Exploring Hwy 395: June Lake near Mammoth, CA

Photo by my brother Steven Buena

In the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, June Lake is approximately 20 minutes north of Mammoth Lakes, offering alpine scenery and a variety of outdoor recreational activities. During our visit in late March, June Lake transformed into a snow-covered wonderland, attracting skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers. Nearby ski resorts, such as June Mountain, offer slopes and awesome views of the surrounding mountains. Keep reading for travel tips to prep for a visit to June Lake. 

June Lake Facts

With a surface area of 260 acres and a maximum depth of 160 feet, June Lake is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts. The lake is home to a healthy population of rainbow trout, brown trout, and kokanee salmon, making it a destination for anglers seeking a rewarding catch.

In addition to fishing, June Lake offers boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding, when the weather permits. The calm waters and scenic surroundings make it an ideal spot for water-based activities during the summer months. Watch below as we drove past the lake. Snowy peaks made for amazing views:

June Lake also serves as a gateway to the Ansel Adams Wilderness and the Inyo National Forest with access to miles of hiking and biking trails. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the region's forests, meadows, and alpine lakes.

June Lake also features a range of accommodations, including campgrounds, cabins, and resorts, ensuring that visitors can enjoy a comfortable stay. During our visit, the campgrounds were closed due to the snow. 

June Lake Travel Tips

- Pack layers: Weather in the June Lake area can be unpredictable, so it's wise to bring layers that you can easily add or remove based on temperature changes throughout the day. Speaking from experience, I wore a long sleeve shirt, two hoodies, and a windbreaker. This “city slicker” was still cold! I also wore two pairs of pants. 

- Fishing permits: If you plan to fish at June Lake, make sure to obtain the necessary permits and licenses beforehand, as they are required for all anglers aged 16 and older.

- Plan ahead for accommodations: June Lake is a popular destination, especially during peak seasons, so it's advisable to book accommodations in advance to ensure availability. We booked an AIRBNB in Bishop, CA and it was perfect and not too far of a drive. 

- Bring sunscreen and sunglasses: The high altitude and clear skies in the Eastern Sierra can result in intense sun exposure, so don't forget to pack sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from UV rays.

- Stay hydrated: The dry mountain air can lead to dehydration, especially during outdoor activities, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your stay.

- Respect wildlife and nature: June Lake is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, so it's important to practice responsible outdoor behavior, such as properly storing food and disposing of trash in designated bins.

- Check road conditions: In the winter months, road closures and snow chains may be required, so be sure to check road conditions and weather forecasts before traveling to June Lake.

- Explore nearby attractions: Take advantage of the proximity to other attractions in the area, such as Mono Lake, Convict Lake, Hot Creek Geological Site, and Bodie State Historic Park (Note, roads were closed due to the snow so we were told by Anna at the Bishop Visitor’s Center to visit in late July when the snow should be melted). Mammoth Village is a great location with a gondola ($50 per person), which takes you up the mountain.

Trip Recap

While on a mission to visit sites along Highway 395, our first stop was Mono Lake, which you can read about here. After Mono Lake, we attempted to visit Bodie State Historic Park but Google Maps led us down a dirt road, which ended up covered in snow, so we turned around as it seemed risky. 

We then decided to visit June Lake, stopping at June Lake Brewery to see what we could eat. Unfortunately, inside the brewery didn’t serve food so we checked out the food truck outside. My brothers and I had Mexican food the day prior, so we opted for something else. 

We then explored the snowy June Lake village and loved how it was a winter wonderland. 

After exploring the village, we tried to make our way closer to the bottom of June Lake and the snow blocked off most of the road. We saw a ranger with a shovel trying to clear the route for his truck. 

After snapping a few photos and admiring the views, we decided to make our way to Mammoth Village for some food. 

Overall, this lake was much larger than Convict Lake and I loved all the snow. Our drive past the lake was beautiful and I’d love to return in the summer. 

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