Convict Lake is the place I always recommend to any friend visiting the Eastern Sierra—the hike circumnavigating the lake is short enough, at about two miles, for novice trekkers, but the terrain is so varied that to accomplish it feels noteworthy.
Keough’s Hot Springs hasn’t changed a whole heckuva lot since 1919, when Phillip Keough bought the land, envisioning a health resort. The heyday of the hot spring, in the 1920s and ‘30s, saw the resort as a hub of Owens Valley society.
Every year, thousands of hikers and climbers beat down the Mount Whitney Trail. Weighed down by over-stuffed packs and 5-pound boots they trudge up thousands of feet of rock and sand to reach the coveted 14,505-foot summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States.
The petroglyphs in the Volcanic Tablelands outside of Bishop are one of the most awe-inspiring and intriguing things to see in the Eastern Sierra. Their locations are no longer widely advertised, unfortunately, due to destruction of some of the ancient art—if you visit the Chidago Canyon site, you can see where chunks of the volcanic tuff have been shaved off by vandals.
Dust off your cowboy boots, put on your hat and head over to Bishop’s Main Street - there’s only one - to celebrate Mule Days. Here, in the Mule Capital of the World, breeders, trainers, and riders from all over the world come to celebrate the rare creation of a jack and mare.
If you’re not into sliding down hills wearing two planks (or one, if you’re a snowboarder), there’s still plenty to do in the Eastern Sierra in the wintertime, whether you prefer getting your hiking boots on solid dirt or are into the awesome exercise of cross-country skiing (only recently did I realize that a NordicTrack mimics the whole-body workout of this activity).
For all the natural wonders present in the Eastern Sierra, there are almost as many breweries in which to enjoy a libation after your hike, ski, climb or (insert adventure here). From June Lake Brewing in Mono County to Mountain Rambler Brewery in Bishop, the odds of hitting a brewery close to your destination are in your favor.
Oh, John’s Pizza Works, how thou hast saved me many a drunk evening where, in the one-horse town of Mammoth Lakes where no restaurants seem to stay open past 8 p.m., you offer pizza, wings, beer and liquor until midnight (or 11 p.m. on weekdays).