The Ultimate Eastern Sierra Road Trip

eastern sierra map california

The scenery we experienced on this Eastern Sierra Road Trip was totally unexpected. I hadn’t done any research so when it unfolded with each winding turn I was pleasantly surprised with out of this world views, strange and unusual sights and the brightest colour’s I have ever seen. The distance itself is not that long however all the stopping and starting takes up the time and boy there is a lot of beautiful sights to see. We took the whole day but you could easily take more.

Here are our highlights:

  1. Tioga Pass

After sufficient hiking and wildlife watching in Yosemite, head off to the high country and drive over Tioga Pass which is located in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada – the most spectacular region of one of the most dramatic mountain ranges in the world.

Located at 9641 feet elevation, TP is surrounded by the lakes, rivers, meadows, and mountains of Yosemite National Park, the Inyo National Forest, and the Mono Basin National Scenic Area. Take this drive slowly and stop at the various viewpoints along the way or even hike some of the beautiful hikes.

tioga pass yosemite

tioga pass yosemite california

inyo national forest yosemite

  1. Mono Lake

I think this is one of the strangest places on earth – it almost looks like a planet.

We stumbled upon Mono Lake after our trip to Yosemite National Park and I found myself absolutely in awe of the place. It had such an unusual beauty it drew me in and enveloped me in its spell.

Here is my impression of this strange Californian wonder…

mono lake visitor centre

mono lake california

  1. June Lake Loop

Definitely consider this 15 mile loop through (in Autumn), a palate of brilliant autumn hues from a sunshine yellow to the richest orange, add to that – mirror like lake views with dramatic mountain scenery and you’ll have seen your best Autumn yet. If you are not there in autumn, apparently they have bright coloured flowers in spring and a beautiful snowy layering in winter.

june lake loop

june lake drive california

june lake photos

  1. Mt Whitney

You don’t have to drive far to see the highest summit in the US. With an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m), you will find yourself wanting to climb it. We have added it to our next trip. You can do a heart-stopping 12-mile scenic drive up Whitney Portal Road to get a closer view.

mt whitney california

mt whitney hike lone pine

  1. Lone Pine

Take the drive to see the bizarrely shaped boulders of Alabama Hills, which have enchanted the makers of Hollywood Westerns, with many films having been made there. We stayed in quirky little Lone Pine for the night at the historic 1922 Dow Villa Motel where John Wayne and Errol Flynn stayed many years ago and woke up to gorgeous views of Mt Whitney. We woke up bright and refreshed ready to brave Death Valley.

alabama hills rock formations lone pine

alabama hills rock formations lone pine

So there you have our top 5 spots to see on this Eastern Sierra Nevada road trip. You really see it all.

Other stopovers to consider are Mammoth Lakes and Devils Postpile National Monument. We couldn’t fit them in but heard they were worth a visit.

Happy Travels!

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