California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 45

20

Sierra Adventure

LAKE TAHOE

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP

Take a trip along California's premier mountain
range, the Sierra Nevada-the dramatic granite
backbone defining the state's eastern edge.
Start with a visit to California's turquoise treasure-Lake Tahoe-
then follow spectacular mountain routes to a wish list of alpine
destinations to experience the mountain-town fun of Mammoth Lakes;
the state's tallest peak, Mount Whitney; and the world's largest living
things at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Finish your journey at the majestic waterfalls and granite monoliths of Yosemite.
Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, the High Sierra
gem of Lake Tahoe is a bucket-list staple. Winter and springtime

LEE VINING
YOSEMITE
NATIONAL PARK

MAMMOTH LAKES

snow lets you carve it up at world-class alpine resorts. On the north
shore, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and Northstar California are top
draws. On Tahoe's south shore, Heavenly-one of the world's biggest
ski resorts-offers jaw-dropping lake views from runs as wide and
smooth as freeways. In summer, many of these same resorts offer
warm-weather fun, such as mountain biking, hiking, and scenic tram

SEQUOIA AND KINGS
CANYON NATIONAL PARKS

or gondola rides.

MOUNT WHITNEY

Your route now takes you south on I-395, one of California's most
spectacularly scenic roads, following the base of the soaring Sierra's
eastern side. It's worth the photo op to pull over at Mono Lake near
Lee Vining to see the freakish calcium-carbonate formations called
"tufa towers."
Your next stop is Mammoth Lakes, where lovers of the outdoors
take to the slopes of Mammoth Mountain and nearby June Lakes resorts in winter, then head out on trails when the snow melts to fly-fish
in clear mountain streams, hike and mountain bike through wildflow-

namesake trees. Famous for their giant sequoias, soaring mountains,

ers in high alpine meadows, and dip into natural hot springs.

deep canyons, and roaring rivers, this tandem set of parks has plenty

PHOTOGRAPH: YVETTE CARDOZO

Back on I-395 south, you'll probably have a hard time keeping

to see. Thanks to the General Sherman Tree, the world's largest living

your eyes on the road. That's because you'll want to stare west and

thing, and its gargantuan neighbors, gawking at the big trees is the

up, up, up at some of the tallest mountains in the country. Among

most popular activity here.

these giants is Mount Whitney, which scrapes the sky at 14,494 feet,

Your road trip continues through deep forests on the Sierra Neva-

making it the tallest mountain in the 48 contiguous states. If you're

da's west side, then climbs east again into the mountains. Here lies

not into bagging the summit or didn't get a permit, you can still get a

your final destination of Yosemite, California's first national park and a

satisfying leg stretch to Lone Pine Lake (a roughly five-mile round-

UNESCO World Heritage site. Covering more than 1,100 square miles,

trip hike). Start 13 miles west of Lone Pine at Whitney Portal, a pretty

it boasts unforgettable natural beauty, from the sheer walls of Yosem-

campground in the pines.
Head back into the Sierra, this time to the mountains' west side,
to explore Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks and the park's

ite Valley to the alpine beauty of Tuolumne Meadows, to cascading
waterfalls. Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America,
should be on everyone's must-see list.

45



California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover1
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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Contents
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