Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, and Mono Lake

January 1, 2018

It was dark when we arrived at the town of Mammoth Lakes, after our very long drive through the desert from Las Vegas, and so we had no idea what the place looked like.

We stayed at the Shilo Inn Suites, and we were up bright and early for breakfast in the hotel the next morning. The kids soon got the hang of the American breakfast by making fresh waffles and pancakes.

Breakfast at the hotel, American style, with fresh waffles and pancakes.

The view was breathtaking

At this point, we still hadn’t seen outside.

I knew there was a gas station near the hotel, so as the kids were finishing off breakfast, I popped outside to have a look….and my jaw dropped!

The view was breathtaking.

The view when I stepped outside the hotel took my breath away.

Since we had arrived in the dark, we had no idea what was right outside the hotel: mountains, trees, and a glorious blue sky. The air was crisp and fresh, yet warm at the same time.

This was my kind of place!

Our Route from Mammoth Lakes

After leaving the Shilo Inn, we were to explore some of the lakes in the area, then head up and over the Sierra mountains, before ending up later that night in Yosemite Valley, after exploring some of the Giant Redwoods. Another busy day!

But first, the lakes…

Our route from Mammoth Lakes

From leaving Mammoth Lakes, we took the 395 north but turned off at June Lake Junction. This road takes you on a more scenic route around what is known as the June Lake Loop.

June Lake Loop

After the desert, the previous day, the greenery in the mountains was magnificent as the roads were lined with trees rather than sand and tumbleweed.

The roads were now very different to the desert. This is the 395.

I was keen not to miss too much of this landscape, and fortunately, just after turning off onto the June Lake Loop, there was an area we could pull over and take in the view.

The hire car parked up at the start of the June Lake loop.

The kids also got a chance to do a bit of Geocaching. Very different to many of the caches we find at home.

Time for a bit of geocaching.

There was just enough time to appreciate the view before we had to move on.

Not a bad place to stretch the legs

June Lake

June Lake is the first large lake you see, nestled between the mountains and hills. There’s a small town there and plenty of watersports if you have the time to stay.

The small town at June Lake.

As the road meanders around, there are other lakes you can stop at and visit. Silver Lake was very picturesque.

Taking photos at Silver Lake

One thing that was abundant in this area were campgrounds. It’s certainly somewhere we’d love to re-visit and spend more time.

Mono Lake

As you come out of the June Lake Loop and rejoin the 395, you soon reach Mono Lake, which is by far the biggest lake in the area.

There’s a good Visitor Centre here, which is where you can purchase your ticket for going over the Tioga Pass.

Mono Lake with a view of Paoha Island.

Despite being such a large lake, there’s a distinct lack of watersports on it. That’s due to the unique chemistry of this lake, which creates these delicate and rare structures, called ‘Tuffa Towers‘.

‘Tufa Towers’ formations at Mono Lake

At this part of the journey, we weren’t even halfway through the day, yet we were completely taken by the beauty of the Sierras. Little did we know just how much more incredible they would become as the day went on…


USA West Coast Fly-Drive Series

Continue reading; click on the next article in the series.
  • Why you should do a family road trip

    A family road trip is a great way for your kids to see a bit more of the world. Though it's not always easy... Read more >

  • Booking a Fly-Drive Holiday

    Tips on booking a Fly-Drive family holiday. Read more >

  • Our Route

    The route and itinary for our family road trip in the USA. Read more >

  • Airport Hacks

    Airport hotels, airport parking, and flight delays. Read more >

  • Vegas, Desert, and Mountains

    Our first few days saw us acclimatise in Las Vegas, before heading out through the desert and Death Valley, before eventually reaching the Sierra Nevada mountains. Read more >

  • Mammoth Lakes

    We step out of our hotel and are taken by the magnificent beauty of the Sierra Mountains. Read more >

  • Tioga Pass

    The views over the Sierras could have been taken straight out of a copy of National Geographic Read more >

  • The Giant Redwoods

    These trees are immense. You feel as if you have shrunk when walking among them! Read more >

  • Yosemite Valley

    Yosemite is beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. Read more >

  • Welcome to San Francisco

    Arriving in San Francisco was.... interesting Read more >

  • Alcatraz

    A visit to 'The Rock' is a must when visiting San Francisco Read more >

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

1 Comment
  1. Looks a fabulous trip!

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