Day Trip, Mammoth Lakes
Tom's Place is located in an area known as Crowley Lake, south of Mammoth Lakes. Since VT does not have a Crowley Lake page, I'm putting the tip here. Tom's "resort" is a popular stopping place for hikers, climbers and fisherman visiting the Rock Creek and Sierra Nevada area. Tom's has an interesting history dating back to the early 1900's, which you can read about on its website. From the beginning, it has been a stopping point for travelers along the 395 corridor- first as a gas station and later as a lodge and restaurant.
The Tom's Place of today has rustic cabins and dorms for lodging, but book well in advance as they are constantly sold out during the summer. Tom's also has a restaurant and bar with an outdoor patio for fueling of the human variety before or after your daily activities. The grocery store is well stocked in case you forgot anything or need supplies for a picnic lunch
From Tom's Place, it is about 9 miles to the Mosquito Flats trailhead, the gateway to some of the best hikes and scrambles of the Sierras. We didn't stay here, but stopped in for an early morning breakfast and later on for dinner after a day in the mountains. Tom's has the best burgers in Inyo County, or so the website says. They were pretty good actually. Saturday night is the prime rib dinner special, which lasts until all the prime rib is gone, and it does sell out at this popular place.
Driving north from Bishop along 395, you'll find the sign for Tom's place about 20 minutes after leaving the town. Its about a half hour from Mammoth Lakes as well.
The route through the pass follows generally the path of California Highway 120 along the north ridge of Yosemite Valley, thus making it also the most spectacularly scenic route in and out of California. We made several quick stops to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the complete silence!
Especially the stop at Tiogo Lake was definately worth while. We also learned that there are no roads or trails one can ascend to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains for the entire 240-kilometers distance.
Like the Sonora Pass, the Tiogo Pass is one of the few trans-Sierra crossings not named for an individual. "Tioga" is actually a term used by the Mohawk Tribe. It means litterly "where it forks". The Tioga Pass is located at 3300 meters elevations, making it the highest of the trans-Sierra passages. It is about 9 kilomters east of Tuolumne Meadows.
The route through the pass follows generally the path of California Highway 120 along the north ridge of Yosemite Valley, thus making it also the most spectacularly scenic route in and out of California.
Mono Lake is almost a million years old and lies 2700 meters above sea level. Looking over Mono Lake offers a very impressive sight. Before the 2nd World War it must have been even more impressive, because at that time the lake used to be 7 times as large as it is today. The city of Los Angeles used the lake to provide the city of drinking water. You're now able to see a lot of bizar tuff which became visible when the water level dropped.
Because of less supply of glacier water the salt level is 7 times as high as the Dead Sea. You're able to see this history and it's future threats at the Mono Lake Visitors Center at Lee Vining.