Leaving Death Valley National Park this morning has its ups and downs … Starting at Stovepipe Wells at sea level the up comes first, as Hwy 190 West climbs to Towne Pass at 4,956 ft elevation, just to drop back down at a 9% grade to about 2,000 ft. Then? Back up again to well over 4,000 ft with a soft descent into the Eastern Sierra – Owens River valley at 3,700 ft above sea level!
After getting gas (yup, the tank was pretty empty after we refused to filled up for almost $6 a gallon in the park), we head north on Hwy 395, enjoying the views of the Sierra mountains on our left. Lunch is served trailer-side at a rest area near Independence, CA before we continue on through Big Pine (the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest will have to wait until next time), Bishop and Mammoth.
Soon we get to the Mono Basin, where we take a detour to stop at the South Tufa Area at Mono Lake. This salty-alkaline lake shows off the tufa (where fresh water springs have built up towers and other formations from the surrounding salty material) at about 6,500 ft elevation. We stroll to the water’s edge (Kirk tastes it to confirm its salty bitterness), and enjoy the sunshine and the views.
Then we head into Lee Vining, CA, a small town at Mono Lake, where we decide to stay for the night. This will be our last night camping on this trip, so we want to enjoy full hook ups once more! The Mono Vista RV Park is just the place for that and after enjoying dinner at Bodie Mike’s (It’s as good as gold!), we just relax!