June Lake Loop is a 16-mile stretch of Route 158 that wraps around four picturesque lakes located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Mono Basin’s southernmost rim. Much like the nearby Mammoth Lakes, the June Lake Loop is home to incredibly gorgeous vistas and countless opportunities for outdoor activity.
From skiing during the winter at June Mountain to fishing in the lakes during the summer, the June Lake Loop has plenty to offer the nature enthusiast.
June Lake is considered a more low-key option for summer and winter outdoor fun, a place that has held onto its small-town charm while still offering world-class outdoor excitement. June Lake has the largest town with quaint shops, restaurants, lodges, and taverns.
The lake itself has two marinas where fishermen and women can rent a boat or launch their own. Other popular options for enjoying the lake are sailing and swimming.
Gull Lake has the best campgrounds in the area and is the favorite of fishermen. Although there is a good population of crayfish and Sacramento perch, the abundance of large trout consistently pulled from its waters is the true attraction.
Silver Lake is the most attractive of the lakes to hikers interested in exploring the backcountry. The Rush Creek Trailhead is located to the north of the lake and leads to the Rush Creek Basin, Yosemite National Park, and the Ansel Adams Wilderness. It also connects to the Pacific Crest Trail system and the John Muir Trail.
As an alternative to exploring the area on foot, the Frontier Pack Station located next to the trailhead offers one-day and multi-day horseback riding excursions.
Although the only facilities on Grant Lake are the marina and campground, it is the largest lake on the loop. Visitors to the lake will find that it is not only a great morning fishing spot; it is also the best of the lakes for water skiing, jet skiing, and wakeboarding.
For those who aren’t interested in camping, Grant Lake is easily accessible from the wealth of accommodations at June Lake and Lee Vining.
If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, climbing is also popular for visitors to the June Lake Loop. The North Face of Carson Peak and East Face of Banner Peak offer advanced climbing opportunities.
The North Face of Mt Ritter features less demanding climbs. During the winter, June Mountain offers great snow conditions, seven chairlifts, a 2,500 foot vertical and excellent backcountry skiing and snowboarding that will keep the entire family entertained and challenged.
It may not be as big a mountain as nearby Mammoth Mountain, but it is a nice low-key family-friendly alternative. It also has plenty of opportunities for Nordic skiing and snowmobiling.
June Lake Loop History
During the late 19th-century gold rush, the June Lake Loop was largely ignored – seen merely as a recreational area with no access roads. When the interest in gold declined, however, interest in hydroelectric energy increased.
The early decades of the 20th century saw the building of two dams, the Rush Creek Power House, a roadway connecting to US 395 and numerous private resorts.
Once the roads and resorts were built, the June Lake Loop became a popular vacation spot for those visiting Yosemite National Park or just interested in enjoying the many outdoor activities available on and around the lakes. Famous faces among the early vacationers included Clark Gable, Frank Capra, Betty Grable, and Charlie Chaplin.
Through the mid-1900s, the June Lake Loop community swelled with the construction of water aqueducts, new hydroelectric plants, and a ski resort. With the development and continued popularity of nearby Mammoth Lakes in the late 1900s, however, the June Lake Loop’s heyday ended.
Where is June Lake Loop
From northern California, take Interstate 80 E or US 50 E towards Reno. Then turn onto US 395 S and drive for about 150 miles. The June Lake Loop is along Route 158 off of US 395. The drive from the Bay Area is about six hours long.
To reach the June Lake Loop from the Los Angeles area, take I-5 at Sylmar to Route 14 N. At Inyokern, turn off onto 395 N. The trip should take five to six hours. Campground Reservations: