Well, I promised awhile back I would write about June Lake,
CA. Unfortunately, although, it is spectacular there, it is not nearly exciting as the first portion of our trip this summer to the Walker River area, where we went “4 wheeling “, without
a four wheel drive vehicle, and it was almost a total disaster, and certainly more entertaining to read.
On our way to June
Lake we stopped at the Virginia Creek Settlement which serves a great lunch. They have wood cabins, tent cabins, covered wagons, and camp sites for rent. The covered wagons do not have baths; you have to use the community baths.
Plus they have their own trout fish hatchery to stock the river that runs through their property. No wonder it is such a great place: the owner has the same name as my great man, Jimmy Little.
Where the heck is June Lake, you may be thinking right now?? About 3+ miles west of The Three Flags Highway.
Well, I’ll begin at the beginning. Several years ago while on our annual Walker River Trip, Jim and I decided to go exploring, but on normal roads, not dirt roads into the “wilds”.
To get to June Lake you have to take one of three passes over the Sierra, Monitor, Sonora, or Tioga ( over the top of Yosemite National Park.), All of these passes end at Hwy 395 that runs North to South from Reno to LA. Anyway, we took our exploratory
drive and June Lake is pretty much right between those two cities. Mammoth Lakes is a few miles further south. (Also, a spectacular, scenic, area).
we were driving, I saw a sign that read “June Lake Loop” a fourteen mile loop off of HWY 395. I yelled “turn Jim”; not having a clue what was on this loop. Well, I’ll tell you, it was the surprise of my
life and became one of the big joys of our life. We took a right and headed across flat cattle grazing land towards the granite mountains, in about ¾ of a mile we turned the bend and I felt I was in little Switzerland. Honestly, it was thrilling
for me then and still is now! We couldn’t believe our good fortune to “stumble” upon such a lovely place. June Lake Loop (14 miles total) has four lakes, Grant Lake, Silver Lake, Gull Lake right up against Carson Peak, and then
June Lake! The last three are surrounded by Granite Mountains! Right at June Lake is the small, quaint village of June Lake. It contains a general store, bait & tackle shop, ice cream homemade candy shop, and various restaurants & souvenir
shops, etc... It is darling community with 3 Seasons: skiing, fishing, & fall colors! Except this year Mammoth Mountain Resorts has closed the ski resort on June Mountain for the 2012-2013 seasons. Mammoth Mt. Resorts operate the ski resort in Mammoth Lake and shuttlde skiers betwen June Lake and Mammoth Mt.
We stay at the only place actually on June Lake called, The Boulder Lodge the only hotel with lake views. It is kind of an aging place but, we get a room on the second of three levels that from the backside, you just drive up to, so no stairs for us.
All rooms have a balcony with chairs overlooking the lake. We used to get a small kitchenette place but I prefer our room now, room 207. It has been remodeled, and I can lie in a decent bed, (one of the things I’m best at) J and look at the
lake. They have a small fridge and microwave which is perfect. After cooking on the Walker River portion of the trip, I was ready for two of my favorite June Lake restaurants. One is casual, The Tiger Bar and the second, The Carson Peak Inn, is expensive and worth every penny of it. The Tiger Bar, is all knotty pine w/juke box fish hanging
on the wall, and a long bar. In addition there are booths & tables. They serve “killer breakfasts” and lots of homemade dishes for lunch & dinner. It takes me back to vacations in Wisconsin. Our favorite waitress Jill
always has new exciting, true stories of the bears and raccoons that have broken in to her vehicle. Amazing stories, actually, it used to be that the bears had to smell something, but she said she has a brand new vehicle, and recently they broke in.
Scary!!! The bears in that area are frequent, nosy and troublesome! This whole area is actually the backside of Yosemite National Park, and there you are told not to even leave gum wrappers in your car!!!
Our other favorite restaurant is the Carson Peak Inn, which opens at 5:00 PM. It is located in a house nestled in the pine trees and serves one meal, the dinner meal. I love, love, love this place. When you walk in, it is a warm, cozy, entrance area
, they escort you to a small bar area or the other side into cozy dining room, with wood paneled walls and a few windows with seating of about eight large leather booths and a few small tables down the center of the room overlooking the woods.
It is lighted with candles and small intimate light fixtures and sets the mood perfectly for one of the best dinners you will ever have. Because they limit the seating, and straddle the customers, you get tableside service and every dish is excellent
quality, cooked to order perfectly. They have amazing steaks and fresh seafood. They specialize in “combo” dinners. I had just had a filet the night before so ordered the Halibut AND Scallops. My gosh, they were soooo
good and perfectly prepared. All of their seafood is fresh, and their beef is Prime so although their menu is limited, it is exceptional. They are open 365 days a year and have such limited seating space, reservations are recommended. They
have a pretty adequate wine list. June Lake homeowners are affluent as are some of the tenants of beautiful properties in the area, so can afford the prices. In case you are curious, our meal, with a decent bottle of wine ran about $130.00 plus tip.
Then you have the Surf & Turf (lobster tail & filet mignon), which can cost $100+ per person. I’m not kidding; my mouth and senses are watering right now just thinking of our special dinners at The Carson Peak Inn!!!! The exterior is very
misleading. Looks like an old house that could use a little TLC; the charm is still there. The atmosphere, service, food, and presentation is second to none. A little of the Bay Area in June Lake.
On this trip, we stayed Sunday night thru Wednesday. The weather was perfect, sunny and in the 80’s during the day and high 30’s at night. Since I have had all of my dislocated etc. hips,
fused ankles, etc., I cannot get into a boat easily, so we don’t fish anymore, which quite honestly breaks my heart. However, this year, we decided to splurge and rent a patio boat for half a day, take a lunch and a few beers & cruise around
the lake. Actually, Scott, my son had sent me up a bottle of Dom Pérignon, (love it but too many people to share it with) to the Walker River for my birthday and I thought about taking it out on the lake. However, sanity returned and I remembered
that if I drank that whole bottle, (Jim does not like champagne) I would most probably fall in the lake or off the dock when we got back! Those things happen to me frequently, so in my “old age” maybe I‘m finally getting some good sense,
(how incredibly boring)! Without thechampagne, I still managed to have a glorious time, we both did. I think the feeling of being in the boat, on the water, on a beautiful day, in the midst of all this spectacular scenery,
makes me happier than anything!!
Because we splurged on the boat, we skipped another expensive dinner and had picnics. That was great fun too!!
One of the most exciting things for us was this whole area FINALLY got cell phone service. Prior to that we would spend hours on HWY 395 driving up and down looking for “bars” on our phone so I could check for messages. This was
not a place to vacation when you are a busy Realtor like I am. I left messages with everyone giving hotel numbers, etc., but being able to use the cell phone is fantastic.
At the June Lake Marina, we met the most darling guy, Dick that ran the marina. He had a thick headful of snowy white hair, a fabulous tan and an incredible smile and personality. He retired from a national auto parts sales job,
he convinced his wife to sell everything, buy a great RV and “hit the road”. They did just that. He took the job for the summer, and in the winter he and his wife go over to Mammoth Lakes ski resort and work there. They ski, hike,
boat, and sometimes accompany the ski patrols etc., etc. and they are in their 70’s. His next stop is not known at this time. I was incredibly jealous because had I not had all the bone problems I’ve had & Jim his heart problems; we would
have loved that life. But, as the saying goes, “It Is What It is” and we are so fortunate to do the things we do and share all of these wonderful adventures that we are” able” do, both physically and financially. We met his wife at
breakfast the following day and she was equally charming and energetic.
We were saddened to hear that the city of Mammoth Lakes had just declared bankruptcy. Mammoth Lakes is much larger,
full of high quality hotels, etc., and is famous for its skiing resort. I just hope it does not financially affect the beautiful, charming, little borough of June Lake because it is considered a year-round vacation destination.
In the summer Mammoth Mountain has a lot of bikers in the area. There are a number of buses towing trailers for bicycles. They take you up the mountain, drop you off to ride the trails, then you
coast down. Good brakes are highly recommended.
Well it is Thursday morning and we have packed up and left our beloved June Lake for another year. I have told
my children what a magical place it is, but haven’t convinced them yet. It even has a wonderful 5 Star Resort, The Double Eagle Resort and Spa which I know they would love, but so far they’re not convinced. I’m seriously, thinking, of requesting my
ashes be deposited there when I die so they can see for once and for all, a place that meant so much to their Mom.
Tioga Pass, HWY 120, is 10 minutes north,
so we head over Yosemite Park to go home. I always tell Jim to drive slowly because the drive to our final destination, Brentwood, CA. in the Delta area of San Francisco (not, “OJ Brentwood” located in So. CA.) is part of the trip. The drive
Soon (Sept. 9) the 32nd annual “12.4 Mile Tioga Pass Run” will be held.
Starts at Lee Vining, CA (elevation 6,700 ft.) to the top of Tioga Pass (elevation 10,000 ft.) and the “good news” there is only one hill.
The drive takes us approximately 4 hours to get home. The trip was stupendous, the scenery outstanding, and seeing our friends at the Walker River, unforgettable!! (Especially since my son Dan and his good friend Russ surprised me for my birthday!)
When we arrive home, the tedious job of unpacking a Chrysler Mini-Van packed “to the gills” begins!!!! A simple, unassuming trip, but filled with such love & joy that we can’t wait till next year!!!!!!! I wish you all
could take a trip like this and just appreciate the quiet joy of spending good times with old friends and loved ones and soaking in the wonder of some of the most spectacular scenery that ever God created. Except for a splurge here and there, the cost reasonable,
considering it leaves such wonderful lasting memories each and every year!!!!
Move your mouse over the pictures (slide show) to view the comments and check
out my video.
Have a great day!
- To see more pictures of June Lake Loop. Click here.
- What will $14,900,000 buy in June Lake? Click here.
June lake has a population of approximatley 600+, an elevation of 7,600+ ft., the ski resort (June Mt.) has an elevation of 10,000+ ft.