Now is the time to head to the Eastern Sierra to catch the best waterfall viewing of the season.
Tioga Pass, which provides access to the eastern gateway of Yosemite National Park through the Sierra Nevada, opened on May 2 — the earliest opening since 1988. The scenic eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, Tioga Pass Road links Mono County with the park’s west side.
Travelers can take advantage of the amenities and convenience of staying in Mono County and traveling into Yosemite for day trips (the National Park’s on-site accommodations and campgrounds tend to fill up fast).
Lee Vining, just 14 miles from Yosemite’s east entrance, and June Lake offer the closest lodging options to the park, with Bridgeport and Mammoth Lakes each about a 45-minute drive from the park entrance.
Lee Vining is home to motels — Lake View Lodge, Murphey’s Motel, Yosemite Gateway Lodge, and Tioga Lodge — which are located near Mono Lake. Dining options include the Whoa Nellie Deli at the Mobil Mart gas station, Nicely’s roadside diner, Mono Cone for burgers and shakes, and homemade to-go items from Mono Market. Ohanas395 – an orange food truck — parks at various locations around Mono County. The villages of June Lake and Bridgeport also offer accommodations, and Mammoth Lakes is the largest resort town in the region.
Bodie State Historic Park, near Bridgeport is the largest unrestored ghost town in the West. Other Eastside attractions are Mono Lake and Devils Postpile, plus miles of hiking trails in the Inyo and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests, lakes and the Walker and Owens rivers for trout fishing.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area offers gondola rides all summer, as well as extensive mountain bike trails.
For those wishing to lighten their load and frustration by not having to drive through Yosemite, the Yosemite Area Regional Transit System will pick up travelers within 40 miles of the eastern gate of the park.
Scheduled stops include Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, Mono Lake and Lee Vining with drop-offs at Tuolumne Meadows (three times a day) and Yosemite Valley (once a day). Service is round-trip and kids ride for free.
For early risers, there’s also the Hiker’s Bus, providing early drop-offs at Tuolumne Meadows every day in July and August. The shuttle leaves Mammoth Lakes at 6 a.m. and arrives in Tuolumne Meadows at 8 a.m.
Daily service runs from July 1 through Aug. 31, three times a day with two shuttles heading to Tuolumne Meadows and one shuttle continuing on all the way to Yosemite Valley. Weekend service to Yosemite Valley will also be offered in June and September. A complete schedule can be found online at www.YARTS.com or by calling 877-989-2787.