California’s High Sierra is a place of snow-capped mountains, stunningly clear lakes and some of the best views known to man. Get inspired among the trees and wildlife.
Trip Time: 7 days
Begin your inspirational journey with a visit to Lake Tahoe , famous for its clear, deep blue water. The lake is the 8th deepest in the world. Driving around the lake, you can enjoy its abundant and diverse natural beauty. South Lake Tahoe is home to fabulous shopping, fantastic dining and fun nightlife.
Head to Squaw Valley USA , the stage for the 1960 Winter Olympics. If you visit here in winter, you should definitely try skiing. Even if you visit here off-season, you can still enjoy various activities. Go up to High Camp, which sits at the top of the mountain, by a cable car, and enjoy a magnificent view of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevadas.
In the afternoon, visit Emerald Bay State Park . Emerald Bay, an inlet on Lake Tahoe’s shore, surrounds Fannette, Tahoe’s only island. You can enjoy the view of a unique Scandinavian style estate, Vikingsholm.
Make your next stop Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area . It’s a great idea to visit the Visitor Center before you hit the road to Mono Lake. At this unique center, you can learn the reason why the lake has a high salinity, and that tufa, which once was in the water, is exposed because of diverting water. Only 20 minutes away is Bodie State Historic Park , one of the biggest ghost towns in the country. In the 1880s, 10,000 people lived here and mined gold. More than 200 historic buildings are preserved.
Drive Tioga Pass and visit Yosemite National Park . Tioga Pass, located in the north of Yosemite National Park, crosses the Sierra Nevada mountains. Driving this scenic route, you can enjoy views of a huge dome made of gray limestone, wetlands where rare animals and plants live, and beautiful lakes that are filled with melted snow. Since Tioga Pass is in high elevation, it is closed mid-October through late June because of snow. At Yosemite National Park, ride a shuttle and enjoy the views of famous Half Dome, El Capitan and Glacier Point.
Cap off the day with dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel . This historic hotel opened in 1927. The Hotel is often packed, but even if you can’t get a room, you can still enjoy dinner! For a gourmet dinner in a romantic setting, this is the best bet.
Continue exploring Yosemite National Park. Visit the various viewpoints with which famous photographer Ansel Adams fell in love. You can enjoy various activities, such as hiking, horseback riding and cycling, too. If you are up for a challenge, why not try rock climbing?
Head east to visit Mammoth Lakes . The seven lakes are just east of the Sierra crest. The beautiful view of the lakes will stay in your heart for a long time. In the afternoon, enjoy Devils Postpile National Monument . In this National Monument, you can take a look at the 60-foot-high rocky cliff and beautiful waterfalls. The Monument is open June through September.
Spend the day skiing at Mammoth Mountains . This world-class ski resort attracts snowboarders from all over the world. The resort has the “Super Duper Pipe,” known as the best of its kind in the world. It also is famous for its long season, which begins in November and often lingers until July 4. During the summer, the ski area becomes a mountain bike park. You can also enjoy fishing, cycling and hiking. The resort has sophisticated restaurants and stores as well.
Wrap up your epic journey through California with a visit to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks . These two national parks are located near Yosemite – Sequoia in the south, and Kings Canyon in the north. Sequoia is famous for the world’s biggest tree, the “General Sherman Tree.” Kings Canyon also has a gigantic tree called the “General Grant Tree,” which is also known as “America’s Christmas Tree.”