Crisp mountain air. Shimmering lakes. Scenic drives. Colorful fall foliage. Welcome to June Lake, California: a rustic little mountain town in the high Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains packed with scenic trails to explore, breathtaking mountain views to admire, aspens to frolic in, lakes to swim in, and plenty of fish to catch if you’re into that sort of thing (we’re not, but if we were, this’d be one of the best places to try it out).
Every year around this time, I start fiending for fall foliage like a crazy person. I mean, hello, I was born in New England and grew up in the Midwest – both lands of pumpkin spice lattes and crunchy leaves. Fall has always been my favorite season, and the lack of fall is probably my biggest complaint about living in the Bay Area, California.
Somehow, it took me years to realize that California does, in fact, have beautiful fall foliage. You just have to know where to find it. Hint: it’s in the mountains! Last year, for the first time, I got to experience Mono County’s stunning annual fall foliage display firsthand.
I visited June Lake with a couple of girlfriends in mid-October, and it turns out that June Lake is by far one of the best places in Northern California and the Eastern Sierras to see fall foliage!
Here you’ll find our guide of the best things to do and where to stay in June Lake, California!
Table of Contents
Psst: Looking for more fantastic getaways in California? Check out some of our other posts to help you plan your trip!
- 8 Scenic Day Hikes in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas, California
- Where to Stay Near Yosemite National Park
- 14 Epic Things to do in Yosemite National Park, California
- The Ultimate Lake Tahoe Summer Guide: Complete Guide to the Perfect Summer at Lake Tahoe
Psst Looking for more California tips? Sign up and we’ll send you travel tips for our favorite spots in California!
June Lake FAQ’s
Chances are you haven’t heard much about June Lake (until now!). That’s OK, because before I visited, I’d never even heard of it! Here are a few crucial pieces of information that will help you plan your trip to June Lake.
What is the best time of the year to visit June Lake?
We visited in early October, and frankly – without having seen it at any other time of the year – I’d say that’s the best time, full stop. June Lake’s fall foliage is freakin’ EPIC. Mid-October is the best time to catch peak June Lake fall foliage!
That said: it’s poppin’ all year round. If you’re looking for a perfect outdoorsy mountain escape with stunning scenery, lakes to play in, and quaint, mountain town vibes, then you should visit June Lake in the summer.
If you want to hit the slopes and ski or snowboard, June Mountain ski resort is a much cheaper and quieter option than Lake Tahoe in the winter.
By the way: in the mountains, winter lasts A LOT longer than it does at sea level, so when we say “winter” we mean “depending on the snowpack that year, winter might actually last until June.” If you’re visiting in the spring, check out the weather report or snowpack report at June Mountain to find out whether you should pack shorts or snow gear.
When does the June Lake fall foliage peak?
In general, October is your best bet for the bright yellows and oranges that blanket the mountains in this area. But you don’t actually have to guess: Mono County does all the work for you!
Their epic foliage tracker will tell you exactly where to find the best foliage and what percent the leaves have turned every single day during fall. It’s a fantastic resource for California-based leaf peepers who start wearing sweaters in 80-degree weather and frantically re-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix the minute Labor Day is over (hi, me).
Our visit to June Lake on the first week of October was just before peak foliage, but we still saw plenty of bright colors (especially on our drive to and from June Lake through Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, respectively). Mid October to early/mid-November is probably the best bet for peak foliage!
How do you get to June Lake?
Half the fun of visiting June Lake is the road trip to get there! The closest city to June Lake is Reno, Nevada, a 3 hour drive from June Lake. Fly directly into Reno and be sure to stop in Lake Tahoe on your trip.
You can also drive to June Lake from either Los Angeles or San Francisco. Either drive is absolutely stunning, with excellent opportunities to detour through some of California’s best National Parks along the way – more details on that later!
- Coming from San Francisco, it will take 4-6 hours to get to June Lake, depending on how often you pull over to take photo after photo of the jaw-dropping scenery around you (uh, we stopped a LOT).
- From Los Angeles, it will take 5-6 hours.
Don’t feel like a road trip? Take a direct flight into Mono County! The airport is just half an hour’s drive from June Lake.
What is the elevation of June Lake?
June Lake sits at 7,654’ above sea level, which means it’s relatively high elevation for most of our sea-level dwellers in the rest of California. You’ll probably feel the elevation while you’re hiking …. or drinking. In either case, pace yourself and drink twice the amount of water than you would normally.
June Lake: Fall Packing Tips
June Lake is fully seasonal, and to our delight, it was cheerfully chilly and autumnal during our visit in October! (This is like, a big deal coming from the land of “it’s somewhere between 65 and 75 every day, all year long.”) Because June Lake is a great spot for outdoorsy activities, we’ve included a few recommendations for our favorite fall-appropriate travel gear.
- Hiking Pants: When we weren’t hiking during our trip, we were kayaking or in and around a lake – and you never know when you might find yourself scrambling up or down a mountain in the Eastern Sierras. My favorite hiking pants are the prAna Halle pants and their skinny-legged sisters, the Briann pants, which I wore on this trip. They’re stretchy, rugged, incredibly quick-drying, legitimately cute, and up to any of the challenges I’ve thrown at them over the years!
- Warm Flannel Shirt: It’s fall. Everyone needs a good flannel shirt in the fall. This one is mine. It’s blended with wool so not only is it extra warm and cozy, but it’s naturally antibacterial too, AND temperature regulating in heat or warmth or when wet (it’s even flame retardant! Wool is amazing). Also, it’s stretchy and fits over my boobs without that awkward button gap in the front. And there’s even a zippered hidden pocket! Fave.
- Fall Jacket: I brought this prAna jacket along and it was perfect: warm but not too hot, stretchy and cozy, plenty of pockets, water-resistant, and light enough to throw in my bag.
- Waterproof Socks (and/or Water Shoes): When we rented our kayak, the guy helping us looked down at our shoes, laughed, and then walked away shaking his head. Translation: “you’re gonna get wet.” There’s no dock on Silver Lake, so we had to wade calf-deep in the cold water to cast off our kayaks. If I had brought my waterproof socks, which keep my feet and wool socks nice and dry in my mesh trail-runners, I would have been fine.
- Trail Runners: Whether you’re going on a quick hike or a nice long wander, these trail runners are the perfect travel-friendly hiking shoe. Unlike hiking boots, they’re nice and lightweight and take up very little space in your suitcase. But they’re up to the challenge of any terrain I’ve tested thus far, and have been my favorite hiking shoes for years! For more information about trail runners & why I love these shoes in particular, take a look at my women’s travel shoes guide.
- Camelbak: Another hiking necessity? Plenty of water! June Lake sits at an elevation of 7,654’ which means you’ll need a LOT more water than usual to maintain your hydration level. My favorite Camelbak feels like nothing on my back and carries 100oz of water, plus room for snacks and extra layers! If you’ll be taking photos like crazy (like we were), this hiking daypack & hydration pack doubles as a camera bag!
- Warm Hat, Gloves, and Scarf: Half for the fall ~lewk and half for legitimate warmth – I was glad I had these with me, especially when we woke up super early to catch the sun rising over Gull Lake!
- Instant Coffee & Thermos: If you don’t wake up early to watch the sun rising over the mountains with a mug of hot coffee in your hand, did you even go to the mountains?! The whole “coffee in the mountains” vibe is like, my personal idea of heaven, sooooo I brought Instagram to real life with my favorite third wave instant coffee (YES, it’s legitimately delicious) and the cutest thermos, which I would link for you except it was a gift from the Visit California tourism board at a conference, and I can’t for the life of me find it online. So instead, I recommend a Stanley thermos, which one of my travel companions brought along. Her coffee literally stayed piping hot for 8 hours, y’all. Now that’s rugged AF.
Things to Do in June Lake
Now that we’ve covered the helpful stuff, let’s get to the goods: the best things to do in June Lake! Also: all of the photos I took in June Lake in the fall! Just kidding, this is the pared-down version. How many pictures of trees is too much?! The answer is about 50, it turns out.
Take a Road Trip
Half the fun of visiting June Lake is the road trip to get there! During the spring, summer and fall you can take a scenic detour through Yosemite National Park or Lake Tahoe on your way to June Lake from San Francisco.
You’ll be passing next to Sequoia National Park, King’s Canyon National Park, Death Valley National Park & Mount Whitney coming from Los Angeles. Dayum, that’s a lot of National Parks.
For most of those National Parks, you’ll need to pay the $30 entrance fee if you want to pop in or drive through, but your pass lasts for a full 7 days so you can cut through it on the way back or stay for a few days to explore!
Or, if you’ll be hitting a few National Parks this year, we recommend picking up an America is Beautiful National Parks Pass! The pass is valid at over 2,000 National Parks and 10% of the sale proceeds are donated to the National Park Foundation, helping to keep our parks beautiful & accessible. The pass quickly pays for itself after just a few visits. You can pick up a pass online at REI or in person at any National Park!
- Yosemite Travel Tip: During the winter, the Tioga Pass in Yosemite is closed so you won’t be able to drive through the park. But although the North entrance from Highway 120 is closed from October-ish to April or May, the South entrance is open year-round – and Yosemite is GORGEOUS in the winter. By the way, we’ve got a guide to where to stay near the entrance to Yosemite National Park – you’ll drive right past our favorite lodge on your way to June Lake from San Francisco!
On our drive from San Francisco, we passed through Yosemite and a bunch of other spots I wish we could have stopped to explore. We drove right through Calaveras County, full of cute little western towns!
- Stop at Murphys on the way to June Lake to drink some wine, soak up all those wild western Gold Country vibes, and check out the amazing Mercer Caverns.
- Check out Angels Camp and pay tribute to Mark Twain who found inspiration for one of his stories here. Which story, you ask? Oh, it was “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras,” based on the famous annual Frog Jumping Jubilee right here in Angels Camp. Did anything I just said make sense to you? No? Here, take a look at the Frog Hop of Fame. Enjoy!
We also passed through Groveland, where we stopped at the Mountain Sage Cafe for coffee and, bonus, made some adorable dog friends. Mountain Sage is also a nursery and concert venue, so if you visit in the summertime you can admire the plants and check out their event schedule.
You’ll also pass right by Glory Hole Recreation Area, which is only important because I’m immature. Shortly after Glory Hole there’s a sign for Jackass Hill Road, followed by a sign for Tuttletown, and if you’re 5 years old on the inside like I am this will provide you with a solid 45 minutes of idiotic snickering.
Drive the Scenic June Lake Loop
June Lake is the namesake of the scenic June Lake Loop, a 16-mile drive through towering aspens, rugged mountains, and glacial lakes. Just two miles and 20 minutes off Highway 395, the June Lake Loop takes you through the beautiful town of June Lake (where we based ourselves to explore the Loop) as well as between Lee Vining, at the entrance of Yosemite National Park, and the outdoor paradise of Mammoth Lakes.
You can cover the entire scenic drive within an hour or two or you can spend a few days exploring all the Loop has to offer (and it has a LOT to offer). It’s basically an outdoor lover’s dream with all types of trails to hike, places to bike and sail, food and drinks, and Instagram-worthy photo spots.
- June Lake is the first of four lakes you’ll hit, and it’s an awesome place to swim or lay on the beach after the drive in or capture a gorgeous photo of the lake and mountains.
- Make sure you check out the quirky little slot machine plaque located right at the gate! Apparently there are a ton of slot machines at the bottom of the 60 ft deep lake, which we obviously did not find.
- The Obsidian Dome is a huge natural dome made up of a pile of lava that turned into cool black-glass rocks (sounds more boring than it really is, I promise).
Become Low-Key Obsessed with Quirky Local History
June Lake, like any good dusty old mountain town in California, has tons of fascinating and quirky history. Other than mountain vibes and foliage views and stuff, quirky history is my favorite reason to visit a historic California town, so I weirdly asked every local I met in town for their favorite local myths & legends (you know … for “research”).
What I found out is that from ghosts to alien cults to Old Hollywood glamour to slot machines at the bottom of the lake, it turns out that June Lake is weird and haunted as sh*t. Oh. Hell. Yes.
Here are my favorite very odd facts about June Lake:
- Way back in the glamorous day, June Lake was quite the hotspot! Old Hollywood stars used to come to June Lake for vacations (and probably to recover from the consumption, if we had to guess). Notable guests from Old Hollywood include Fred Astaire, one of the Three Stooges, Clark Gable, and Charlie Chaplin.
- In 1906, The Church of Cosmic Origin was founded by Hope Troxell, who taught “expanded concepts” of “cosmic Christianity.” The church is basically an “alien church” and attendees believe that aliens will be coming to land on Carson Peak (which is like, that mountain you see in all of our photos). Where do we sign up? I love a cult. I’d normally provide a link here for additional reading, but I literally couldn’t find anything online, WHICH ONLY MAKES ME MORE CURIOUS. If anyone has any more information, please drop us a comment, we need to know more.
- June Lake is said to be haunted by a little boy in the lake. Yellow apparitions can also be seen walking on and around June Lake, so keep your eyes peeled for paranormal activity! Are those the aliens, maybe? Did they show up early?? Are we late?!!?
- Apparently, the guy who started the 98 cent store has a giant mansion somewhere in town, complete with a casino. Whoever this guy is also host bangin’ parties at the mansion – invite-only. Ahem: we gladly accept invitations to any and all mysterious mountain town parties, please email us.
- Woody the Woodpecker was born in June Lake!!! Okay, maybe he wasn’t born there, but the founders who created Woody the Woodpecker got the inspiration to create him after a woodpecker was disrupting the peace and quiet of their cabin while they were honeymooning in June Lake. Anyone who’s ever camped in California and been woken up by a Stellar’s Jay squawking at full, obnoxious volume will understand.
- Bodie State Historic Park is the biggest ghost town in the west and is located nearby, just west of Yosemite. It costs $8 to enter and walk around the creepy, deserted streets, or go on a haunted Ghost Walk. We have yet to visit Bodie and I’m super upset about it.
Fuel Up for an Adventure
Breakfast is the best meal of the day, especially in June Lake! There are 2 excellent options for breakfast, depending on if you’re grabbing and going or sitting down for a nice long brunch.
- Silver Lake Resort has THE BEST breakfast in town, hands down. From massive omelets to giant plates, you definitely won’t leave hungry. Definitely go full glutton and order the biscuits and gravy, because holy sh**, it’s delicious. Also, important note: the bacon here is excellently crispy. I’m officially a breakfast snob and I’m not ashamed of it.
- The Lift is the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee and breakfast to go if you’re heading out early in the morning to hit the slopes or go on a hike. One of the newest spots in town, The Lift is super hip, from the huge gorgeous mural of Carson Peak (as seen from the 395, fun fact) covering one wall to the kombucha on tap and fair trade coffee imported from Portlandia. The Lift is super close to the ski lift – which is likely its namesake, I just realized – and opens at 6:30am, perfect for crazy people who do crazy things like wake up at dawn to do outdoor sports … things. Later in the day, The Lift turns into a hip wine bar serving beer and wine from all over northern California.
Go Kayaking on Silver Lake
Whether you’re an expert kayaker or you’ve never touched a kayak in your life, kayaking on Silver Lake is NOT to be missed. This was my favorite activity during our trip to June Lake, and I can’t recommend it enough!
You can rent a kayak, paddles and life jackets right on the shore of the lake from Silver Lake Resort, conveniently located directly across the street from the best breakfast in town.
Exactly 5 seconds after renting your kayak, you will be ready to hop in the water. No muss, no fuss, no driving to a drop-in point, no 20-minute instructional video, just “here’s your kayak, bye.” I am here for the efficiency, y’all.
The only instruction we were given was the head to the far back left corner of the lake and look for a red door. We were told that this red door would lead us to “wildife Disneyland,” which sounded promising and mysteriously vague. So we dutifully paddled all the way across the lake to the red door, stopped at a sandbar for photos, and – sure enough – found a tiny little stream winding quietly into the marshlands.
We paddled our way into this tantalizing path as the lake vanished behind us and was replaced with trees, marshes, and above us, the towering face of Carson Peak. We could have paddled on and on for hours – this gorgeous little waterway leads to several more lakes!
Even though it was quite the challenge steering a kayak through the tiny twists and turns of the curvy little inlet, this was such a fun outing, and remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever kayaked in my life.
- June Lake Travel Tip: Wear waterproof boots or quick-dry shoes with waterproof socks, because you WILL need to do a little wetfoot portaging, which is a fancy outdoorsy way of saying you’re gonna have to walk through water and get your feet wet. I wore my Altra Lone Peak trail runners with wool socks and wished I’d remembered to bring my waterproof socks with me. If you’re not afraid of looking like the dad in a family vacation movie, you can rock Tevas with waterproof socks (because the water is cold and I’d rather feel my toes than look cool, just sayin’). I also recommend quick-drying pants – I wore my prAna Briann Pants.
Aside from fishing, hiking is one of the best things to do in June Lake. There are so many beautiful lake- and mountain-side trails to choose from and each of them is its own adventure. (Psst: we’ve got a guide to hiking in the eastern Sierras right here!)
Depending on how rough and tough of a hiker you are, you might want to stick with the quick and easy 2 mile trails that aren’t so steep. If you’re experienced and are down for a challenge, prepare to burn a ton of calories on the more rugged 10 mile hikes.
- The Gull Lake Loop is a short but sweet 1.9 mile dog-friendly hike. There’s a map at the community center that offers a nice self guided 30-minute flat stroll. If you want an easy June Lake hike like me, this is the one for you.
- Parker Lake is a 3.8 mile hike around one of the smaller lakes that takes about 2.5 hours to complete. This trail kicks off with a steep incline but quickly offers breathtaking views of Mono Lake and summits in the distance. Locals say this hike is one of the best in the area to see fall foliage!
- Yost Trails to Yost Lake is a 10 mile hike. Yost Trails trailhead is right off the June Lake Loop near Double Eagle Resort & Spa and it’s 3.8 miles to Yost Lake. The views are GORGEOUS with wildflowers paving the trails, sunshine, and scenic views of the mountains. If you go the full distance, it’s a pretty demanding hike – so be prepared to hit the Double Eagle spa after.
- The Fern Creek Trail to Fern Lake is rated “difficult” so prepare for a strenuous hike. The lake views are totally worth the rough trek though!
Looking for more hikes in the eastern Sierra Nevadas? We’ve got a great roundup that includes 3 more hikes in June Lake:
Do Outdoor Sports … Things
It sounded weird to say “do an outdoor sport” so … anyway. Outdoor sports are some of the best things to do in June Lake, and there are tons of options thanks to the surrounding mountains and shimmering lakes! Depending on what time of the year you visit, you’ll have different options available for your outdoor sporting … activities (ok, that definitely sounds weird. How do people say this normally?!).
- Hiking & Kayaking: In spring, summer, and fall, the best outdoor things to do in June Lake are hiking and kayaking, which we’ve covered in detail elsewhere in this guide.
- Fishing: In the summer, you can go fishing in June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake for Lahontan cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout.
- Swimming: June Lake is the best for swimming, whereas Grant Lake is the biggest lake that’s perfect for jet skiing and waterskiing. You can rent fishing bait and tackle from Ernie’s Tackle and Ski Shop and boats and other water sports equipment from Gull Lake Marina.
- Skiing & Snowboarding: In the winter, hit the slopes! June Mountain is home to excellent skiing and snowboarding with over 1500 acres worth of mountains to enjoy. If you’re not as athletically inclined (me), you can also go sledding and snow-shoeing or take a professional ski lesson. The resort offers all different types of gear and equipment to rent, even including snowmobiles!
- More Nearby Lakes: Virginia Lakes is a nearby spot in the Eastern Sierras made up of nearly a dozen alpine lakes located at nearly 10,000 feet of elevation. There are tons of hiking trails, trout fishing spots, camping, and cabins for rent at Virgina Lakes Resort, open from May to Columbus Day. You can adventure around here for a day or two if you don’t want to stay in the immediate June Lake area.
Frolic in Fall Foliage
We went to June Lake In October because it’s hands down one of the most amazing places to see fall foliage in California, and every September 1st I start fiending for some crisp mountain air and brightly colored leaves. Once the weather gets cooler and summer starts winding down in late August, the leaves in the Eastern Sierras start changing to yellow and bright orange.
Colorful foliage views are pretty much guaranteed during mid-September, and reach their peak around mid-October. Once you start getting into November, you’re risking snowfall. Ahem: this is where I’ll be making my regularly scheduled reference to The Donner Party. I made my poor road trip buddies listen to the Last Podcast on the Left episode about the Donner Party on our drive back, and it was super intense – highly recommend.)
You HAVE to spend time at each of the four lakes on June Lake Loop to soak in the changing colors reflecting off the water! Other picture-perfect views can be found at Sawtooth Mountain Range, McGee Creek, and Lundy Canyon, all of which are only a short drive away from the heart of June Lake.
Take Jaw-Dropping Photos
Just from checking out the #junelake hashtag on Instagram, you can see that this place is FULL of gorgeous places to take photos. With mountains and trees towering over the clear blue lake water, you’re bound to hit some photo-worthy pit stops along your trek around the June Lake Loop.
In almost every season, keep an eye out for the wildflowers alongside the hiking trails. You’ll literally want to stop and smell the flowers… and take pictures of them too. (See also: aspens. I think I hugged like 18 aspens.)
- The first breathtaking photo you need to take is right when you enter June Lake, off Highway 395, with the road snaking upwards into the mountains. It is That Shot. Please just be careful of oncoming cars!
- We found a similarly stunning spot on Highway 158, in front of the sign for the June Lake Loop.
- Hike up 20 minutes to score an awesome June Lake town shot of the entrance and aspens across from the fire station and the trailhead to Yost Trail.
- What better photo opp is there than a sunrise a lake? Wake up early to catch the sunrise (and a photo) on June Lake. The colors of the sky reflecting off the water will guarantee at LEAST 100 likes on Instagram.
- Speaking of reflections, you’ll also need a photo of Silver Lake with the reflecting mountains in the lake, especially during the fall with color-changing leaves on the trees.
- Gull Lake Marina has a picture-perfect spot to take pics right in front of the “Welcome To Gull Lake Marina” sign and bench. The backdrop features Gull Lake, insane mountains, and yellow-green-red leaves (if you go in the fall, which you should!). We also took advantage of an empty dock here to take some “pensively sitting and gazing at the mountains” photos. You know the kinds of photos I mean, right? Oh, here’s a good example:
Wind Down with a Drink
Best believe we got our eat and drink on in June Lake! (We weren’t doing any intense hiking, but we definitely ate like we were.) From tacos at Hawaiian food trucks to sophisticated glasses of wine, June Lake Loop plenty of cozy bars perfect for winding down with a nice relaxing drink or two.
- June Lake Brewing is an awesome craft brewery and June Lake’s newest hotspot. No trip to the brewery is complete without picking up food at Ohanas395, an incredible Hawaiian street food truck that sells AMAZING fries and tacos. Only local beer is sold in Mono County so don’t expect to order a Bud Light – shout out to our faves, Alpers Trout Red Ale (5.8%) and Carson Peak Strong Ale (12%!!).
- Eagle’s Landing Restaurant at Double Eagle Resort & Spa is one of the best spots in town to grab a boujie drink and relax with a stunning floor to ceiling view of mountains and waterfalls. They serve amazinggg Bloody Marys and Mimosas, and it’s honestly worth it to stop here for the view along!
- Tiger Bar and Cafe is a local favorite and all-day “traditional” restaurant with cocktails, games, and a jukebox. Play some pool and try their famous Tiger Burger!
- Definitely grab a glass of wine or three at The Lift before you leave. Just don’t go on Tuesdays because they’re closed.
Relax Inside at a Spa
If it’s chilly outside, there’s no better way to wind down than with a massage, facial, swim or dip in the hot tub while watching the snow fall outside through huge glass windows. That’s exactly what you’ll get at the Double Eagle Resort & Spa! Slip on your robe and fancy spa slippers and unwind in the stunning rustic lodge.
As guests at the Double Eagle Resort & Spa, our entry to the beautiful pool & spa was free – if you’re not staying there, it will cost a little bit to use the spa if you don’t book a service.
By the way: my fellow lushes will be delighted to know that they do sell wine and other drinks on the premises (there are smoothies too, if you prefer your spa experience to be healthy, I guess).
Relax Outside in a Hot Spring
There are tons of natural (FREE) hot springs in Mono County to relax in after hiking or fishing that are a short drive away from June Lake.
If you’ve never been to a rugged hot spring before (and no, the swimming-pool sized facilities at Banff National Park do not count, although they are amazing) a word of warning: these are no-frills, all-natural hot springs. There are no locker rooms or changing facilities or paved parking lots, and there are no trash facilities, so Leave No Trace and pack out everything you pack in.
What there are, are some smelly holes full of magical mud and hot AF mineral water in the mountains, and it’s awesome. So wear your swimsuit underneath your clothes or embrace your inner mountain woman and change outside (or, if nobody’s around, just go in the nude – this is California, after all).
Sierra Nevada Travel Tip: Most of the roads to these hot springs are super rough, so you’ll need 4WD and good shock absorption on your vehicle. You definitely shouldn’t take your Prius to any of these spots. That said, we had no problem getting to Travertine Hot Springs!
- Travertine Hot Spring in nearby Bridgeport might just have the best views of the Sierras. Soak in the spring AND the landscapes. We stopped here on our drive back from June Lake and it was absolute perfection!
- Buckeye Hot Spring is located in Toiyabe National Forest on the edge of Yosemite National Park. It’s a cozy little hot spring in the nook of a cave and babbling brook, and it’s also great for camping and hiking. It’s a VERY rough road to get here so beware and plan accordingly.
- Benton Hot Springs are supposed to be the “purest” hot springs in the whole world with incredible views for stargazing at night.
- Wild Willy’s Hot Spring is also known as “Crowley Hot Springs” or “that heart-shaped hot spring I’ve seen on Instagram” and it’s just outside Mammoth Lakes. This is one of the most popular hot springs in the area! Our friends at The Whimsy Soul (who, by the way, planned this trip to June Lake & invited us along!) have an awesome guide to visiting Wild Willy’s.
- Mono Hot Springs: These actually aren’t the best hot springs – they’re kinda just cement squares in the ground. – and they’re way up in the mountains, so not close at all. However, they do happen to be the sight of the first travel disaster Jeremy and I ever experienced together: totaling our car in the Sierra Nevadas! Read the full story here. Yes, I totally only included this bullet point so I could bring that up again. It’s one of my favorite stories!
Where to Stay: June Lake Lodging
For our girl’s weekend getaway, we stayed at the Double Eagle Resort & Spa. It was really nice, but a little out of my normal price range (perfect for a group, though!) If you’re going for a weekend getaway with bae, here are a few more budget-friendly suggestions:
- Heidelberg Inn is where old movie stars used to stay in June Lake, right in the heart of the town. It’s within walking distance to everything, including a beautiful view of the lake itself!
- This dog-friendly Mountain Chalet in June Lake has huge vaulted windows and a gorgeous deck looking directly out on a sheer mountain face with a gushing natural waterfall! The decor is perfectly log cabin themed, and with 4 bedrooms, it’s the perfect pick for a group trip to June Lake!
- Silver Lake Resort is technically in next door Silver Lake, just down the June Lake Loop from actual June Lake, but it’s so cute we just had to include it! The resort has 20 adorable cabins to rent as well as an RV park for BYORVers (jealous). The views of the mountains and brightly colored aspens reflected in Silver Lake are burned into my mind forever, and I’d really like to return and stay here just to look at that every morning over their amazing breakfast!
Ready to throw your hiking gear in your weekend bag and take off on a trip to June Lake? Had you ever heard of June Lake before? Drop us a comment below!
Psst: Looking for more fantastic getaways in California? Check out some of our other posts to help you plan your trip!
- 8 Scenic Day Hikes in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas, California
- The 10 Best Weekend Trips from San Francisco
- Where to Stay Near Yosemite National Park
- The Ultimate Lake Tahoe Summer Guide: Complete Guide to the Perfect Summer at Lake Tahoe
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