My favorite stretch of lonely road in the world is the 200 miles of Highway 395 south from Topaz Lake, where it enters California from Nevada, where these pictures were taken, south through Bridgeport and the turnoff to Bodie, past Mono Lake, Mammoth, through the Owens Valley, the nice town of Bishop, then the historic site at Manzanar. The highest point in the lower 48, Mt. Whitney, is on the right and the lowest, Death Valley, on the left. South of Lone Pine the terrain gets more desolate and, if you love serious desert, it’ll be your kind of landscape.
It sounds like there’s a lot going on but, in reality, it’s mostly a stunning long stretch of 2 lane road, beautiful in any season. Before I moved back to the western side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this road up the eastern side was my favorite route to or from Arizona. These brilliant cottonwoods were the last gasp of fall color on a November drive going south with early snow on the peaks. The road is high by Sierra standards, with summits between 7,000 and 8,000 feet, and despite being on the dry side of the divide, has some serious winter weather. The next time was northward, and I dodged a storm and icy roads. At 4,000 feet, I holed up with friends in Bishop for a couple of days to miss the worst of it, before continuing on to Reno and the only reliably open road west, I-80 over Donner Pass into Northern California.
I have no good reason to go that way these days. But Reno is only an hour away, then a right turn to pleasantly old-fashioned Carson City and my favorite road. Don’t think I won’t.
Read more about Highway 395 here.
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