Highway 395 Roadtrip Stops: Hikes, Food, Fossils & Lakes

Highway 395 is probably my favorite road in California. It is the road that parallels the Eastern Sierra’s and provides access to some of the best hiking, lakes and adventures you can find in California. I have driven the portion from Victorville to Reno many times and wanted to compile my top recommendations for stops along a Highway 395 road trip. This is an ever-growing post though, and I hope you will offer additional suggestions to other wanders in the comments below. The ideas in this post are in order from South (Victorville) to North (Reno / Lassen), and you can see them on a map at the end of this post.

Old Fashioned Soda’s at Randsburg General Store (15-30 minutes)

Randsburg 16

The town that time forgot, Randsburg itself is located 2 minutes off the road, but since the road does not go straight through it, it does not receive a lot of visitors. The main little strip of town is a fun place for a stop, especially if you like antiques. The soda fountain at the general store even uses phosphates like in the old days to make a mean lime soda.

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  • Address: 35 Butte Ave, Randsburg, CA 93554

Indian Well’s Brewing Company (15 minutes)

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At a short two miles from the highway, Indian Brewing Company is a fun stop. This brewery not only makes beer but they also make all of the soda for the company Rocket Fizz. There are over 120 sodas here ranging from Root Beer and Cream Soda to Churro Soda and even Ranch Dressing Soda. It’s a fun stop for the whole family if you like weird stuff like this.

  • Location: 2565 CA-14, Inyokern, CA 93527

Hubcap Capital of the World (10 minutes)

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This blink and you will miss it spot in Pearsonville is home to the 25-foot tall women and the sign designating it as the hubcap capital of the world. I don’t know much about the history, but it is a fun spot to take a photo.

  • Address: 3 Pearson Rd, Inyokern, CA 93527

Fossil Falls (30 minutes to an hour)

fossil falls

This stop is one of the places that everyone sees the sign for but no one stops at. It is a fantastic piece of history though and a great place to explore for 30 minutes. The ground is covered in volcanic rock and while there is no water flowing for the “falls” the stark contrast it presents with what is around it is enough for a great stop.

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  • Location: Fossil Falls Access Rd, California (general location, no exact address)

Twilight Zone House (5 minutes)

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This short stop doesn’t have much to see, but it is still fun to take a picture of the house that was prominently featured in an episode of the Twilight Zone. It is in the South outskirts of the town of Orlancha right near the town of Grant.

  • Location: Grant, California 93549

Statues of Highway 395 (15 minutes)

395 Sculptures 11

If you want to see the statues, then make sure you keep your eyes peeled to the left side of the road as you drive North. There are no signs for them, but they are big enough that you will see them if you are looking. The statues all have some sort of social meaning, and they are really well made.

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  • Address: North of Grant in the South part of Olancha, no exact address

Gus Fresh Jerky (10 minutes)

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No doubt you have seen the signs for Gus’s Fresh Jerky over the last 200 miles. They do a great job of marketing to you every chance they get, and it does make you hungry for some jerky. I will say that I was impressed with the jerky when I had it. It was moist and full of flavor, which leads me to pick up a bag pretty much each time I drive past.

  • Location: 580 S Hwy 395 Olancha, CA 93549

Lemon House (5 minutes)

Lemon House-1

Another fun roadside stop. Not much to see here either other than the lemon house itself. I have never seen any people here, but I always like to jump out for a photo with the house and the dinosaur.

  • Address: Near- 217 Lake St Cartago, CA 93549

Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns (20 minutes)

highway 395 update-2

Right before you reach the town of Big Pine you will see a Historical Marker sign for the turn out for the Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns. I highly recommend taking it and driving down the one-mile dirt road (I did it in a 2WD car) to see the historic kilns. There are only two left, but they are beautiful and well maintained. Be sure to keep it that way.

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  • Location: Keep your eyes peeled for the National Landmark sign.

Lone Pine Film Museum (30 minutes – 1 hour)

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If you are a fan of cowboy movies, then you cannot drive this road without a stop here. The museum has so many great artifacts from the decades of filming that happened in the hills outside of Lone Pine. Even if you do not love cowboy movies, there are a lot of other movies that have been filmed here as well, such as Gladiator and Tremors.

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  • Address: 701 S Main St, Lone Pine, CA 93545

Alabama Hills Cafe (45 minutes)

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One of my favorite places to eat on Highway 395 is the Alabama Hills Cafe. This small restaurant in the shadow of Mt Whitney provides great food and a lot of it. I especially recommend the pie.

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  • Address: 111 W Post St, Lone Pine, CA 93545

Alabama Hills (1 – 2 hours)

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The Alabama Hills are a collection of unique rock formations at the base of the Eastern Sierras. They have been in hundreds of movies over the years and are a place full of dirt roads that you can easily get lost exploring. I love spending time here and searching for arches while climbing rock formations.

Mobius Arch (30 minutes)

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The most well-known of the arches in the Alabama Hills is the Mobius Arch. It perfectly frames Mt Whitney and is much-loved by photographers. It is accessible via a dirt road and a short hike and is one of the few places in the hills that has a sign.

Manzanar Internment Camp (1 hour)

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The Manzanar Internment Camp represents a dark spot in US history and the Central California area. It is a must visit on the road as it gives you a much better understanding of the area itself and the camps that existed here.

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  • Address: Manzanar Reward Rd, California

Independence Courthouse (5 minutes)

Independence courthouse-1

This famous courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Sites and was built in 1921. It is still in use and is the courthouse for Inyo County. It is a beautiful building and worth the stop to see for a few minutes.

  • Address: 168 N Edwards St, Independence, CA 93526

Eastern Sierra Museum

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If you are a fan of California’s history like I am, then be sure to check out the Eastern Sierra Museum. This museum is one of the better ones along this drive as it has a ton of information on the people who made the area what it is today, from Native Americans to authors. There is also a large outdoor area which has different pieces of historic equipment as well.

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  • Location: 155 N Grant St, Independence, CA 93526

Mt Whitney Fish Hatchery

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North of the town of Independence sits a beautiful and historic fish hatchery. The building itself is a great spot for photography as it has a gorgeous pond in front of it with a lot of fish. When it is open, you can go into the hatchery and see the process the fish go through and when it isn’t open you can still walk around the grounds and have a picnic at the picnic tables.

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  • Location: 1 Golden Trout Cir, Independence, CA 93526

Copper Top BBQ (30 minutes)

Copper Top BBQ-1

Voted the best restaurant in the country by Yelp in 2014, Copper Top BBQ is a fantastic place for a meal. From the pulled pork to the tri-tip, everything is amazing here. It is only open from 12PM – 5PM though, or until they run out of meat, and it is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

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  • Address: 310 N Main St, Big Pine, CA 93513

Ancient Bristlecone Forest

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This is one of those stops that you easily need a half-day to a full day to see. Since it is about 45 minutes off the highway, I would not even consider doing it if you are in a rush though. The area is amazing,  with tons of unique trees, some that are over 4,000 years old. It is one of my favorite stops along the drive for photography.

North Fork of Big Pine

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If you have some time to do a long day hike or a backpacking trip, then grab a permit to hike the North Fork of Big Pine. This area is one of the most beautiful in all of California with blue glacial lakes and massive vistas. There is even a glacier you can see but you would need to backpack for that.

  • Read about the backpacking here and the glacier here (don’t go without a permit)
  • Location: Big Pine Creek Campground, Big Pine, CA

Bishop Creek (2 hours)

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There is no way to see all that Bishop Creek has to offer in a few hours, or even a few days, but it is a great place to drive through on a road trip. You can see high altitude lakes, waterfalls, and amazing fall colors if you go at the right time.

Erick Schat’s Bakery (30 minutes)

erick schats bakery

One of the most well-known spots on Highway 395 is Erick Schat’s Bakery in Bishop. This famous restaurant, home to the sheepherders bread, is a great stop for lunch on the drive. Even if you do not want a full meal you can still stop in for some sweets as they have a pretty amazing selection.

  • Address: 763 N Main St, Bishop, CA 93514

Law’s Train Museum (1-2 hours)

Laws Museum-1

This is one of the better museums I have been to in the state. It has a whole towns worth of recreated houses and a full nine car train in the middle. The museum is dedicated to the town and what it was like when the train actually ran through here. It also has a fantastic and interactive gold mining exhibit that they run on Wednesday and Thursday.

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  • Address: 395 Silver Canyon Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

Convict Lake (1 hour)

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Another place where you need more time than just a few hours, Convict Lake is a beautiful, accessible gateway into the Sierras. It has a massive lake and tons of hiking trails that lead into the backcountry. There is a lodge and camping available as well.

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs (30-45 minutes)

Hot Springs-1

One of the many hot springs located off Benton Crossing Road, South of the airport, Wild Willy’s is relatively easy to get to. After driving two miles down a dirt road, there is a small parking lot that leads to an elevated wooden walkway and eventually the hot springs. It truly is hot, and it is a fun adventure.

Crowley Lake Columns (1.5 hours)

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While this is an awesome spot for sure, I would not even try it without 4WD. The road to it is dirt and has lots of pot holes and steep sections, plus it is really remote. If you have 4WD and are comfortable driving on sand though then it can be a cool spot.

Hot Creek Geological Area (30 minutes)

Hot Creek-1

One exit up from the hot springs is the Hot Creek Geological Area. This spot is much like what you would see in Yellowstone, albeit on a much smaller scale. There are a few bubbling sulfur pools that have a bright blue hue to them, and it is a fun stop that is easy to see and right off the highway.

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  • Address: Hot Creek Hatchery Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Devils Postpile National Monument (1 hour)

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No doubt you have seen the Devils Postpile in pictures, this crazy geological wonder has been attracting visitors for decades. It is off 395 a decent amount but is a great stop and houses a lot of fun hikes.

Rainbow Falls (1 hour)

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Only a stone’s throw from Devils Postpile, Rainbow Falls is a majestic waterfall and an excellent way to get your legs moving on a road trip. The hike itself is a few miles each way to the lookout point that will give you the above view of the waterfall.

Mono Lake (45 minutes)

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The calcite formations on the South side of Mono Lake have been attracting photographers for a long time. You will see why when you get there as the formations are unlike anything you have ever seen in a lake before. They are accessed via a short walk from the parking lot and are a great place for sunset or sunrise.

Whoa Nellie Deli (30 minutes)

Whoa Nellie Deli-1

Located inside a Mobil Gas Station with a view of Mono Lake, this food establishment is extremely popular. It’s not hard to see why when you try it though as the food is better than anything you can get within 30 miles of this spot. It is a little on the pricey end but the fish tacos are fantastic, and you can’t beat the view.

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  • Address: 22 Vista Point Road, Lee Vining, CA 93541

Tioga Pass (4 hours)

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If you have time for another drive while on your road trip, make sure to turn on Tioga Pass. This back country road goes over a 10,000-foot pass and allows you to see Half Dome from the backside without hiking. It also goes past Tuolumne Meadows, which is a favorite California spot for backpacking.

Vista Point (10 minutes)

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After heading up the mountain on the North side of Mono Lake, there is a pull off for a Vista Point. I highly suggest you take it as it provides a beautiful view of the entire valley below. It is one of my favorite views on the drive.

Bodie (1 – 2 hours)

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The ghost town of Bodie is a favorite attraction for many California visitors, but I have not made it there myself yet. It is a well-maintained piece of history that showcases what life was like in early days of California.

Bridgeport Courthouse (5 minutes)

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Much like the Independence Courthouse, the Bridgeport one is the main courthouse for Mono County. The beautiful Victorian architecture harkens to the creation of the town, and it was built-in 1881. It is a pretty historic building, and it is worth the stop.

  • Address: 242 Main St Bridgeport, CA 93517

Topaz Lodge Casino (45 minutes)

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When you make the first entrance to Nevada from CA, there is a casino right there waiting for you. If you like gambling, I imagine this being a great stop, but I have not been inside myself.

Lassen National Park (1 day)

Lassen Peak

Lastly, when the 395 comes back into California from Nevada, you are pretty close to Lassen National Park, which I highly recommend. It will take you off Highway 395 a little ways, but it is a great place to camp and spend a day as there is so much to do there.

What would you add to this guide? Let me know in the comments.

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  • szahn

    You have way too much free time and money my friend. Please tell me your secret.

  • Rob

    Great Site! My question is slightly off topic. I want to travel this road as it starts in Hesperia where I live. There are some of the greatest places off Hwy395. I have a 2001 jeep. I hope it makes it. What are other vehicles other people have used and did you have any issues?

    • I did most of these stops in a Toyota Matrix, so you should be able to access pretty much everything. Fossil Falls is probably the worst of the bunch for dirt roads.

      • rdm24

        This kind of info is very helpful!

  • SocalHiker

    Hi. I think you should explore Hot Creek and the Ancient Bristlecone Forest. Still everything in this list is magnificent!

    • Thanks for the recommendations, the bristle cone forrest is on my list for sure!

  • wendi

    Hi, Josh – thanks for a very informative site. I have traveled up and down CA many times but have never been on Hwy 395. We will be moseying back to AZ from the Trinidad/Arcata area in May and would like to give 395 a try. The question: we will be in
    a 37′ motor home towing a vehicle – are we gonna be able to do this road?? Thanks in advance. Hey – AZ is just a hop, skip and jump away and we have LOTS to offer in the way of scenery, hiking, food…. 😛

    • I have never driven an RV so I am not able to speak to that well, but the 395 is mostly a two – four lane highway all the way through, so I would think it would be ok. That being said I am not sure what hazards are normally posed to driving an RV so there could be something I haven’t thought about. I do need to spend more time in AZ I agree!

  • jovana

    I have heard u can dig for thunder eggs some where off the 395.any info on this

    • Unfortunately I don’t have any information on this, sorry about that!

  • Lonnie Horn

    I just visited your site for the first time and love it! As an avid skier I have driven the stretch between Orange County and Mammoth hundreds of times and have actually stopped at most of the sites. Three years ago I discovered the Trona Pinnacles east of Ridgecrest. A must visit that has been the location of many photo shoots. Check it out! And while in Ridgecrest visit the Matarango Museum, a gem.

    • Thanks for the comment! I have been to the pinnacles they are for sure a crazy spot! I haven’t checked out that museum though so I will have to do that. Thanks for the comment!

  • Robin christensen

    Would the town of “lovelock” be on that road trip, where all the locks are all on a chain in front of the court house. That’s a neat place to see. When a couple gets married they put a lock on the chain in front of the court house.

    • Hmm, not that I am aware of, let me know if you have more information on it though.

  • Bethany Worek

    How windy is 395?? My son gets car sick and we’re taking a road trip from San Diego to Fallon, Nv. I’m trying to figure out if we should pick an alternate route. Thanks!

    • Most of the road is not very windy at all. Above Bodie it does get more windy, but it is not like driving PCH or anything most of the way, at least in my opinion.

  • Lacey Willner

    Bristolcone pines is a great side trip. Its quite a long treck off 395 but well worth it. Beautiful views and the pines are amazing

    • Thanks for the comment, I do want to get up there one of these days but unfortunately I have not been able to yet. Awesome photo as well, thank you for sharing it!

  • sue

    What is the minimum time one should plan on exploring and driving from Lone Pine to Reno?

    • I think two days would give you a good amount of time, that way you do not need to rush at bigger stops like Bodie, Mono Lake or Devil’s Postpile if you choose to drive in there as well.

  • Alex P

    Thank you for this post! I’m looking to make a round trip up the 395 from LA, going maybe as far as Lake Tahoe. How many days should I plan for this to take?

    • I would recommend 2 days, leaving early on the first day and making it all the way to Bishop or Mammoth, then taking the second day to see Mammoth, Mono Lake and Bodie before heading up to the Tahoe area.

  • Great post! We’re currently on 395…started in Oregon and currently in Bishop (headed to Alabama Hills today). We’re in a 32 foot Class A Motorhome towing a Jeep Rubicon and I can say it’s definitely an RV friendly drive (for those asking). I’d add Travertine Hot Springs in Bridgeport and Genoa Bar (Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlour) in Genoa (just south of Carson City)…while I know it’s in Nevada it’s sooo close to CA and a fun, historic side trip. Looking forward to checking out some of your suggestions as we head south.

    • Thanks for the great suggestions, I will have to try these next time I take the drive. Have fun on the rest of your drive!

  • Steven Mai

    I went on the 395 heading back to LA from Mammoth Lakes and we stopped by at this Keough’s Hot Springs. There is a Hot Springs pool where you have to pay to enjoy but my friends and I are more interested in the natural wilderness Hot Springs Creek/ponds just off to the right side of the exit. It’s only a couple minutes off from 395, 8 miles south of Bishop. Awesome experience.

    Thanks for your guide. I’ll make a week long road trip in the spring on this US 395 and I’ll cost your suggested sights.

    Steven Mai

    • Thanks for the suggestion and for posting this awesome photo!

  • Shah Daniel

    Leaving for Mammoth from LA soon, anyone know if the statues are still on display on Hwy 395?

    • I haven’t driven past in a few months but they were there when I went past last, which was around July – August

  • Amanda S. Pech

    Was just wondering if the time duration next to the place name is the time from the highway to that place or is that a recommended time to see that locations

    • Amanda,

      I based the time recommendations on how long it would take to see it once you are there. Not how long it will take to drive to it from the highway.

      • Amanda S. Pech

        thank u
        are these locations far from the highway do u know

  • Molly McCabe

    How long do you think this trip would take starting from LA and going to San Fransisco?

    • During the winter, this would be at least 12 hours of straight driving as you would not be able to go through Tioga Pass so there is not a great way to get over to San Francisco. If you wanted to do this I would recommend doing it when Tioga Pass is open then you can go up Highway 395, head through Tioga Pass, see Yosemite then head over to San Francisco.

  • George

    You missed Jacks Waffles in Bishop. Love eating at this place and seeing the mounted fish from the early days.

    • Thanks for the comment, I will be sure to add that to my list to visit!

  • KN

    I love the ‘no actual address’ one – cause I used to live right there. ‘Where do you live?’ Dunno, nobody knows.

  • We drove from Victorville to Carson City last week using your guide. Spent three days one the road. Thanks for the great information. I’m eating an Erick Schat’s almond cookie right now! We had a nice lunch and phosphate in Randsburg and stayed in Lone Pine. You may want to consider adding Joe’s Airflight Cafe near Olancha. This was the setting of one of my favorite “Twilight Zone” episodes “One Hundred Yards Over The Rim”. https://www.facebook.com/229069726697/photos/a.321524476697.150284.229069726697/10153867578606698/?type=3&theater Sadly, I did not know about this until after we got home.

    • Thanks for the comment and I am glad the post helped you have a fun trip. What was your favorite spot? I will be sure to check out the Airflight Cafe next time I make the drive as it looks awesome, thanks for letting me know!

      • The variety of sights is so great that it is hard to choose one favorite over another. We set out to see Bodie and it did not disappoint. There were few other people there and there were snow flurries. It was magical. I also wanted to see where “Bad Day at Black Rock” was filmed in Lone Pine but there is nothing remaining so we did Alabama Hills and hiked to Moebius Arch. The scenery was spectacular.

        • Those are both fantastic spots, thanks for sharing the photos! I am planning on spending more time int he Alabama Hills soon as there is just so much beauty to see there!

  • Anthony Warthold

    Hey Josh, thanks for the great guide to US395. We will be driving from Lake Tahoe down to LA, stopping overnight at Mammoth in August. We are looking forward to visiting some of your suggestions. I’ll do a post trip review with some photos. Cheers !

  • Dennis Smith

    I am with you on the 395. And bodie is worth the time.

  • Shane Nejad

    Great site Josh. I’ve been coming here for years and try to do the Bishop Pass day hike yearly, which is for me an almost spiritual experience. I am going back to LA tomorrow and was able to find a few things that I think my kids would enjoy and I had not known about. If I may suggest a few more things that I do with my limited knowledge. Today, we did Tom’s place hiking trail called “Little Lakes Valley” that is worth a visit and I am sure there is more out there to discover too, especially for the fishermen. Whitney Portal is great too if you want to hike up to the Lone Pine Lake, which is stunning. I have to say though, I worry about the 395 becoming as pact as Yosemite as I can still show up to many places last minute and find a camping ground, not to mention take my dog without the limitations so many popular places have in place now. Thanks for your post, keep it up.

    • Thanks for the great comment and suggestions, a few new ones to add to my list!

  • Robert Willey

    Hi Josh,
    Your blog is great, especially as I will be travelling up the 395 when I visit the US in September. Where would you recommend staying over? We need to stay one night somewhere between Furnace Creek in Death Valley and Curry Village in Yosemite.
    Many thanks
    Rob

    • I would probably stay in Mammoth area. There are a lot of great things to see around there and it will make your drive into Yosemite the next day around 2.5 hours. Be sure to stop by Mono Lake on the way to Yosemite as well!

  • Mike Lee

    Another great post, Josh. Lots of great spots to check out, some I knew of, some I didn’t and now I have to cook something because all the great dining venues you listed have me famished!

    • Haha, Highway 395 has some amazing BBQ spots that is for sure! Glad there were some new places for you on this list and let me know what your favorite spot is if you make the trip!

  • Charlene

    This is great! Thank you so much.

    • No problem, thanks for the comment!

  • Kathryn Kreutzer

    another cool thing we’ve seen just south of bishop, on 395, there is a sign that says “elk crossing” but we would never see any until one day just before sundown. The adjacent alfalfa fields had many of these magnificent animals grazing peacefully. some were males with huge antlers. they are set back aways off the road. use a telephoto lens or binoculars to get a good close up view. we were so excited to see them. now when we know that we will be passing through the area we try to time it just so we can once again experience the thrill of seeing these elusive animals.

    • Wow that is awesome, thanks for sharing! I have never seen any elk out there!

  • Marla

    I live in this area–Inyokern, where the brewing company is!! This is a fantastic article! I want to someday drive the whole 395 and stop everywhere. I would suggest adding Ridgecrest to your list!! 🙂 We have some great restaurants, like the John’s Pizza Place, we have the Petroglyph Festival, and if you have some time, you can see our museum and drive out to Trona for the petroglyphs as well. We are also home to the largest land base in the navy. You can get a day pass for the base and visit the Naval Museum, which is home to some significant history.

    • Thanks for the tips. I would love to get a day pass and go to the museum, that sounds like a great idea!

  • Thanks for the tip, that looks awesome!

  • Slackswitch

    Just wanted to say this was a cool list to find. Thanks for making this

    • No problem, thanks for the comment and have fun exploring!

  • stephen

    I’ve traveled Hwy 395 my whole life and find it to be the most beautiful and surprising drive in the US. Growing up my folks bought a guide book and pointed out all the interesting spots. This somehow made the drive from LA to Mammoth an adventure every time. Now older, I am taking the old road from Tahoe to Mammoth and am enjoying seeing the different vistas and old towns. Thank you for taking the time to do this most amazing road justice.

  • tearh6000

    Has anyone done this trip in mid-April? I’m wondering if there would be snow? We’d be travelling north from Bakersfield to Canada in our Motorhome.

    • Tioga Pass will probably still be closed but I would imagine the rest of the road would be open. It does depend on if we get any more of that crazy snow we have been getting over the last few months though.

  • AMI

    Thanks for the information! Now I’m looking forward to our road trip even more! 🙂