Roadtripping in California may be one of a person’s greatest joys. You can take the coast, drive the mountains, or stay in the desert. It’s a pick-your-adventure type of occasion. For this, I chose an Eastern Sierras road trip as I was summiting Mt. Whitney. For those who don’t know, driving the CA-395 has some of the best views in the nation. Keep reading for what to see on a California road trip.
What to see on a California Roadtrip
Below Whitney are Alabama Hills and Mobius Arch. This is a cool spot to check out as you’re driving up the Eastern Sierras and 395 in California. The area doesn’t require much hiking for those wanting a quick stop.
Visiting Hot Creek
Once I left Lone Pine, I headed north to Mammoth to check out an excellent spot called Hot Creek. This is a geothermal zone that has 200-degree, light blue water bubbling to the surface and then entering into a stream. For obvious safety reasons, you can’t swim here. Hanging out was an excellent way to break up the drive north. After that, I hopped back in the car and headed to Yosemite NP.
Back into Yosemite
The goal for that evening was to photograph the sunset from Tunnel View. It had been on my bucket list for a long time, but I never had the opportunity to do it. That night I checked it off my list.
When I arrived, I realized I was not the only one who wanted to do this. There were TONS of people. I somehow landed a place in front (having a tripod helps and makes you look official). For anyone doing a California road trip, this is a must!
After a while of getting the same scenery in as many different shots as possible, I headed back down into the valley as I wanted some sunset ones near Yosemite Falls. Bad. Idea. Alec.
The traffic was terrible, so I pulled over and got to Yosemite Falls, but from a distance. I also had a chance to call the parents while the traffic died down and light ceded to darkness across the valley. Once I could drive, I headed to Yosemite Lodge (Ahwanhee) and grabbed a beer. It was very deserved after the trip I had had so far.
Sunrise at Tunnel View
The following day, I was up around 5 am and headed back to Tunnel View to catch the sunrise. This is also something I’ve always wanted to do. (If you can’t tell, this trip was about shrinking a photography to-do list.) The stoke factor was WAY high here as I watched the sun gradually creep up over the mountains and light the valley floor below.
With sunrise out of the way, I headed towards my adventure for the day: Eagle Peak.
(Pause for you all to click and read it.)
*4 minutes later*
The next spot on my list to see was Glacier Point. I’ve been here before but not for sunset. So I bode goodbye to the valley floor and headed up to Glacier Point. Unfortunately, the National Park rangers diverted me to a parking lot before I could get far. There had been a car accident on the two-lane road, and one of the cars had flipped. We could wait here or turn around. I had nothing else to do, so I pulled into the line of cars, turned off my engine, pulled out my camping chair, and caught up on my Outside and Backpacker Magazines.
It was a beautiful day to be outside, and I wasn’t complaining (PS, the rangers said no one was hurt in the accident).
After about 45 minutes, the crash site was cleaned up, and they let us continue up the road. Luckily, I had left the valley early, so the sun wasn’t anywhere near setting once I arrived.
Sunset from Glacier Point
At first, it was a mediocre sunset. The sky wasn’t doing much, and people started to drift away. I knew magic could and would happen. We just had to wait for it. About 20 minutes after the sunset, magic ensued. It was stunning (keep scrolling).
I then began my way back to hot, hot Phoenix. It was an amazing California road trip that allowed me to see so many incredible places.
I knew going into Whitney I could do it, but doing it proved to me that cancer had lost. It was no longer going to influence how I lived my adventure life. I also needed to get away from the valley. This trip was what I needed to break away and bookend a difficult time.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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