about hitting the road and having an outdoor adventure (as it had been awhile). At first we couldn't decide between Joshua Tree and Mammoth Lakes but after seeing the mass of crowds headed for Joshua our decision was made easier.
We made our way out of sprawling L.A. with no plans other then to stop as we please along the way but with hopes to get a decent snow storm before we got to Mammoth (as they had been mentioning for the past week).
Welcome to the Golden State. Whether you are a sun worshipper, an outdoor enthusiast, into exhilerating sports, a foodie or love road tripping to see quirky attractions, California has it all! From towering mountains to idyllic palm tree beaches to deserts that are perfect for finding solitude. Here is the Ultimate California Bucket List.
A couple of weeks ago we climbed Mt Whitney. At 14,508ft, Mt Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. I had wanted to climb Whitney ever since I was seventeen when I had stumbled across Galen Rowell's 'The Art of Adventure' at a second hand bookstore all the way back in Australia, where nobody even knows what the Eastern Sierra's are. The trail itself is 21 miles (33km) with 6000ft elevation gain and is not to be taken lightly.
The historic Columbia River Highway was the first scenic highway in the United States and is designated a National Historic Landmark. The highway is about 75 miles long between Troutdale and the Dalles in Oregon and travels through the Columbia Gorge, transitioning between temperate rainforest to dry grasslands in only 80 miles. The area is best known for its high concentration of waterfalls but is also a popular destination for hiking, mountain-biking, fishing, watersports and sight-seeing. The Columbia River Gorge is the perfect day trip from Portland on a hot summer's day or worth road tripping out to spend a week or two to fully explore the area.
Road tripping the Oregon coast was a spur of the moment decision. We were in Portland trying to figure out our next move - which was going to be heading straight to the Californian border then hugging the coastline from there. It was the middle of winter and we had been avoiding living out of the van (road tripping in the cold just ain't fun) and wanted to find some warmer weather asap... But we thought to ourselves, why waste the opportunity to see a beautiful coastline?
The Northern California coast is beautiful, breathtaking and rugged. Our first stop after crossing the Oregon border was Crescent City. Even though Lonely Planet says this coastal town is not worth stopping at, we ended up staying for a couple of days because it had a nice mellow vibe and felt like a safe place to stay in the van. It has all the large chain stores so we stocked up on cooking supplies and found some wifi to check emails. There is a large park by the Visitors Center that is great for picnicking or stretching your legs, which is what we did.
I was determined to find some waves but there wasn’t much swell. We found a safe place to park overnight right by the water where we could check the surf right from our bed and cook while watching the waves roll in. It was epic to say the least!
Fort Bragg is a sleepy little ex-logging town located in Mendocino County on the Northern California coast, not too far from the famous gigantic Redwood trees of Avenue of the Giants. Fort Bragg’s coastline is littered with cove after cove and headland after headland making you think that around the next point will be the perfect setup with pumping waves, but this just isn’t the case. Most of the beaches are sand bottom and seem to struggle to hold banks. However, there are a few places that hold big waves in some pretty sketchy spots. Towing-in would be more appropriate if you were wanting to tackle some of these waves.
Road trips are easily the best American pastime; from jaunts into the Great Smoky Mountains to the classic Route 66 family adventure, to visiting America's Best National Parks. It is with great happiness that it’s picking back up as one of the country’s favorite ways to get out of town and escape into travel mode. But unlike yesteryear, there’s plenty of apps to help get rid of the blues when driving across country, whether you’re going on a solo journey or taking the whole crew. So before you head out, make sure you’re a little download happy, and check out these picks!
Two Aussies road-tripping across the USA. Our goal is to discover America's wild places and vibrant cities... and make the most of every moment. Read more