Although not as well known as Route 66, Highway 395 has its own unique claim to fame. In the 1930s, it was heralded as the “Three Flags Highway” because it linked Mexico, the United States, and Canada. We’ve always appreciated Highway 395 because it offers an alternative to the mind-numbingly boring and traffic-crazed length of I-5 that traverses California.
Beginning Our Highway 395 Adventure
We planned to pick up 395 in the high desert of eastern Oregon, but what we were most excited about is a 150-mile section that starts in Bridgeport, California, ending in Lone Pine. It’s one of the most beautiful and interesting stretches of road that you can imagine. Here, Highway 395 traverses the high peaks of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, skirts the otherworldly landscape of Mono Lake, and ends in a unique panorama of boulders and arches known as the Alabama Hills.
We began our Highway 395 adventure at Goose Lake State Park in Lakeview, Oregon. A mere 110 miles from our last stop in Rocky Point, Oregon, we’ve stayed here several times and always found it quiet and peaceful. This time, we found it quieter than usual. Much to our dismay, the park was closed for the season. Stealth camping is not our style (we’re way too obvious with a 27-foot trailer and a big truck). But with dusk falling, we parked in the day-use area and called it a night, hoping that the sheriff wouldn’t come knocking on our door.
With a very early start the next morning and an uneventful 230-mile drive, we pulled into Washoe Lake State Park in Nevada. It’s a terrific overnight spot just south of Reno. There are no hookups, but the sites are spacious and pretty, set among the fragrant sagebrush, and a reasonable $17 per night. Despite the name, there was no lake—with sufficient rain, however, the lake will reappear.
A Few Days At Beautiful June Lake
Day three and 135 miles from Washoe Lake, we arrived at June Lake, our destination for the beginning of our explorations. A mere two miles off of 395, Oh Ridge campground is nestled into a spectacularly scenic location, set at 7,600 feet in a Ponderosa pine and juniper forest. Surrounded by the high peaks of the Sierra, our site overlooked the lovely lake, which changes from cobalt to aquamarine to silver depending on the time of day. Mid-October is the perfect time to enjoy the fall foliage.
We spent our five days at June Lake immersed in hiking the nearby trails and visiting nearby Mono Lake. Things are pretty quiet in the tiny town of June Lake this time of year, but to our delight, there was a little microbrewery. June Lake Brewing doesn’t look like much (a renovated garage, perhaps?) but the beer is excellent, and there’s a neon orange food truck (Ohanas 395) in the parking lot that turns out delicious chicken, fish, and pork tacos. The Smokin’ Porter at the brewery is excellent, too. Everything was so good, we ate here twice.
Should you be here in the fall, take time to drive the June Lake Loop, a 14-mile scenic drive that winds through the mountains and past four subalpine lakes strung like jewels on a necklace. It’s a lovely drive at any time of year, but especially fine when the aspens are dressed in their autumn attire of bright gold and orange.
About The Campground
Oh Ridge is a beautiful Forest Service campground with no hookups, but with conveniently located water faucets (you can fill your tanks without moving your RV), excellent Verizon coverage, and only $12.50 per night (with the Senior Pass). It’s a great location for hikes in the high Sierra, driving the beautiful June Lake Loop, and visiting nearby Mono Lake.
Not all of the sites are RV friendly. Most are terribly unlevel and impossible for all but the smallest trailers. The Duck Loop, however, has long level sites. As a bonus, some of the sites (27-30) have amazing views of the lake. In scouting around the campground, we also liked sites 158 and 159, above the Duck Loop and with a distant view of the lake. With long, cold, snowy winters in the Sierra, the campground closes at the end of October for the season.