Exploring the Eastern Sierras

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It’s Halloween time, and what a perfect time of year to visit (and then blog) about a ghost town!

For years I’ve wanted to visit the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range. My parents have been to the area a few times, and I loved their photos. I made it one of my three goals for 2017 (along with going to Italy, which I did, and reading “Crime and Punishment” which I also did!), and I convinced a friend and colleague JoLynn to join me. Shout-out to JoLynn for being a wonderful travel partner and my photographer—she gets the credit for most of our photos! I specifically wanted to go to Bodie, and decided to also see Mono Lake given that it’s so close.

My 2017 goals-DONE!

We completely lucked out on the weather. It was perfect. It wasn’t hot, but it wasn’t cold yet. We had such a great time exploring and bonding. And, it was a great opportunity for me to travel with someone else.

My co-pilot!


We decided to stay in Mammoth Lakes; there is not much else near Bodie or Mono Lake. Mammoth Lakes is a bit bigger (since there is a ski resort there). We stayed at the Shilo Inn. It was perfectly fine for our trip. Shilo Inn’s tend to be a little outdated, but all the rooms are big and some are suites-for a regular room! It had a free breakfast as well. For the price, this hotel was a great option. Another nice thing about Mammoth Lakes was the free tram around town. We didn’t have to worrying about parking or driving. So we definitely took advantage and hit up some bars!


For once, I remember where we ate! Mammoth Tavern had a great happy hour. We went both nights we were in town. The onion dip is AMAZING and during happy hour it’s $2. Yep, I ordered it twice. It was that good. We also went to the Clocktower Cellar, which was more like a dive bar. It seemed like a place that locals would go, which we liked. We walked around the Village a bit, but that was really touristy. The next night we went to Liberty Bar. The vibe was fine and they had live music. We also went to Schat’s Bakery (pronounced “shots”); apparently it’s an amazing bakery, and I had a donut that was good, but nothing special. But I did get some toffee what was incredible!

Us waiting for the city tram in Mammoth Lakes

The sites!

We drove to the area via Tioga Pass. I had never been that route before-it was great to see Yosemite from another side. We stopped at Olmstead Point and took the walk/hike out to the scenic views. While out there, a couple asked us to take their photo, and they took ours. We talked for a bit and found out they live near Indianapolis, where JoLynn and I are headed next month! And they are former 4-Hers as well! We didn’t catch their names, but decided to call them Bill and Joan.


From there we drove into Lee Vining. We stopped at the visitor’s center to find out where to see the tufa towers at Mono Lake. I’ll admit, my first view of Mono Lake was mixed-it was pretty but in a desolate sort of way. It seemed like the high desert with a lake plopped in it. The tufas were interesting to see. Tufas are formed under the water and become exposed as the lake level drops. I enjoyed walking around and see the tufas and definitely recommend stopping to see them. But beware-there are a ton of these little alkaline flies around. It’s also a $3 charge per car and there isn’t an ATM or credit card machine so have cash!


From there, we took the recommended route to Mammoth Lakes via the June Lake scenic route (along Highway 158). This drive was so worth the extra time. The mountains were gorgeous with snow on top and the afternoon sun. And given that it was starting into fall, the aspens were changing color. There were patches of this gorgeous orange color; our photos just did not do it justice. This is a great route, if you have time, drive it! Then we made it into Mammoth, settled in the hotel, and hit the happy hour at Mammoth Tavern!



Update: Check out my post on Bodie!


Devil’s Postpile

From Bodie, we headed back to Mammoth Lakes, and had our happy hour and dinner around town. The next morning, we got up early, went to Schat’s and then headed out to Devil’s Postpile. This was about a 35-minute drive from the hotel, partially because we got to drive all the way into the park and the site. During the summer months, you normally have to take a shuttle from the main parking area/entrance to Devil’s Postpile, because the parking lot nearby is so small. We got there early, and there were only a few cars. But by the time we left, the parking lot was full and there was a line at the main entrance a few miles up the road. So go early, and off-season!

Devil’s Postpile was also an amazing site. We stood staring at the columns just trying to figure out how they formed-especially the curved ones. We still don’t get it! We quickly realized that all the rock at our feet was pieces of the columns that had broken off. This is another must-see site in the area!


From there, we drove home. We stopped in Lee Vining for lunch, and then took the Sonora Pass home. This route was gorgeous. I loved the drive; it was so beautiful. And again, there were so many aspens changing color. I think that early fall time was the best time to go; the weather was clear and the colors around the whole area were just magical.

And that’s my exploration of the far east side of the state! You can see all the photos of our trip here:

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