Yosemite Valley is justifiably one of the “must see” places in California (or, indeed, North America) if you love mountains. But “The Valley” represents only a tiny fraction of Yosemite National Park, and Yosemite itself represents only a tiny fraction of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And while most of the “high country” of the park can only be reached on foot, one can drive up out of the valley, and across the mountains over the highest Sierra pass, to arrive close to the Nevada border, on US Highway 395, which goes from the Mojave Desert in Southern California, all the way to the Canadian border. While this highway provides fantastic scenery for its entire length, this “Off the Beaten Track” will concentrate on the area near the junction with the road from Yosemite, the Tioga Pass Road.
The Nevada side of the mountains is dry, and one of the scenic wonders of the area is Mono Lake. Although several streams run into the lake, none run out, but evaporation keeps the lake from rising. The desert environment of the Mono basin gives the lake a stark beauty, very different from the meadows, trees, river, and waterfalls of Yosemite Valley. A few miles from Mono Lake is the June Lake Loop road, the leads past several semi-desert mountain lakes to the popular tourist town of June Lake. Anyone wishing a bit of variety on an extended trip to Yosemite will find the Tioga Pass to Mono Lake (and June Lake) journey well worth while. For those wanting a longer road trip, 395 southbound will take you through the lovely town of Bishop (great bakeries!), and eventually get you to Los Angeles. Going north, you can reach Lake Tahoe or Reno, Nevada in half a day, or continue on to Susanville, looping West and South to reach Lassen Volcanic National Park. If you visit us at EC San Francisco
, you can see a lot more than just “The City.”