Explore our beautiful region
The Mono Basin is home to over 300 species, and millions of birds. Most are migratory, but over 100 species nest here. Bird watchers come from all over the world to capture glimpses of birds from various habitats in a small area.
Desert, mountains, and water all collide in the Mono Basin, and each habitat supports its own collection of bird species. Many birds find habitat at Mono Lake, a salty inland sea home to brine shrimp, alkali flies, and the millions of birds that depend on them.
Flowing down from the Sierra Nevada escarpment, freshwater streams create a different habitat where open grasslands, aspens, willows, and cottonwoods grow. Other locations in the basin offer such habitats as Pinon Pine woodlands, Jeffrey Pine forests, sagebrush fields and freshwater lakes.
Bodie Ghost Town
Gold was discovered in Bodie in 1859, and by the 1870’s it boasted three breweries and 65 saloons and dance halls. There was more drinking, gambling, and shooting than any other mining town. Killings occurred regularly, sometimes becoming almost daily events. Robberies, stage holdups, and street fights were a regular occurrence. Bodie reached a population of about 10,000 by 1879, and today is left very much intact, the way that it was when the gold mining ceased. The people left, leaving the store shelves stocked and writing on the school’s blackboard.
The park is 32 miles from the Lake View Lodge, 22 miles north on 395, then take State Route 270. Go east 10 miles to the end of the pavement and continue 3 miles on an unsurfaced road to Bodie. The last 3 miles can at times be rough. Reduced speeds are necessary. An entrance fee is charged, and a small museum sells some souvenirs. Bring cold drinking water – there are no services within 14 miles of the park.
Ansel Adams’ most famous photographs were taken in this area. It is rapidly becoming a world-class destination for photographers. Whether your desire is to photograph the fall colors on Conway Summit, the waterfalls of Yosemite or the winter fog on Mono Lake, photographers come from all over the world to capture the interplay of light, desert, mountains and water of the area.
Lee Vining Creek — Lee Vining Creek is high & clear, occasionally stocked with rainbow trout up to 4 lbs. Turn on Hwy 120 west, follow it a couple of miles almost to the gate where they close the road for the winter. Off to your right, you will be able to see water tanks. There is a road on the right, turn and follow it a short distance to a small reservoir. There you will find great fishing, excellent for beginners or small children.
Lundy Reservoir — Turn on Hwy 167 west, drive past Lundy Lake Campground to either the dam on the east side of the lake or the boat launch on the west side of the lake. Whether from a boat, float tub or from shore, this is a great lake for browns and rainbows. Try some of the beaver ponds above and below the reservoir for great fishing.
Parker Lake — Turn off Hwy 395 onto the June Lake Loop (Hwy 158) at the north junction. After a mile and a half, turn right onto a dirt road. There will be a sign for Parker Lake. Follow the signs to the Parker Lake Trailhead. This 4-mile round trip, moderate trail takes you to a beautiful mountain lake with a great view and excellent fishing. Hike up a steep trail with spectacular views of Mono Lake, follow the trail up to the part where the trail flattens out next to beautiful Parker Creek, as it meanders through green meadows. Try you luck here or continue through the forest straight ahead to Parker Lake. Record-size browns have been pulled out of this lake, as well as big brookies. Try a black ant fly or a worm with a weight and a bubble.
Ellery Lake and Tioga Lake — On the Tioga Pass. This lake has been stocked with rainbow trout up to 5 pounds. A beautiful, scenic lake, with easy access, a great place for families, or a quick fishing stop when heading into the park. There are over 50 fishable lakes in the Tioga Pass Region.
Saddlebag Lake — On the Tioga Pass, two miles of dirt road off 120 near the Tioga Pass Resort. This lake and the 20 Lakes Basin at the far end of Saddlebag offer a variety of trout for avid anglers. Here you can catch Brook, Brown, Golden and Rainbow trout. At 10,000+, this is one of the highest elevations in the U.S. that you can actually drive to for camping, hiking and fishing. It is very beautiful and a wonderful place for families.
Fishing season generally runs from the last Saturday of April to November 15. Fishing licenses can be purchased at Bell’s Sporting Goods.
Hiking & Mountain Biking
Hiking in the Sierra is unparalleled, and this area is no exception. We are located less than 20 miles from Tuolumne in the Yosemite National Park, where there are numerous hikes for all interests. Whether out for a Sunday stroll or looking for a multi-night backpack, check with the Tioga entrance station for information on what is available in the park. The Mono Basin itself has many hikes within a couple of miles of our Lodge, with incredible views of Mono Lake and the Sierra.
Lee Vining Creek Trail — This easy hike is 1.6 miles each way. This trail will take you along Lee Vining Creek from the edge of town to the Mono Lake Visitor Center. Informational signs and resting areas line the path and educate you on the restoration of the creek. Get on the path about 100 yards south of our Lodge, on the east side of Hwy 395. During spring and summer months, beautiful wildflowers line the trail.
Lundy Canyon — Whether you are looking for a place to spend a couple of hours on a leisurely walk checking out the scenery, or a very difficult 8-mile hike up to Saddlebag Lake on the Tioga Pass, Lundy Canyon trailhead is where you should start. Enjoy aspen groves that are amazing in the fall, wildflowers in spring, cliffs and waterfalls along the way. Turn on Hwy 167 west, drive past Lundy Lake and the store, and take the dirt road past the beaver ponds to where it ends at a trailhead.
Parker Lake — Turn from Hwy 395 onto the June Lake Loop (Hwy 158) at the north junction. After a mile and a half, turn right onto a dirt road; there will be a sign for Parker Lake. Follow the signs to the Parker Lake trailhead. This 4-mile round trip, moderately difficult trail takes you to a beautiful mountain lake with a great view and excellent fishing. Hike up a steep trail with spectacular views of Mono Lake, follow the trail up to the part to where the trail flattens out next to beautiful Parker Creek as it meanders through green meadows and forests, and continue straight ahead to Parker Lake. You won’t want to forget your camera for this hike.
Parker Bench/Silver Lake — Follow the directions above to Parker Lake, but when walking along Parker Creek, watch for the Silver Lake turnoff; it is about 3.5 miles up to Parker Bench. After enjoying the view of Mono Lake, wander back the way you came, making it a 10-mile round trip hike, or shuttle a second car to Silver Lake on the June Lake Scenic Byway for a 7-mile hike.
Lundy to Lakes Canyon/Oneida Mine — Moderately difficult. Turn on Hwy 167 west, north of Lee Vining. Go past the Lundy campgrounds and turn to go to the dam. Follow the trailhead up along the lake, continue to follow past a few small lakes. This hike is 3 miles each way and takes you up a canyon with a great abandoned 1800’s mine. Return the way you came.
Lee Vining Creek Road — This road is a great mountain bike ride. Access the road 4 miles up on HWY 120 (Tioga Pass) on the left, just pass the Inyo National Forest sign.
Mono Lake Trail — Ride your bike from the Old Marina to the South Tufa, along dirt roads. This is a fairly level but long ride; ask at the Visitors Center for details.
The Eastern Sierra is also known for its winters. Throughout the winter, people come from all over the world to visit our local ski resorts. Lee Vining is a great alternative to the hustle and bustle, and high prices of a ski resort town. You will be sure to enjoy a day on the slopes and then relax in our spacious and quiet rooms. Plenty of services are available in the winter months. Views of the lake are incredible against the frequent dustings of snow. Whether you are snowboarding, skiing, telemarking, or cross country skiing, you will find a place to enjoy top notch conditions and the beauty of the Sierras. Winter and group rates are available.
Lee Vining Canyon is a favorite to many experienced ice climbers. Our Lodge is located a short drive from California’s main ice area and generally offers a good range of routes, from short, steep pillars to routes 2 and even 3 pitches in length. The ice here is formed from natural seeps above the cliffs and takes a while to form. Often the ice isn’t in Lee Vining Canyon until after Christmas, but in a good year, climbable ice might form before then. To reach the Canyon from Lee Vining, head south on Hwy 395 for less than a mile and turn right on Hwy 120. Proceed about 3 miles until just before you reach the closed gate. Turn left onto Poole Rd and follow it roughly north for 2 miles until it ends at the power plant. Park here and hike for 20-30 minutes (longer in new snow) until you reach the Main Wall.
June Mountain Ski Area — 15 Miles south on 395, turn at the June Lake Loop (Hwy 158) exit and follow signs to the ski area.
Mammoth Mountain — 27 Miles south on 395, turn at the Mammoth Lakes exit and continue up to the resort.
South Tufa, Old Marina, and the County Park Boardwalk — All wonderful places to cross-country ski when snow conditions permit. South Tufa is kept plowed, allowing year-round access, except immediately after large storms. Tours are available; contact the Visitor Center for details.
During the winter months call CAL-TRANS for the road report, 1-800-427-7623, or visit the Cal Trans website for up-to-date information.