Eastern Sierra

The Eastern Sierra is the remote east side of the Sierra Nevada region of California. The desert-like yearly rainfalls compete with small streams draining down from the snow-covered mountains to create a barren land with regions of verdant green.

The largest industry in the Eastern Sierra is tourism. Lodging and campsites are plentiful. Activities that appeal to the traveler are various and plentiful.



Other destinations

Bodie State Historic Park


The Sierra Nevada mountain range, like most ranges in the lower-48 states, runs north to south. Approaching the Sierra Nevada from the west is a very gradual process of small hills leading to larger hills, leading to small mountains, and so on. The east is a sheer cliff in comparison. At 4000 feet of elevation near Lone Pine, one can look straight up to the 14,505 ft (4,421 m) snow-capped top of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the United States outside Alaska.

This extreme change in elevation explains why there are no roads across the Sierra between Kernville and Mono Lake. In winter all but one of the passes are closed, and there are no crossings between Kernville and Lake Tahoe.

The Eastern Sierra receives very little rainfall because it lies in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada. Since weather systems generally approach the Eastern Sierra from the west or southwest, they dump most of their moisture onto the western flanks of the Sierra Nevada, leaving only a small amount for the Eastern Sierra.

The Eastern Sierra is part of the Great Basin. Water that falls in the Great Basin does not flow naturally into an ocean. Instead, water flows into various inland lakes such as Mono Lake and Walker Lake.

Large amounts of water are captured at the surface or pumped from the ground, and diverted to Los Angeles.

Get in

Get around

US 395 runs from north to south through the entire Eastern Sierra.

Some of the passes on US 395 require snow chains during or shortly after snowstorms in the winter. Since you can't predict mountain weather, plan on carrying chains if you travel north of Bishop during the winter.


Mono Lake


Stay safe

In winter, the higher elevations north of Bishop are subject to mountain storms. Be prepared with snow chains for cars, or even road closures.

In summer, the lower elevations in Bishop and further south can be quite hot. Stay hydrated, and you'll avoid headaches (from dehydration) or worse.

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