When Kenon first named our summer road trip the “Sierra Nevada Trip,” I had no idea what he was talking about. It sounded to me like we would be spending a lot of time in the deserts of western Nevada. I was so off! The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in eastern California that is chock full of beautiful views, sights, camping, hiking, backpacking, swimming, and this list could really go on for so long. Our Sierra Nevada Trip started south in Lone Pine and ended north in Lake Tahoe. I absolutely fell in love with the Sierra Nevada mountains. Here are my top 7 highlights and the reasons you need to add this region to your trip list.
1. Beautiful, Low-Key Backpacking
Our original plan was to backpack to the peak of Mount Whitney, the tallest summit in the contiguous 48 states. We could not obtain permits, though, which left us scrambling for a Plan B. Lucky for us, the Sierra Nevada has endless backpacking opportunities. We chose to backpack part of the Big Pine Lakes trail as far as second lake. Find the route on AllTrails. It’s a 13.5 mile loop trail, but we stopped at Second Lake so we could camp under the glorious Temple Crag. I can honestly say that, to date, this is the most beautiful campsite I have ever stayed at.
Big Pine Lakes is just a small taste of all the backpacking opportunities the Sierra Nevada has to offer.
2. The National Parks
Home to Yosemite, King’s Canyon, and Sequoia, there are endless classic American sights to see. We did not get to enjoy the national parks on this trip due to wildfires in the area. We did stop into Yosemite long enough to learn how it so easily captured John Muir’s heart. We were quickly driven out by the wildfire smoke, though, and had to move on.
3. The Lakes
This area is full of alpine and glacial lakes. The water is vibrantly blue, and crisply clean. A lot of the shores have been claimed by busy campgrounds and recreation sites. If you’re willing to get off the beaten path, though, you can still find some serene spots.
4. Not to mention, Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is one of those places that people avoid because it is too expensive and too crowded. This post will help you get around the expense and this post will help you get around the crowds. There is a reason people flock to Lake Tahoe. It is an alpine paradise filled with endless possibilities and views.
5. Mammoth Lakes Brewing
Mammoth Lakes is a ski resort town that turns into a mountain biking haven during the summer. It is home to a little brewery that boasts indoor and outdoor seating and yard games. Mammoth Lakes Brewery also brews the best beer I have ever had. I am more of a whiskey girl than a beer girl. My husband is the craft beer person of the family. However, we found a beer we can agree on at Mammoth Lakes Brewery. Their “Blondibock” is a blonde ale aged in bourbon barrels. It is smooth drinking with complex flavors that satisfy all the taste buds. The four of us at our table agreed that this beer is our #1 recommended beer from this trip.
6. The town of Bridgeport
Disappointed and frustrated that our Yosemite plans had been quashed, we reluctantly headed northeast toward Tahoe. We ended up in Bridgeport just in time for supper which would turn out to be a huge blessing and hidden gem.
Bridgeport is a small town in the Sierra Nevada region. Learn about what makes it so great by visiting this post.
7. Hot Springs
In our haste to get to Lake Tahoe, we almost missed these hot springs. Travertine Hot Springs are natural springs located less than 10 minutes away from downtown Bridgeport. Follow these directions from The Outbound to find your way to the springs. Take the trail that starts at the bathroom and walk over the ridge. The hot springs are at the bottom of the ridge, less than a quarter-mile from the parking lot.
These are just a few of the amazing sights from Sierra Nevada. It is so expansive and lively that you could spend weeks here and still not see the end of it.