We have camping/backpacking reservations in June for Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Yosemite National Parks. With all that to look forward to, we didn’t know what to do between San Francisco and the parks. Fortunately, several people along our travels told us to visit the Eastern Sierras on Highway 395. In fact, a friend described these mountains as “magical”, and we now know why.
We planned to drive over the mountains on Sunday from our stop in Plymouth at the Harvest Host and find some boondocking. Unfortunately, most of the areas we tried first didn’t work. Several areas were closed because of COVID, and places that didn’t close didn’t have cell service. Although we weren’t crazy about it, we landed in Gardnerville, Nevada on Sunday night on some BLM land.
The area had pretty views of the mountains and good cell service but wasn’t close to anything. Also, we parked next to a washing machine that had been blown up and read a few reviews that made us cautious about full time residents there. We planned to leave on Monday, but after a full/windy workday, we decided we could stay another night.
Mill Creek Road
On Tuesday morning, we hit the road by 7:30. We planned to drive south on 395 and end up somewhere between Bridgeport and Mono Lake. The drive on Highway 395 is absolutely beautiful with blue lakes and snow capped mountains everywhere.
Leigh did the research and found a spot near Mono Lake on ioverlander.com that one of our friends added years ago. I unhooked the Jeep and scouted out area while Leigh handled a work call. The spot is one of our favorite boondocking spots so far. It’s right next to a creek and close to great hiking. We felt lucky to find this spot, but we didn’t realize how lucky we were until later that afternoon.
We set up camp and had a great work day. As we got closer to finishing up the work day, I stood up to stretch my legs for a second and barely noticed something walking by the RV. At first I thought it was a dog, but I quickly realized it must be a really big dog! I ran to Leigh’s window just in time for us to watch a mountain lion walk right next to us. We both were kind of in awe. Fortunately, Leigh videoed the whole thing. The encounter was amazing, but also kind of freaked us out a little. The lion was pretty skinny, and we thought something may not be right about it. From what we have heard, mountain lions don’t walk through campsites that often.
Our campsite had good but not great views, but the surrounding mountains had unbelievable views. Lundy Canyon is a short drive, and we did two hikes there. We did the first around Lundy Lake after work one day.
We did the second longer hike through Lundy Canyon on Saturday. The Lundy Canyon hike had waterfalls everywhere, and we had to cut it a little short because of snow.
We also drove south of Mono Lake to Panum Crater for a quick after work hike one day. Panum Crater is a volcanic cone that contains pumice and obsidian. It’s beautiful and definitely worth the drive.
The Eastern Sierras have indeed been magical so far, and we are glad to have stumbled onto this beautiful area of the country.