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June Lake Loop

June Lake Loop

Take a detour near Mammoth Lakes to see sparkling glacial lakes and fall leaves

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An outstanding drive through ultimate alpine scenery, June Lake Loop (map) has been a showcase for the natural beauty of the Eastern Sierras for generations of road-trippers. 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. But whatever season you make it to June Lake, there is plenty to do in addition to taking in the views.

Snow Sports at June Lake

In the winter, snow-sport enthusiasts flock to June Mountain, one of the state’s best winter resorts for family skiing and boarding. With ample terrain that is uncrowded and welcoming to all levels of ability, June Mountain ups the family-friendly quotient even higher by letting kids under 12 ski and ride the lifts for free, all day, every day. 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 and ice climbing; those on search of an adrenaline surge can also opt for a snowmobile experience at DJ’s Snowmobile Adventures or backcountry skiing with Sierra Mountain Guides.

Fun in the water at June Lake

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 stand-up paddleboards to powerboats and shaded pontoon boats, can be rented from marinas on both June Lake and Gull Lake. If you’d just as well stay on land and catch some rays, there’s a sandy beach at June Lake Marina. Jet-skiers will need to bring your own; though they are allowed, there are no jet-ski rentals.

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.

Camping at June Lake

There are camping accommodations to suit every stripe of nature lover along the June Lake Loop, with some campgrounds sitting right on the lakefront. There are half a dozen U.S. Forest Service–operated campgrounds in the surrounding Inyo National Forest. Prime among them are Gull Lake Campground with sites at the water’s edge, June Lake Campground, which is close to both the area’s marinas, and Oh! Ridge Campground, which is near the June Lake swimming beach and the Pine Cliff Resort. Silver Lake Resort has rustic cabins and an RV park; other options are Golden Pine and June Lake House RV parks. If you’d like to have an RV experience but are RV-less, Adventure in Camping will deliver a trailer to a campsite of your choosing.

Things to Do Near June Lake

While in the area, make the quick hop over to Mammoth Lakes—whether it’s summer or winter or anything in between—to explore the varied offerings that famous resort location has. There’s skiing at Mammoth Mountain, of course, but also top-notch golfing and plenty of après-ski spots where you can unwind over a cocktail or craft beer. State and national parks nearby include Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, Devils Postpile National Monument, and Bodie Historic State Park.   

 

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