Even if your destination is the same, road trips are like snowflakes. No two are alike. This is especially true when it includes exploring Highway 395. Located just east of the mighty Sierra, it follows these mighty peaks rewarding you with vistas and views you won’t soon forget. The list of attractions reads like the ultimate bucket list vacation – the oldest trees in the world to the tallest peak in the lower 48. It’s no wonder that this is the “Land Of -Est!” But visiting a place of superlatives makes it a challenge to pack. Luckily, we’re here to help guide you on what to pack for your Highway 395 road trip.
Layers In Every Season
Think of Highway 395 as the gateway to the outdoors. Just the road itself drops to 3,700’ at Lone Pine and goes as high as 6,781’ in Lee Vining. But as you head west into the mountains, in just a dozen or so miles there are paved roads that climb above 10,000’. Although it may hit triple digits in Owens Valley, you could be chilly in the higher elevations, especially at dawn or dusk. It’s important to pack a variety of clothes you can add or remove based on where you’re exploring that day.
We can’t stress this point enough. Don’t just wear a pair of sneakers if you plan on hiking. Gravel, sand, and little bits will get into your feet and make the day unenjoyable. If you don’t own a pair of trail or hiking shoes, you’re in luck. Bishop is home to nearly a dozen outdoor gear shops, like Sage to Summit, that will make sure you’re ready for the outdoors. You may even want to buy a pair of hiking specific socks. Many hikers will tell you that regular athletic socks won’t cut it in the dog days of summer.
What makes the Eastern Sierra so beautiful with its large open spaces and mighty peaks also means it’s more challenging to find food or gas along the route. A good idea is to pack snacks and water in case your adventurers do get hungry. Then you’ll have something to eat. With that being said, Bishop itself is home to a world of good food to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters or foodies.
Don’t Just Visit Once – Experience ALL The Seasons
We can’t stress this enough. While most do a Highway 395 road trip in the summer, we recommend visiting at least once in each season. To say that we have a favorite time of year is like picking your favorite child. It’s just not possible. Spring is all about the wildflower bloom which happens BIG. Then you have summer activities after the snow melts. High in the alpine (as late as July in some years), you’re rewarded with opal-colored lakes teeming with trout and a myriad of hiking. Fall is all about the foliage. Some of the best west of the Mississippi. And despite the highest mountain passes being closed (like Tioga) for winter, it also gives you an opportunity to explore the lower elevations in more comfortable temps. The weather is so good that rock climbers spend the entire winter season bouldering here.
We hope this inspires you just as much as it helps you plan that road trip to explore our Big Backyard’s driveway – Highway 395. Happy motoring.