Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default Off the beaten path in the Owens Valley (US 395)

    After reading all the threads about how to get from San Francisco to Las Vegas via US 395, I get the feeling many are in such a rush that they miss some of the wonders that lie along either side of the Owens Valley.

    Last week I took my family and some friends up US 395 as far as Bishop. We discovered that the Dow Villa Motel in Lone Pine wasn't the only decent place to stay-- the Mt. Williamson Motel in Independence was nice, too.

    We also took some scenic detours to see Onion Valley, the bristlecone pines, and Cerro Gordo.

    Onion Valley is a campground and a trailhead near the Kearsarge Pass, about 10 miles west of Independence (9,200 feet elevation). If you are passing through Independence in the summer and want to camp in a more hopsitable environment, the Onion Valley campground is about 20 degrees cooler than down in town. The fee for camping is $16 per night, and there are a number of first-come-first-served sites, as well as those that can be reserved on line. It's far too cold in the winter, so the campground is probably open from June through September or so. The remains of the first Kearsarge ghost town (buried in an avalanche back in the late 1850s to 1860s) are visible on the road up to Onion Valley.

    The bristlecone pine forest can be reached by heading east on CA 168 from Big Pine. The drive takes about an hour from Big Pine and leads you up to some high elevation in the White Mountains, also. The bristlecone pines are the world's oldest living creatures, and the oldest is said to be about 4,700 years old. The view of the Sierra Nevada range and Owens Valley is breathtaking, so I thought it was definitely worth the side trip.

    Cerro Gordo is one of the best non-touristy ghost towns left in California. There is a caretaker there to look after things, and the owner gets groups of volunteers together every so often to keep it maintained. It is a 21 miles drive up a narrow dirt road outside of Keeler (the east side of Owens Lake on CA 136). The town was part of a silver bonanza that helped grow Los Angeles into a city back in the late 1860s to 1880s. Millions of dollars worth of silver-lead bullion was shipped through Los Angeles, and in return the miners bought lots of crops and supplies from LA merchants and farmers. Recently the Cerro Gordo Road and the Alabama Hills (to the west of Owens Lake) were used in the Iron Man movie to represent Afghanistan.

    I'll post photos later.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Did someone say "pictures" !

    Your quite right, there are some lovely areas to be explored along the route that are all to often passed by, in to many cases people only have 2 or 3 nights to get from SF to Vegas via DV and Yosemite. I hope one day I will be able find time to explore that area in more depth. [along with many others].

    I am looking forward to seeing the pictures for now though !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    This is Cerro Gordo



    This is one of Cerro Gordo's best preserved buildings, the American Hotel.


    Cerro Gordo Road stood in for Afghanistan in the movie "Iron Man".


    The tailings from the closest mine contained malachite and other colorful minerals.


    One of the world's oldest living creatures.


    The Sierra Nevada Range's eastern slopes as seen from the White Mountains.


    Our base camp in Onion Valley, about 9 1/2 miles dues west of Independence.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default Resources for US 395

    If any SUV drivers are planning a trip along US 395 in California, I highly recommend Motor Touring in the Eastern Sierra. I picked up the Inyo and Mono County editions of the free guide, published by the BLM, CalTrans, Forest Service, and others.

    You can get a PDF copy here:http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/bishop/suv/index.html
    or you can pick up a free copy at the Interagency Visitor Center just south of Lone Pine. Many businesses along US 395 also have free copies.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Wow!

    Hey thanks for the quick look at that mountain hideaway -- I've wanted to take that road for the longest time.

    Very cool!

    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    777

    Default In the not-free section

    Quote Originally Posted by shirohniichan View Post
    If any SUV drivers are planning a trip along US 395 in California, I highly recommend Motor Touring in the Eastern Sierra. I picked up the Inyo and Mono County editions of the free guide, published by the BLM, CalTrans, Forest Service, and others.

    You can get a PDF copy here:http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/bishop/suv/index.html
    or you can pick up a free copy at the Interagency Visitor Center just south of Lone Pine. Many businesses along US 395 also have free copies.
    I also like Tony Huegel's "Byways" series; designed for 4X4 "dummies" like me. If I recall, the "Sierra" version covers a number of routes on the eastern side.

    Slightly more detailed is Massey's "Backcountry Adventures" series.

    I own some of both, and no, I haven't used them nearly as much as I would have liked to. Someday maybe. No, I didn't buy the Utah version, so didn't adequately research Shafer Trail. sigh.

    Also: Mammoth Lakes offers some great hiking opportunities, esp if you take the shuttle over the crest down to Devil's Postpile. You can do a nice half-day hike from there to Rainbow Falls, and then back to Red's Meadow resort where you can have an ice cream and/or a beer while you wait for the shuttle to loop around there to pick you up. Be sure to check the schedules to make sure the shuttle is scheduled to Red's Meadow when you take the hike.

Similar Threads

  1. July Road Trip - San Fran to Monument Valley to Vegas
    By Cassia in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 06-19-2009, 09:10 AM
  2. Please, take me off the beaten path.
    By Lifemagician in forum Off the Beaten Path
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 05-08-2009, 05:33 PM
  3. Off the beaten path Colorado Springs
    By BadByron in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-04-2007, 09:47 AM
  4. Need input for Monument Valley - Joshua Tree NP Leg
    By dabstar in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 05-10-2007, 08:14 AM
  5. planning 1st RT across US & need help!!
    By texas_angel in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 06-17-2006, 10:18 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name

    Loading...



  • MORE STORIES