The City of San Jose in the center of the Santa Clara Valley is a popular one and is home to about two million people. But because it is so large, it sure does not seem like there are that many people there. In some areas of the city, you may look around and think you are one of the only people for miles. In fact, some of the parks are so vast that you may really be the only ones around.
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is one of those parks, and it has 30,000 acres with 15 different habitats including salt marshes and ponds, mudflats, uplands, and vernal pools. These diverse areas are vital to the safety of endangered species such as the salt marsh harvest mouse, western snowy plover, and the mountain beaver. Enjoy some of the trails or toss a line in for some fishing while you are there.
Your trip to Bishop can be done in about six hours, but with this fun road trip stopping at Sacramento, South Lake Tahoe, and Inyo National Forest along the way, it will be several days of awesomeness. Whether you like outdoorsy things like parks and forests or the big city lights and entertainment, this trip will cover it all.
Head north on I-680 to I-80 east for about two hours to get to Sacramento. Although it is smaller and less populated than San Jose, it is actually the capital of California. Not a small town by any means, there are about half a million people living in Sacramento, located at the intersection of the American River and Sacramento River. These two rivers are popular boating and paddling spots in the state so, if you are in the mood, grab a paddle or rent a boat for a leisurely day on the water.
If you would rather enjoy some cultural entertainment, how about a visit to some of the museums in the city. The Crocker Art Museum is one of the oldest museums in the nation and has one of the best public art collections in the US. You can also visit the California Automobile Museum and California State Railroad Museum to see some amazing locomotives and old vehicles. Then there’s the Sacramento History Museum, which is possibly the most impressive, with the history of the area before the Gold Rush.
Another thing Sacramento is known for is its nightlife and cuisine. In fact, many of the eateries in the city have earned the AAA’s Five Diamond dining award and have famous chefs like Biba Caggiano and Mai Pham. From sausage to sushi and tacos to tilapia, you’ll be able to find what you are hungry for in Sacramento. They also have a reputation for their beverages including local beer, wine, and coffee establishments. Grab a coffee and head out to your next stop, South Lake Tahoe.
The first thing to do when you get to South Lake Tahoe is check in at your campsite. There are over a dozen of them within a half-hour of the lake, so you won’t have any trouble finding what you need. Since you are in a campervan, you don’t have to worry about getting a huge campsite but there are plenty of places that can accommodate whatever you drive.
Campground By The Lake is the closest, right on the shoreline, and they have over 150 campsites with utilities, showers, and a big sandy beach. You can make reservations up to a year in advance and they are popular, so book as early as possible. Another good choice is the Tahoe Valley Campground, which has over 400 campsites with utilities, a pool, playground, and much more. Reservations here can be made up to a year in advance too.
Once you get checked in, head to the lake for some swimming, fishing, parasailing, boating, or whatever else you want to do. If you didn’t bring a boat, that’s okay, you can rent one just about anywhere. If you’re hungry, hit up one of the well-known restaurants in South Lake Tahoe like Sicilian pizzerias, Thai cuisine, or one of the many BBQ joints. You can also take a guided tour, go on a cruise, or just enjoy the peace and quiet of the woods by your campsite.
Just a few hours down US-395, the Inyo National Forest has a plethora of fun just waiting for you to get there. The two million-acre forest in the Eastern Sierra Mountains is home to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Mammoth Lakes, Reds Meadow, Mono Lake, and Mount Whitney. Whether you want to do some rock climbing, hiking, biking, or enjoy some water sports, you will find it all here and then some.
If you plan on staying the night, you are in for a treat because the forest has more than two dozen campgrounds to pick from. Some of those close to I-395 include Convict Lake, which has 85 sites; Lake Mary, which has 48 sites; New Shady Rest, which has 92 campsites; and Old Shady Rest, which has 47 sites. You can also try Sherwin Creek’s 85 campsites or Twin Lakes, which has 92 wooded sites. Many of these take reservations while others have first-come, first-served sites as well.
For water lovers, hit the lakes for some fishing, swimming, or boating. Don’t forget the sunscreen though. You want to take home memories from Inyo National Forest, not a sunburn. You can also enjoy over 1,200 miles of trails for hiking and biking. Some of the trails take you into the mountains where you can do some climbing or just enjoy the view. Have a picnic on one of the mountain peaks or work up a sweat on a mountain bike before heading back to the water to cool off.
Now you are only about an hour from your final destination of Bishop, California. But if you are not pressed for time, there is plenty to do and see on the way. You can stay on I-395 the whole way or take a detour to one of the mountains like Wheeler Crest, Mammoth Mountain, Mount Dubois, Red Mountain, or White Mountain Peak. As a visitor to Bishop, you will love seeing the amazing mountain views and various terrains as you head down the highway.
One of the most interesting natural attractions in the area is the Hot Creek Geological Site in Mono County. Although you cannot get into the water, you will be amazed at the geyser eruptions, fumaroles, and other strange geological wonders. The hot magma three miles under the ground causes steam and boiling water to erupt from the creek so don’t get too close. But make sure you get some pictures.
Crowley Lake is another awesome site to visit in Mono County. The 5,300-acre lake is famous for its stellar trout fishing opportunities, waterskiing, and wakeboarding. If you want, you can even camp there. However, you need to book your site early because they only have 15 RV sites, most with full hookups and they are all right on the lake. Whatever your reason for visiting Bishop, don’t forget to enjoy some of the awesome eateries they have all along Main Street. Choose from pizza, seafood, Asian cuisine, burgers, and just about anything else you can think of.