If you have never been to the Eastern Sierra region of California then you should plan a camping getaway there soon. Camping is a popular outdoor recreational activity, a great opportunity to explore the natural wonders of the environment and learn about the wildlife that inhabits it.

The Eastern Sierra is a region of California that includes the eastern part of the Sierra Nevada, which includes some of the most iconic mountain ranges in the United States. The area is filled with many different campgrounds and recreational areas that are ideal for camping.

As you might imagine, the Eastern Sierra is not just a region of California, it is also a state of mind. It is a place where the past meets the future, where the mountains meet the desert, and where old-fashioned meets modern. It is a place where the pure of heart can breathe and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. It is ideal for a camping adventure.

Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why the Eastern Sierra is the best region for a camping adventure.

Which Counties, Cities, and Towns are Covered by the Eastern Sierras?

The Eastern Sierras is mainly made up of two counties, Inyo and Mono. Inyo County, the second-largest county by district in California, and its northern neighbor, Mono County (pronounced moh-no) are two of the least populated counties in California. Together, these two counties cover just under 10 percent of California’s total land area.

Within that, 99 percent of the land in Inyo County and 93.6 percent of Mono County is designated as public lands. This adds up to an incredible amount of beautiful and varied land for adventure and exploration.

The main route is the U.S. Route 395, which runs through Bridgeport, Lee Vining, Bishop, Big Pine, Independence, Lone Pine, and Olancha, and Bishop is the largest city in the area. It is sparsely populated but is famous for its scenery; Key points of interest include Mono Lake, Bodie, Mammoth Lakes, Manzanar, and parts of Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park.

Bishop is the largest city along the highway corridor through the Eastern Sierra and is located in the center of the region. Death Valley National Park is just over 150 miles to the south (almost entirely within Inyo County) and the entrance to Yosemite National Park is just under 150 miles to the north.

The Geography of the Eastern Sierra

The Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range.
The Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The Sierra Nevada mountain range extends for about 400 miles (650 km), from Fredonyer Pass in the north to Tehachapi Pass in the south. It is bordered on the west by California’s Central Valley, and on the east by the Great Basin.
Physiographically, the Sierra Nevada range is a section of the Cascade-Sierra Mountains province, which in turn is part of the larger Pacific Mountain System physiographic division.

In a western-to-eastern cross-section, the Sierra is shaped like a trapdoor: it gradually increases in elevation on the western slope and forms a steep escarpment on the eastern edge. The crest runs along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada range.

Rivers that flow west from the Sierra Crest eventually drain into the Pacific Ocean, while rivers that flow east do not reach any ocean. However, in Los Angeles County, water from several streams and the Owens River is redirected to the city. This means that by artificial means, some river water does make it to the Pacific Ocean.

Notable Geographic Features of the Eastern Sierras

There are several notable geographical features in the Sierra Nevada:

  • Lake Tahoe is a large, clear freshwater lake in the northern Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 6,225 feet (1,897 m) and an area of 191 square miles (489 km²). Lake Tahoe lies between the main Sierra and the Carson Range, a spur of the Sierra.
  • Hetch Hetchy Valley, Yosemite Valley, Kings Canyon, Tehipite Valley, and Kern Canyon are the most well-known of many beautiful, glacially-scoured canyons on the west side of the Sierra.
  • Yosemite National Park is filled with stunning features, such as waterfalls and granite domes.
  • Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m), is the highest point in the contiguous United States. Mt. Whitney is on the eastern border of Sequoia National Park.
  • Groves of Giant Sequoias Sequoiadendron giganteum occur along a narrow band of altitude on the western side of the Sierra Nevada. Giant Sequoias are the most massive trees in the world.

Mountain Peaks of the Eastern Sierras

The Eastern Sierras in the fall.
The Eastern Sierras in the fall.

The height of the mountains in the Sierra Nevada gradually increases from north to south.

  • Between Fredonyer Pass and Lake Tahoe, the peaks range from 5,000 feet (1,524 m) to 8,000 feet (2,438 m).
  • The crest near Lake Tahoe is roughly 9,000 feet (2,700 m) high, with several peaks approaching the height of Freel Peak (10,881 feet, 3,316 m), including Mount Rose (10,776 feet, 3,285 m), which overlooks Reno from the north end of the Carson Range.
  • The crest near Yosemite National Park is roughly 13,000 feet (4,000 m) high at Mount Dana and Mount Lyell, and the entire range attains its peak at Mount Whitney (14,505 feet, 4,421 m).
  • South of Mount Whitney, the range diminishes in elevation, but there are still several high points like Florence Peak (12,405 feet, 3,781 m) and Olancha Peak (12,123 feet, 3,695 m).
  • The range still climbs almost to 10,000 feet (3,048 m) near Lake Isabella, but south of the lake, the peaks reach only a modest 8,000 feet (2,438 m).

Adventuring in the Eastern Sierras

The Sierra Nevada, home to the largest trees in the world—the Giant Sequoias—hosts four national parks, nine national forests, 32 state parks, and approximately 5,300 square miles (13,700 km²) of protected wilderness areas. It is also the location of Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet (4,421 m).

The range is home to many different types of ecosystems and wildlife, including the majestic California condor, the mountain lion, and the black bear.

This land, before time was measured and records were kept, was very different from what we see today. The region once had a vast inland sea. As it dried up and the earth rose, fell, and exploded, the territory developed as we see it today. Seismic forces continue to divide, compact, and shape its landscapes.

The Eastern Sierra, unlike many other primordial lands in the world, remains untouched by human disturbance. It is still wild and varied, with huge mountains and deep valleys. And most of it is easily and freely accessible to all.
Among the many inscrutable treasures tied up and hidden in the depths of the Sierra solitude, no one is sure to surprise and amaze all manner of travelers or the frozen lakes. The forests and glaciers and snow springs proclaim their wealth significantly even in the distance. There are about 1,000 designated glacial lakes in the Sierra Nevada. Many others are identified by their elevation, and no one has names.

Notable tourist destinations in and around the Eastern Sierras include:

  • Mono Lake
  • The Earthquake Fault near Mammoth Lakes
  • Bodie State Historic Park
  • Devil’s Postpile National Monument
  • Manzanar National Historic Site
  • Convict Lake
  • The Museum of Western Film History
  • Mount Whitney
  • Minaret Vista
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Inyo National Forest
  • John Muir Wilderness Area
  • Ansel Adams Wilderness Area
  • Hoover Wilderness
  • Hot Creek Geological Site
  • Buckeye Hot Spring
  • Laws Railroad Museum & Historic Site
  • Panum Crater
  • Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
  • Black Point Fissures
  • Eastern California Museum
  • The Panorama Gondola at Mammoth Lakes
  • Navy Beach
  • The Upside-Down House
  • Mono County Courthouse
  • The Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center
  • Mary Austin’s House
  • Mammoth Museum
  • Mono County Museum

Weather in the Eastern Sierras

The weather in the Eastern Sierra region is very similar to that of the Western Sierra region. Summers are hot and dry with temperatures reaching into the triple digits. Winters are cold and snowy with occasional rain. Snowfall is much heavier in the Eastern Sierra than in the Western Sierra, and there are more days of snow each year.

Camping in the Eastern Sierras

The eastern Sierra region of California is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts with a wide variety of things to do ranging from hiking and biking to fishing and boating.

When planning your trip to the eastern Sierra region of California, it is important to prepare for a hike, a bike ride, or a camping getaway. There are so many things to do in the Eastern Sierra region, you are sure to find something that appeals to you.

Some of the best spots to go camping in the Eastern Sierras include:

  • Mammoth Lakes, CA
  • Grant Lake (part of June Lake Loop)
  • Lee Vining, CA
  • Alabama Hills, CA
  • Twin Lakes, CA
  • Owens River, CA
  • Lake Sabrina (southwest of Bishop)
  • Convict Lake, CA
  • Lundy Canyon (west of Mono Lake)
  • Travertine Hot Springs, CA
  • June Lake, CA
  • Rock Creek Canyon and Crowley Lake

A Final Word on Camping in the Eastern Sierras

A scenic RV camping spot with the sun setting in the background.
A scenic RV camping spot with the sun setting in the background.

If you have never been to the Eastern Sierra region of California then you should plan a camping getaway there soon. The Eastern Sierra region of California is located in the heart of the state and is the perfect location for people who love camping, hiking, and fishing.

The Eastern Sierra region is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year. The mountains offer a wide range of hiking trails, fishing spots, and lakes. The area is full of natural beauty and picturesque landscape. The weather is always pleasant, never too hot and never too cold. The area is inhabited by a wide range of wildlife and the scenery is captivating.

The Eastern Sierra region offers a wide range of campgrounds and RV parks for campers to stay in. Need help planning your camping trip? Give our team at Adventure in Camping a call today at (760) 935-4890.

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