Inyo County is California’s second largest county. Highway 395 runs through the center of Inyo County along the Owens River Valley. With the eastern High Sierra to the east, the White Mountains to the west. A road trip along Highway 395 is one of the most scenics in the nation. Inyo County is home to the highest point in the United States, Mount Whitney along with the lowest point Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park. Our list of Inyo County day trips includes points of interest along and near Highway 395. Many We suggest that you take several days or longer to explore this amazing region of California.
Cerro Gordo Ghost Town
In the Inyo Mountains high above the Owens Valley, Cerro Gordo Ghost Town sits abandoned, and alone. Cerro ghost town’s remaining buildings include a hotel, saloon, brothel, and church This side trip may not be for everyone. Getting to Cerro Gordo requires a27 mile trip on a graded dirt road takes to an elevation of 8500. 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for this trip.
The Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns made charcoal that powered the stamping mill at Cerro Gordo mines. Timber arrive at the kilns via a flume that ran down Cottonwood canyon. After the wood was processed into to charcoal it was transported to the town of Keeler via steamboat over the Owens Lake. Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns are located seven miles north of Cartago on Highway 395. There is a small sign at the turnoff. From there proceed about one mile toward the Owens Lake dry bed.
While most of Owens Lake is without water several small areas have been shallow flooded to prevent dust storms. One such area is the Owens Lake Plover Wing Plaza. Here you can find the largest section of the lake with water, interesting land artworks, marshland, and several miles of trails along the shore.
Set against towering pines and rugged granite peaks, Whitney Portal is located 13 miles west of the quaint town of Lone Pine. The portal serves as the trailhead for the Mount Whitney Trail and the access point for the John Muir Wilderness Area.
Inyo County Mt Whitney Fish Hatchery
Mt Whitney Fish Hatchery is a pleasant stop as you travel along Highway 395. Inside the historic 1916 main building, there are exhibits about the wildlife that lives in the Owens Valley. Outside there is a large pond stocked with rainbow trout. Even though the facility is no longer used as a hatchery by the state it is still worthy of a visit.
Eastern California Museum is a must stop for travelers passing through the Owens Valley along Highway 395. Located in the town of Independence this amazing museum displays historic artifacts and photographs from the Eastern Sierra, Death Valley to Mono Lake.
The unique rock formations and arches of the Alabama Hills make a stunning playground for tourists. The most famous of these arches is a fifteen-minute round trip walk along the Alabama Hills Arch Nature Trail. Enjoy cool rock formations and spectacular mountain views.
At its peak, Manzanar housed over 10,000 men, women, and children in crude barracks-style housing that offered no creature comforts or privacy to speak of. In 1972, Manzanar was designated as a California Historical Landmark and in 1985 was recognized as a National Historic Landmark. To get a sense of the overall size of the camp, be sure to take the 3.2-mile auto tour. Manzanar National Historic Site is ten miles north of Lone Pine, CA.
Located in the “town” of Olancha you will find a wonderful collection of metal artworks. These sculptures are the work of Jael Hoffmann. There are about 20 sculptures scattered across the desert floor. Driving along Highway 395 you may get a glimpse. But we recommend turning off the highway and checking out the Olancha Sculpture Garden close up. The sculptures are located on the west side of US 395 if you are traveling from Southern California. 1.5 miles south of the intersection of 395 and 190. Turn left on Walker Creek Road, right on Old State Highway.
Nothing beats a soak in a natural hot spring and Inyo County has plenty of them. Inyo County’s hot springs range from secluded rock pools to historic resorts. The one thing they all have in common is the hot mineral water that heals the spirit and soothes the body.
Located east of the Sierras, just off US Highway 395 south of Mammoth Lakes. There is plenty to do at Convict Lake, but fishing is probably the most popular activity. The Lake is stocked weekly with rainbow trout, making it an angler’s paradise. Depending on the season, you can explore the trail, and the adjoining trails on foot, horseback, skis, snowshoes or snowmobile.
Established in 1919 by Phillip Keough as a health spa the resort has changed owners several times over the years. The current owners the Brown family of Bishop purchased the property in 1998 and have endeavored to make Keough Hot Spring Resort as popular today as it was in the 1920s and ’30s.
Bishop California is a little town with a large history. It is located in Inyo County and has a population of under 4,000. Originally named Bishop Creek, it is the most populated place in Inyo County. While traveling through Bishop, consider a stop in at Erick Schat’s Bakery. The best bread ever comes from Erick Schat’s Bakery. It’s Dutch style with no preservatives.
At an elevation that ranges between 10,000 and 11,000 feet, the forest boasts incredible views of the Sierra Nevada’. Even more breathtaking are the Bristlecone pines – the oldest trees in the world. For those visitors who would like to learn more about the forest, the Visitor Center is open mid-June until Labor Day.
Laws Railroad Museum is a fascinating place to visit while traveling through the Owens Valley. There are hundreds of railroad and mining artifacts covering the 11-acre historic site. Plan on spending at least a couple of hours exploring the museum and grounds.
Death Valley was given its name by prospectors who crossed the valley on their way to the gold fields. Today this area of California draws visitors from all over the world. Exploring all this national park has to offer will take several days.