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Sierra Nevada Small Towns

Small Towns Overview

High Sierra

The Sierra Nevada has a wide variety of interesting small towns. The Sierras are comprised of Alpine lakes, dense pine forests, Giant Sequoias and a multitude of outdoor recreation. Popular destinations in the Sierra Nevada include Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Lakes, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Many of the small towns are remnants of original silver and gold mining operations. Visit the gold mining Bodie ghost town outside of Bridgeport. Climb Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. Enjoy one of the best sandwiches on Earth at Schatz Bakkerÿ in Bishop. From historic mining towns to lakeside resorts, you'll find all of the cool small towns in the High Sierras listed on this page.

Sierra Nevada Small Towns

Truckee, CA

Truckee is located off Highway 80 between Reno and Sacramento, at the Donner Pass. Originally, Truckee was the covered wagon pass for emigrants heading to California. The covered wagon trails were later covered with train tracks, which gives Truckee its train town feel today. A thin strip of turn of the century homes and businesses contain cafés, boutique shops and arts & crafts stores that are positioned directly across from busy train tracks. Situated at nearly 6,000 feet in elevation and within 20 miles of Lake Tahoe, the small town of Truckee is centrally located to a multitude of outdoor recreation, historic sites, beautiful lakes and gambling casinos. Step into the Old Jail Museum where notorious villains like Baby Face Nelson and Machine Gun Kelly were once held. Visit Donner Memorial State Park for a glimpse at the hardships that befell early pioneers. Enjoy boating and fishing on beautiful Donner Lake. Play in the snow at several nearby ski resorts including Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Royal Gorge and more. Try your luck at several nearby casinos on the border at Boomtown or the shores of Lake Tahoe. Head south and find an endless supply of things to do and places to see at Lake Tahoe. Other Truckee activities include mountain biking, hiking, snowmobiling, snow skiing and off-roading.

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Markleeville is located off Highway 89 between South Lake Tahoe and Bridgeport. This small town has very few buildings other than a general store, gas station, lodge and restaurant & bar. Markleeville has a rich history in silver mining which is documented at the Alpine County Museum in town. The nearby Grover Hot Springs State Park offers campgrounds and large thermal hot springs corralled into pools. Head for the Nevada border on Highway 89 to Topaz Lake for gambling, entertainment and fishing. Markleeville is situated along side the beautiful Carson River. Local activities include kayaking, whitewater rafting, trout fishing, hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

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Welcome to Bridgeport

Bridgeport is located off Highway 395 just south of the Nevada border. Bridgeport is situated in a high altitude meadow used for farming. This small town is THE place if you are a fisherman. Twin Lakes is just over 10 miles out of town and holds the record for the largest brown trout in California. If you're a fly fishing purest, the backcountry Virginia Lakes are perfect for catching wild browns, brooks and rainbows. The larger Bridgeport Reservoir offers boating and water activities. Camping is available at several lakes and along the immensely picturesque Walker River to the north of Bridgeport. Soak in natural hot springs north along the Walker River or just outside of town. Even if you're just passing through, stop by the Bridgeport Inn for a meal, cup of coffee and some excellent, small-town hospitality. Nearby attractions include Mono Lake, Bodie Ghost Town and gambling just over the Nevada border at Topaz Lake

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Lee Vining is located off Highways 395 and 120 between Mammoth Mountain and Yosemite. The small town of Lee Vining is the gateway to Yosemite backcountry. Head up Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) to the Tuolumne Meadows region of Yosemite National Park. Visit the Old Schoolhouse Museum that also features old farm equipment and the 'Upside-Down House'. For some of the best gourmet food around, head for the Tioga Pass Gas Mart (Yes... a gas station) where Whoa Nellie Deli serves fish tacos, lobster taquitos, wild buffalo meatloaf and other unique offerings. On hot summer days, there's always a line a Mono Cone for there soft-serve ice cream. Nearby attractions include Mono Lake and Bodie Ghost Town.

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Silver Lake

June Lake is located off Highways 395 and 158 between Mammoth Mountain and Lee Vining. The smaller June Lake Ski Resort is a great alternative to the massive Mammoth Ski Resort. Don't blink as you go through the small town of June Lake or you might miss it. June offers quaint country cabins or luxury cabins like the Double Eagle Resort. Several lakes are encompassed by the June Lake Loop and are all great for camping, fishing and swimming. Boat rentals are available at all four lakes. Several hiking options lead to high-alpine lakes and meadows. Fishing, hiking, horseback riding and snow skiing & boarding are the popular activities at June Lake.

TIP: Half of the June Lake Loop is closed in winter.

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Rainbow Falls

Mammoth Lakes is located off Highway 395 between June Lake and Bishop. Mammoth is an outdoor enthusiast's dream come true. Far from being a small town, activities at Mammoth include horseback riding, golfing, fishing, camping, off-roading, hiking, backpacking, boating, snow skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and mountain biking. The focal point is the Mammoth Ski Resort which offers downhill skiing in winter and downhill mountain biking in summer. Mammoth also features several lakes that are teaming with rainbow trout. Boat rentals are available at several of the lakes. Camping is available along side lakes and the surrounding Mammoth region. You'll find the ball will fly farther at one of Mammoth's high-altitude golf courses. Backcountry hikes head to beautiful and unique places like Rainbow Falls and Devils Postpile. Mammoth Mountain is actually an active volcano and evidence of this is found all over the region with sites like Obsidian Dome, Inyo Craters and Hot Creek hot springs. Nearby points of interest include the Hot Creek Fish Hatchery, Convict Lake, Bodie Ghost Town, June Lake Loop, Mono Lake and Yosemite National Park. The town of Mammoth Lakes is a large mix of restaurants, condos, cabins, resorts and hotels that support the hoards of skiers that descend on Mammoth Mountain during the winter. Summer offers a bit more elbow room with plenty of sites to discover and explore. There is so much to see and do in Mammoth that we've dedicated an entire page to Mammoth Lakes.

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Meadow Farms Country Smokehouse

Bishop is located off Highway 395 between Mammoth Mountain and Big Pine. Situated in the high desert at the base of the tallest Sierra Nevada peaks, Bishop maintains a small town country charm. Fishing, camping and backpacking are the main attractions. Bishop fishing and camping are excellent all along Bishop Creek. For the purist, several outfitters offer back country expeditions for fishing, camping or just the enjoyment of the Sierras. Schatz Bakkerÿ is a popular destination for fresh baked breads, sandwiches and pastries. Try your luck at the Paiute Palace Casino on the north end of town. Nearby attractions include the Manzanar WWII internment camp and Mammoth Mountain.

TIP: Bishop has the best beef jerky place around. Just watch for Meadow Farms Country Smokehouse off Interstate 395 in the northern portion of town. It's a little expensive but worth it! We provided a picture of the place to help you find it.

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Mt.Whitney and Alabama Hills

Lone Pine is located off Highway 395 south of Independence and Bishop. The small town of Lone Pine is the gateway to Mt.Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 states at over 14,000 feet. Climbers from around the world come to climb the peak. At the base of Mt. Whitney are the Alabama Hills where multiple Westerns were filmed. This picturesque rockscape offers sightseeing, hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding and more. Movie stars and celebrities have carved and autographed their names on the wood panel walls and door jambs at the Indian Trading Post in town. The Mt.Whitney Fish Hatchery was built in 1916 to resemble a European country estate. This was the first trout hatchery in the Eastern Sierras. Ghost towns throughout the region are reminders of Lone Pine's boom time. Remnants of mining towns like Cerro Gordo, Keeler and Darwin still remain. A little farther up Interstate 395 is Manzanar, the site of a Japanese WWII Internment Camp. Thousands of Japanese-Americans were uprooted from their homes and placed in these camps until the end of the war. Lone Pine is the western gateway to Death Valley, North America's lowest point below sea level.

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Bass Lake is located off Highway 41 between Yosemite National Park and Fresno. The small town of Bass Lake features a large Alpine lake with a lakeside resort, campgrounds, boating, fishing, swimming and water-skiing. The Pines Resort at Bass Lake is a lakeside resort that offers accommodations, a restaurant, bar & grill, spa, marina and much more. The Pines Bar often has live entertainment and holiday celebrations. Bass Lake has many interesting nearby attractions. Head a short distance north to Yosemite National Park, California's crown jewel of natural wonders. Hop on the Yosemite Mountain Sugarpine Railroad for a train ride through the lush sequoia trees. Perfect your game at the Wawona Golf Course in Yosemite. Enjoy a local play at the Golden Chain Theatre in Oakhurst. Walk amongst the oldest and tallest living things on Earth at Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

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