Traveling along Highway 395 in California

A great many RV travel bloggers have written and featured traveling along Highway 395 in California, particularly Lone Pine to Topaz Lake. It was high on our list of routes. We knew our pace wouldn’t allow for extended stays at any one stop but we could handle 2-3 sites for a couple days each. That we did!

Lone Pine/Alabama Hills

Most famous for it’s connection to the filming of old westerns, Alabama Hills is just a short five minute drive west of Lone Pine on the Whitney Portal Road. A sizable portion is free BLM boondocking among the coolest old rock formations! There are a couple of pay campgrounds in the vicinity as well. We drove through three of them and decided only the Tuttle Creek BLM campground would be suitable for any future visit to the area. We preferred the open free area to the north. What gorgeous scenery! You are surrounded by very old rounded boulders where one can find a few arches weathered to their current form. In addition, towering above you to the west are the Eastern Sierra’s and the tallest peak in the continental US – Mount Whitney. Alabama Hills deserves a much longer visit!

Mike at Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, CA.

Mike at Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, CA.

The drive between our Lone Pine and Bodie campsites was one of the most scenic of our entire 345 mile stretch of Highway 395. Especially beautiful was the section between Bishop and Mammoth Lake. Thick stands of Ponderosa Pine lined the road reminding me of central Oregon. Clear blue streams and rivers full with spring flow. It felt so PNWish …but not quite! We made note of it and will spend more time here another trip.

We seem to say that a lot!

Camping at Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, California.

Camping at Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, California.

The only significant stop we made this travel day was at the Manzanar National Historic Site north of Lone Pine. We hadn’t planned this stop but because Patricia remembered doing a high school book report on this internment camp we had to pull off and check it out. It wasn’t the kind of stop you come away feeling exhilarated – just a deep sense of sadness for those US citizens wrongly treated.

Manzanar National Historic Site in California.

Manzanar National Historic Site in California.

Bodie

We tried to find a boondocking spot on Mono Lake but they all seemed to be occupied. Patricia wanted to photograph the “tufa towers” lining the lake edge. They are calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. We drove north a bit more and found a known overnight parking spot at the entrance to BLM’s Bodie Hills. Before departing next morning, we spent 2-3 hours exploring the ghost town of Bodie just east of our campsite. It is quite extensive and we might have stayed longer but this 12th day of May seemed to be hatch day for seriously hungry biting gnats! We both looked like we had a hundred mosquito bites! We suffered several days of intense itching! Not fun! I managed to work through an interesting virtual geocache hunt requiring quite a bit of walking and finding answers to questions.

Our quick trek up 395 came to a close a day later after a short visit with my youngest brother in Carson City followed by an uneventful overnight in the Susanville Walmart parking lot. We were glad to have chosen this route despite the accelerated pace – we shall return!