Road Trip to the Sierras and Bristlecone Pines

Who doesn’t love a nice long road trip, especially one filled with stunningly crystal clear mountain lakes, spontaneous trips through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest, and adventures through the jaw-dropping beauty of some of Utah’s most famous national parks? I got lucky enough to experience exactly this on a recent road trip from California with my mom.

Our adventure started with a drive up the desert highway of 395 where we stopped in Lone Pine to catch a glimpse of Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  It did not disappoint. A clear, sunny day showed the jagged, W-shaped peak clearly rising above in the background of the other Sierra mountain peaks. We drove down the Whitney Portal Road until we got to the Movie Flats, where numerous movies and TV shows were filmed with the stunning Sierras, including Mt. Whitney, in the background. It was so amazing and truly jaw-dropping to see the beautiful peak of Mt. Whitney and I would love to go back someday and hike to the summit. (Below, photos of the Whitney Portal Road and Mt. Whitney off in the distance).


We continued traveling up 395, through Big Pine, and reached our first overnight destination in Bishop at the cutest hotel, called the Creekside Inn. The Creekside Inn truly does have a creek running through it where you can sit outside on the hotel’s patios and eat or drink in the many comfy chairs and couches alongside fire pits with the creek babbling right at your feet (photos below). I would highly recommend this hotel if you’re planning a trip up to Bishop!


In the morning, we drove to Lake Sabrina (not far from downtown Bishop), parked in the little parking lot (a lot of people come here to fish) and started our hike around the lake. The water was such a crystal clear blue you could see straight to the bottom in some places. The trail was very narrow in some parts but good for beginner to intermediate hikers. We hiked as far as we could around the lake and made it about halfway around before we came to a rock slide which had covered a good portion of the trail and we turned around and hiked back to the parking lot. The view of the Sierras reflecting perfectly in the crystal clear blue water of Lake Sabrina was unlike anything I have ever seen before and I can’t wait to go back! (Photos below).



Above left: the rockslide that covered part of the trail.


It was around late noon when we got back on the road and decided to take a detour down 395 to Big Pine and then off to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest and White Mountain. The Ancient Bristlecone Pines are centuries old – older than the Giant Sequoias I wrote about in one of my previous posts – and so surreal-looking. They look like they are almost not from this world. One might think that these trees were no longer alive since they have no more pinecones or needles on them and are all spindly, twisting branches reaching up towards the sky. But they are alive and well and certainly a sight to behold! (Photos below).


Above right: pinecones on a much younger bristlecone pine.


Below: the view from the White Mountains where the Bristlecone Pines are.

This first part of our road trip was so magical and highly rewarding! If you are looking for a unique place to travel to, I would highly recommend visiting Lake Sabrina or the Ancient Bristlecones! Read on for the second part of our road trip (through Bryce Canyon)!