Hot Springs, Skiing, and Glimpses of the Old West: Road Tripping the Sierra’s Route 395
Travel U.S. Route 395 for 150 scenic miles, from Lone Pine, CA (near Mt. Whitney) north to Bridgeport, in the vicinity of Mono Lake
Whether you’re a Southern Californian searching for snow or a Northerner migrating to warmer climes, you can’t go wrong on U.S. Route 395, one of the most scenic routes in the state. While many folks on this road are zipping straight to Mammoth Mountain (California’s highest ski resort), we prefer to take our time. And we’re particularly fond of the miles between Lone Pine and Bridgeport, which hug the snowcapped Sierras and are dotted with alpine lakes, hidden hot springs, and tiny towns big on charm.
JAKE’S SALOON, LONE PINE: Try a Mammoth Brewing Company beer (just one—you’re driving), play a round of shuffleboard, and listen for tall tales about Mt. Whitney at this small-town honky-tonk, swinging doors and all.
MANZANAR NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE: Confront the state’s troubled past at the best preserved of ten Japanese-American internment camps, which between 1942 and 1945 held more than 120,000 Japanese Americans. It is now a place of remembrance and edification.
COPPER TOP BBQ, BIG PINE: Sample as much of the menu as your stomach can handle at this father/son-owned BBQ joint, boasting a year-round outdoor smoker, award-winning St. Louis-style ribs, and a killer fire-roasted green chili.
MAHOGANY SMOKED MEATS, BISHOP: Stock up on all manner of dried meats, from wild boar to elk and buffalo—plus 26 types of beef jerky, ten types of turkey jerky, and sausages to boot—at this local smokehouse (which is very generous with its samples).
WILD WILLY’S HOT SPRINGS: Soak your bones in these popular natural springs and you might rub elbows with a Yosemite ranger, a Mammoth ski instructor, or a world-renowned climber.
JUNE MOUNTAIN, MAMMOTH: Sneak in a half-day at laid-back June Mountain, known for great powder skiing and short lift lines—and for letting kids under age 12 ski free every day of the season.
ALBERT’S MEAT MARKET & DELI, BRIDGEPORT: Build the best sandwich this side of the Sierras with the help of Tracy (Albert’s successor) at this powder-blue butcher shop and deli that’s been slinging supersized sandwiches and steaks for more than 25 years.