Here’s an outstanding drive through ultimate alpine scenery. From Mammoth Lakes, head north on U.S. 395 to State 158, then head west towards the hamlet of June Lake. For roughly 15 miles, the road winds past a series of sparkling glacial lakes, all encircled by snaggletooth peaks that scrape the skies. Pull over and just breathe it in for a while: scenes don’t get much lovelier than this, especially in fall when aspen leaves paint the lower hillsides and shorelines gold.
Whatever season you make it to June Lake, though, there is plenty to do in addition to taking in the views. In the winter, the area is home to June Mountain, one of the state’s best for family skiing and boarding, with terrain that is welcoming to all levels of ability—there’s even a ski and snowboard school that offers classes to anyone looking to up their skill level. The backcountry beckons those who are more drawn to off-the-beaten path adventures like snowboard mountaineering, snowmobiling, and ice climbing.
During warmer months, in addition to world-class trout fishing, June Lake and the loop’s other three lakes—Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake—offer swimming, boating, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, waterskiing, and jet-skiing. Watercraft, from kayaks to powerboats, can be rented.
Back on land, the Rush Creek Trailhead takes hikers through the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite National Park, and crosses paths with the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Campers can bed down at one of the many first-come, first-serve U.S. Forest Service campgrounds in the area. If all that embracing of the great outdoors makes you a little sore, no worries—get a massage at the inviting Double Eagle Resort & Spa.