As you may know, I am a massive fan of driving Highway 395. Every time I make the trip, I find something new to explore, and this time was no different. While driving through the town of Independence, I saw a sign for the Mt Whitney Historic Fish Hatchery, so I decided to get off the highway and check it out. I can honestly say it is a fantastic stop and one I recommend, especially when it is open. Here is all the information.
- Open Thurs – Mon but the grounds are open anytime
- Location: Oak Creek Rd, Independence, CA 93526
- This information is from my visit in 2016
- Read about all of my favorite Highway 395 stops here
The Mt Whitney Fish Hatchery is located right off Highway 395 on Oak Creek Rd (just North of Independence). The one-mile road will take you to the hatchery.
The building was built in 1917 with the help of the local community. The gardens were landscaped by a gardener brought in from Golden Gate Park. The first trout was hatched in 1917, and the eggs were transported by mule team to the surrounding mountain streams. It continues to this day with golden trout being brought in every year, but they no longer use mule teams to transport the fish.
The Hatchery Grounds
When you arrive in the large dirt parking lot, you will immediately be greeted by the beautiful facade of this historic building.
The building looks like something you would see in a small Eastern European town. The fish hatchery is truly beautiful with its stone walls and accentuated third story.
The hatchery sits behind a large lake with lots of shade and picnic tables, making it an excellent stop for exploring on a family road trip, even if the interior isn’t open. You can walk all around the pond and see the fish swimming in it or buy a pack of fish food from the hatchery so you can feed them yourself.
If you go when the hatchery is open, then you are in for a treat. The hatchery building entrance has a small gift shop and a fireplace with a few chairs.
The main draw for the area is the actual hatchery though, where they have lots of fish in different troughs. I was impressed as there was a lot more than I anticipated, and there was a lot of information about the fish and what they were doing here.
This area also has plaques and information about other places you can see in the county as well, such as the Eastern Sierra Museum.
Along the back wall, there is an exhibit about how they restored the hatchery building to its original glory.
There is one more room in the hatchery which houses a bunch of information about the animals in the area as well as a movie about the hatchery itself.
All in all, this is an excellent stop for the whole family. When it isn’t open, you can walk the ground and have a picnic at the tables, and when it is open, you can learn all about the fish hatchery process. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.