There Are Plenty of Things To Do in the Eastern Sierra, Despite the Late June/July Opening of the Tioga Pass Road


Debbie Sipe

(530) 885-1624

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“The days are warm. The rivers are rushing. The wildflowers are blooming, the ski resorts are still open and the road to the historic ghost town of Bodie is now open. It doesn’t get any better than that.”— Debbie Sipe, 


JUNE LAKE, Calif., May 24, 2017 — It could be the end of June or beginning of July before road crews clear the snows that have buried State Route 120 through Tioga Pass and the higher elevations of Yosemite National Park.


But don’t let that stop you from making a trip to the Eastern Sierra.


“It is glorious there right now,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts, the travel planning website.


“The days are warm. The rivers are rushing. The wildflowers are blooming and the ski resorts are still open and the road to the historic ghost town of Bodie is now open. It doesn’t get any better than that.”


Indeed, Eastern Sierra campground operators say the trout fishing is amazing, the road to historic ghost town of Bodie is open, and Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is still open, while kids 12 and under can ski for free at June Mountain Resort.

The towns of Mammoth Lakes and June Lake offer different experiences for travelers. While both cater to ski enthusiasts and offer access to beautiful Eastern Sierra lakes, Mammoth Lakes has a wide variety of restaurants and retail stores, while June Lake is more of a quiet getaway for nature seekers.


In fact, many years ago, Hollywood celebrities like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Clark Gable used to go to June Lake to get away from it all and enjoy the serenity of the Eastern Sierra. June Lake itself is like a step back in time, said Victoria Streeton, whose family has owned and operated June Lake RV Park for nearly 50 years.


“We don’t even have a signal here,” she said. “We have stop signs.”


But couples and families go to June Lake to get away from the stresses of city life and to enjoy hiking, kayaking, fishing and horseback riding, she said.


The famed June Lake Loop off of Highway 395 is one of the most scenic drives in the Eastern Sierra. The 16-mile aspen and pine lined road, located about 12 miles south of Lee Vining, passes four lakes, including Grant Lake, Silver Lake, Gull Lake and June Lake.


“June Mountain is wonderful because it’s family oriented,” she said, adding, “There are places where you sit down and watch your kids ski right in front of you.”


Eastern Sierra campground operators also note that their parks can be used as base camps for hiking trips as well as fishing and kayaking and canoeing. 


The road to Bodie State Historical Park was also cleared earlier this month, so travelers making the trip can take a step back in time and see one of the West’s best preserved authentic ghost towns.


Several privately owned Eastern Sierra campgrounds also offer rental accommodations ranging from cabins and motel style rooms with kitchens to park model RVs to actual houses. 


Campgrounds with accommodations include June Lake RV Park ( Mammoth Mountain RV Park in Mammoth Lakes (; Coleville / Walker KOA in Coleville ( and Annett’s Mono Village (, which is near Upper Twin Lake outside of Bridgeport.


All of these campgrounds can be used as base camps for recreational and sightseeing trips in the Eastern Sierra.


“We often have families who come stay with us,” said Mary Fesko, who owns and operates the Coleville / Walker KOA.


Many are drawn to the beautiful High Sierra lakes, including Virginia Lakes and Twin Lakes and Topaz Lake, which is on the California-Nevada border, she said.

Other comes for the hiking, fishing, skiing and sightseeing opportunities nearby, while still others head north to the historic silver mining town of Virginia City, Nev. as well as Lake Tahoe.


“Most people stay with us at least two or three nights,” Fesko said. 


“They also come for our breakfasts,” she said, adding that she’s had the same cook for over 20 years.


“People come from all over to have breakfast with us,” Fesko said. “People love our pancakes. They’re as big as your plate, if not bigger. And we have huge breakfast burritos. It’s just good homemade cooking.

For more information on travel destinations in the Eastern Sierra and across California, please visit