DescriptionInyo National Forest parallels US 6 and US 395 for 165 miles between the eastern California towns of Inyokern and Lee Vining. The forest contains Mount Whitney—at 14,505 feet, the highest point in the contiguous United States—as well as portions of the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail. Inyo National Forest shares in managing nine wilderness areas, including the Ansel Adams and John Muir wildernesses. Between US 6 and the Nevada border, the White Mountains rise to 14,246 feet and hold the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, with the oldest living trees on the planet; the Bristlecone visitor center is open to the public from mid-June through late October (weather permitting). Most of the Sierra's highest peaks are visible to the west from US 395.
Vehicle travel is restricted in Devils Postpile National Monument and the Reds Meadow area of the forest: Only vehicles with camping or disabled parking permits, and a few other exceptions, are allowed beyond the Minaret Vista turnoff between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., mid-June through Sept. 30. All others are required to use a shuttle bus that operates during the restricted times.
The 2-hour round-trip makes 10 stops, including the Devils Postpile ranger station, where trails lead to recreation areas. Shuttles, which operate mid-June to mid-September, depart the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center every 20-30 minutes beginning at 7 a.m. The last return shuttle departs Reds Meadow at 7:45 p.m. A shuttle day pass is $7; $4 (ages 3-15). A shuttle 3-day pass is $14; $8 (ages 3-15). Phone (760) 872-1901. The daily entrance fee for vehicles is $10 per private vehicle or $20 for a 3-day pass. Permits are required for overnight access to the Ansel Adams and John Muir wildernesses.
Mammoth and June mountains have ski areas that are popular in winter, while mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing and backpacking are the main summertime diversions. Gondola rides to the top of Mammoth Mountain provide outstanding views and access to hiking and mountain biking trails. Rides are available daily 9-3:30, mid-June through late Sept. (weather and wind permitting). Fare $25; $20 (ages 13-22 and 65-79); $12 (ages 5-12); free (up to two children ages 5-12 per paying adult and ages 80+). Phone (760) 934-2571 or (800) 626-6684.
Minaret Vista, at 9,175 feet, offers a sweeping view of the Ritter Range. A store and café, as well as saddle and pack horses, are available at Reds Meadow. An interagency welcome center on Main Street in Mammoth Lakes is open year-round; closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Phone (760) 924-5500.
Roads throughout the remainder of the forest provide scenic drives. The Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center is south of Lone Pine at the junction of US 395 and SR 136. Phone (760) 876-6222 or TTY (760) 876-6228.
For additional information contact the Superintendent, Inyo National Forest, 351 Pacu Ln., Suite 200, Bishop, CA 93514; phone (760) 873-2400 or TTY (760) 873-2538. For wilderness information phone (760) 873-2483. Campground and wilderness permit reservations can be obtained online through www.recreation.gov.
Things to SeeBishop Creek Canyon