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The Perfect California Hwy 395 Road Trip Itinerary


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Ellette Hetzel



Embarking on a road trip is one of the most exciting and liberating ways to explore the wonders of the open road. If you’re seeking a picturesque and unforgettable journey, look no further than the iconic Highway 395 in California. Stretching along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, this scenic highway offers breathtaking views, charming towns, and a myriad of outdoor adventures. From bustling cities to tranquil lakes, the Highway 395 road trip is a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural attractions.


Spanning over 500 miles, the Highway 395 road trip is best experienced over the course of several days. This itinerary will guide you through nine days of exploration, taking you from the vibrant city of Los Angeles to the stunning landscapes of Lone Pine, Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Lee Vining, Bridgeport, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, and finally, San Francisco.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or food lover, the Highway 395 road trip has something for everyone. Get ready to witness towering mountains, sparkling lakes, charming small towns, and the allure of the California wilderness. So, fasten your seatbelts, roll down the windows, and let the adventure begin!


Day 1: Los Angeles to Lone Pine

Your Highway 395 road trip begins in the bustling city of Los Angeles. After an early start, hit the road and head north on Interstate 5 before merging onto Highway 14. As you leave the urban sprawl behind, you’ll be welcomed by the natural beauty of the Mojave Desert.


Continue on Highway 14 until you reach the small town of Mojave, where you can take a quick break and stretch your legs. From there, merge onto Highway 395 and get ready for the breathtaking scenery that awaits.


As you drive further north, you’ll soon reach the charming town of Lone Pine. Nestled at the base of the towering Sierra Nevada mountains, Lone Pine offers stunning views and an array of outdoor activities. Take some time to explore the Alabama Hills, famous for its unique rock formations and picturesque landscapes. This area has been a popular filming location for countless movies and TV shows.


For movie buffs, a visit to the Museum of Western Film History is a must. Discover the rich cinematic history of the region and see artifacts from classic Western films. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider taking a scenic hike in the nearby Mount Whitney area. Marvel at the majestic peaks and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.


As the sun sets, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the local eateries in Lone Pine. Indulge in classic American comfort food or savor the flavors of authentic Mexican cuisine.


After a day full of exploration, find a cozy accommodation in Lone Pine and get some rest. You’ll need your energy for the exciting days ahead on your Highway 395 road trip!


Day 2: Lone Pine to Bishop

On day 2 of your Highway 395 road trip, bid farewell to Lone Pine and continue north towards the charming town of Bishop. As you drive along Highway 395, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the expansive Owens Valley.


Make a stop at the Manzanar National Historic Site, just outside of Independence. This site bears witness to a dark chapter in American history, as it was once an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. Take a self-guided tour and learn about the experiences of those who were held captive here.


Continue your journey north and arrive in Bishop, a vibrant town known for its outdoor recreation, quaint shops, and stunning beauty. Spend the afternoon exploring the charming downtown area, filled with art galleries, boutique stores, and local eateries.


If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’re in for a treat in Bishop. The area is renowned for its fishing opportunities, with the nearby Owens River offering prime spots for trout fishing. You can also rent a kayak or paddleboard and enjoy a leisurely float on nearby lakes such as South Lake or Sabrina Lake.


No trip to Bishop is complete without a visit to the world-famous Buttermilks bouldering area. Whether you’re an experienced climber or a beginner, this unique spot offers a variety of bouldering routes suitable for all skill levels. Test your strength and agility as you navigate the granite boulders amidst the stunning backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains.


After a day of outdoor adventures, treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of Bishop’s local restaurants. From farm-to-table fare to hearty comfort food, there’s something to satisfy every craving.


Find a cozy accommodation in Bishop and rest up for another exciting day of your Highway 395 road trip, as you continue to explore the wonders of California’s eastern Sierra region.


Day 3: Bishop to Mammoth Lakes

As you embark on day 3 of your Highway 395 road trip, leave Bishop behind and make your way to the beautiful mountain town of Mammoth Lakes. The scenic drive from Bishop to Mammoth Lakes offers breathtaking views of the Eastern Sierra landscape and the towering peaks that surround the area.


Arriving in Mammoth Lakes, you’ll be greeted by the stunning natural beauty and endless outdoor recreational opportunities. Start your day with a visit to the Mammoth Lakes Basin, where you can explore the crystal-clear lakes nestled amongst the towering pine trees. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or fishing boat and spend a peaceful morning on the serene waters.


If you’re an avid hiker, Mammoth Lakes offers an abundance of trails to discover. One popular option is the Devils Postpile National Monument, where you can witness the unique hexagonal basalt columns formed by ancient volcanic activity. Take a leisurely hike to Rainbow Falls and soak in the beauty of the cascading waterfall.


For adrenaline seekers, Mammoth Mountain is the perfect playground. Take a scenic gondola ride to the summit and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. During the summer months, you can embark on thrilling mountain biking adventures or explore the network of hiking trails.


After a day of outdoor exploration, unwind and relax in the village center of Mammoth Lakes. Indulge in a delicious meal at one of the local restaurants, ranging from upscale dining to casual eateries. You can also explore the shops and boutiques for unique souvenirs and locally made crafts.


Wrap up your day by finding a cozy accommodation in Mammoth Lakes. Whether you choose a rustic lodge or a modern hotel, you’ll enjoy a comfortable night’s rest as you prepare for the next leg of your Highway 395 road trip.


Day 4: Mammoth Lakes to Lee Vining

On day 4 of your Highway 395 road trip, bid farewell to the enchanting town of Mammoth Lakes and continue north towards the picturesque town of Lee Vining. The drive from Mammoth Lakes to Lee Vining is a scenic journey that takes you through jaw-dropping landscapes and iconic landmarks.


As you leave Mammoth Lakes, make a stop at the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. This unique natural wonder features towering limestone towers, known as tufa, rising from the saline waters. Marvel at the surreal beauty of the lake and take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline.


Continue your journey north and arrive in Lee Vining, a charming town located near the eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park. Take some time to explore the town’s quaint shops and cafes, or grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants.


If you’re a nature enthusiast, a visit to nearby Tioga Pass is a must. This scenic mountain pass is the highest highway pass in California and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Take a hike in the area or simply enjoy the stunning vistas from the comfort of your car.


For those interested in geology and history, a stop at the Bodie State Historic Park is highly recommended. This well-preserved ghost town provides a glimpse into the gold rush era, with over 100 buildings that transport you back in time.


As the day comes to a close, find a cozy accommodation in Lee Vining and prepare for another day of adventure on your Highway 395 road trip. Whether you choose a rustic cabin or a charming bed and breakfast, you’ll enjoy a comfortable stay amidst the natural beauty of the Eastern Sierra region.


Day 5: Lee Vining to Bridgeport

As your Highway 395 road trip continues, leave the cozy town of Lee Vining behind and make your way towards the charming town of Bridgeport. The drive from Lee Vining to Bridgeport is a scenic journey that takes you through breathtaking landscapes and offers endless opportunities for outdoor exploration.


One of the highlights of this leg of the trip is a visit to the iconic Mono Lake. This saline lake is known for its unique mix of tufa towers and vibrant birdlife. Take a stroll along the lake’s edge and appreciate the tranquility and natural beauty that surrounds you.


Continue north on Highway 395 and make a stop at the historic town of Bodie, a well-preserved ghost town that offers a glimpse into the Gold Rush era. Explore the deserted streets, visit the old buildings, and imagine what life was like in this once-thriving mining town.


As you continue your journey, you’ll arrive in Bridgeport, a picturesque town nestled in the shadow of the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains. Spend some time exploring the town’s charming Main Street, lined with quaint shops and local eateries.


Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of activities to enjoy in the Bridgeport area. Consider taking a scenic hike in the nearby Hoover Wilderness, where you can marvel at pristine alpine lakes and panoramic mountain views. Alternatively, you can try your luck at fishing in the East Walker River, known for its abundance of trout.


After a day of outdoor adventure, unwind and savor a delicious meal at one of Bridgeport’s local restaurants. Indulge in fresh seafood, hearty steaks, or locally sourced ingredients that showcase the flavors of the region.


Find a comfortable accommodation in Bridgeport and rest up for another exciting day on your Highway 395 road trip. The natural beauty and outdoor activities of the Eastern Sierra region await you as you continue your journey northward.


Day 6: Bridgeport to Reno

On day 6 of your Highway 395 road trip, bid farewell to the charming town of Bridgeport and continue north towards the vibrant city of Reno. The drive from Bridgeport to Reno is a scenic adventure, filled with stunning mountain views and exciting stops along the way.


As you drive north on Highway 395, make a stop at the historic town of Virginia City. Step back in time as you wander through the streets lined with old saloons, shops, and Victorian-era buildings. Learn about the town’s rich mining history and take a ride on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad for a nostalgic experience.


Continue your journey towards Reno, known as “The Biggest Little City in the World”. This bustling city is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, exciting casinos, and lively entertainment scene.


Once you arrive in Reno, take some time to explore the city’s downtown area. Visit the National Automobile Museum, home to a vast collection of classic and vintage cars. Stroll along the Riverwalk District, where you can enjoy scenic views of the Truckee River and discover boutique shops and art galleries.


Reno also offers a plethora of dining options to satisfy any craving. From upscale steak houses to trendy bistros and classic diners, you’ll find a variety of cuisines to indulge in.


If you’re feeling lucky, try your hand at one of Reno’s famous casinos. Whether you prefer slot machines, poker tables, or live entertainment shows, the city’s casinos provide endless entertainment options.


After a thrilling day in Reno, find a comfortable accommodation and recharge for the next leg of your Highway 395 road trip. The city’s energetic atmosphere and captivating attractions will leave you with unforgettable memories.


Day 7: Reno to Lake Tahoe

As your Highway 395 road trip continues, leave the lights and excitement of Reno behind and make your way to the breathtaking shores of Lake Tahoe. The drive from Reno to Lake Tahoe is a scenic journey that takes you through picturesque landscapes and offers opportunities for outdoor adventure.


After leaving Reno, head west towards the stunning Lake Tahoe. As you approach the lake, the towering Sierra Nevada mountains and crystal-clear waters come into view, creating a picturesque setting that will take your breath away.


Arriving at Lake Tahoe, you’ll be greeted by the pristine beauty and endless recreational opportunities that this alpine lake has to offer. Start your day by exploring the charming town of South Lake Tahoe, home to cozy cabins, unique boutiques, and a variety of restaurants.


For outdoor enthusiasts, Lake Tahoe is a paradise. Spend your day hiking along the scenic trails that surround the lake, taking in panoramic views of the azure waters and surrounding mountains. If you’re a water lover, rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the calm and clear waters of the lake.


Alternatively, relax on one of Lake Tahoe’s sandy beaches and soak up the sun, or treat yourself to a leisurely boat cruise to fully appreciate the beauty of the lake from a different perspective.


In the evening, indulge in delicious cuisine at one of the lakefront restaurants, offering fresh seafood and locally inspired dishes. As the sun sets, the vibrant nightlife of Lake Tahoe comes alive with an array of bars, casinos, and live entertainment options.


Find a comfortable accommodation along the shores of Lake Tahoe and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of this alpine paradise. Tomorrow, you’ll continue your Highway 395 road trip, but for now, relax and savor the serenity of Lake Tahoe.


Day 8: Lake Tahoe to Sacramento

On day 8 of your Highway 395 road trip, it’s time to bid farewell to the stunning beauty of Lake Tahoe and head towards the vibrant city of Sacramento. As you leave Lake Tahoe behind, you’ll embark on a scenic drive that takes you through picturesque landscapes and charming towns.


Leaving Lake Tahoe, make your way down Highway 50, known as the “Loneliest Road in America” due to its long stretches of empty highway. As you drive through the Sierra Nevada foothills, you’ll witness breathtaking vistas of rolling hills, quaint towns, and golden meadows.


Make a stop in the historic town of Placerville, also known as “Old Hangtown.” Explore Main Street, filled with charming shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Take a walk through the historic district to discover the town’s rich Gold Rush history.


Continuing on your journey, arrive in Sacramento, the capital city of California. Known for its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant culinary scene, Sacramento offers a fascinating blend of old-world charm and modern attractions.


Start your exploration of Sacramento with a visit to the captivating Old Sacramento Historic District. Stroll along the wooden boardwalks and explore the well-preserved buildings from the Gold Rush era. Learn about the city’s history at the California State Railroad Museum or enjoy a scenic riverboat cruise along the Sacramento River.


In the evening, savor the flavors of Sacramento’s diverse culinary scene. From farm-to-fork restaurants serving locally sourced ingredients to international cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate.


After a day of exploring the city, find a comfortable accommodation in Sacramento and rest up for the final leg of your Highway 395 road trip. Tomorrow, you’ll make your way to the vibrant city of San Francisco, where you’ll conclude your adventure with memories to last a lifetime.


Day 9: Sacramento to San Francisco

On the final day of your Highway 395 road trip, bid farewell to Sacramento and make your way to the iconic city of San Francisco. The drive from Sacramento to San Francisco offers a mix of urban and scenic beauty, as you journey from the state capital to one of the most iconic cities in the world.


Leaving Sacramento, head west on Interstate 80 towards San Francisco. As you approach the Bay Area, keep an eye out for stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and its iconic bridges.


Once you arrive in San Francisco, there’s so much to explore and experience. Start by visiting the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, an engineering marvel that offers breathtaking views of the city and the bay. Take a leisurely walk or rent a bike to fully appreciate this world-famous landmark.


Continue your exploration by visiting the vibrant neighborhoods of San Francisco. Discover the eclectic shops and restaurants in Haight-Ashbury, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Chinatown, or take a ride on the famous cable cars in the bustling Union Square.


No visit to San Francisco is complete without a trip to Alcatraz Island. Take a ferry ride to the island and explore the infamous former prison. Learn about the captivating history of Alcatraz through audio tours and discover the stories of some of its most notorious inmates.


Indulge in the vibrant food scene of San Francisco, with its countless culinary delights. From fresh seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf to the famous Mission-style burritos in the Mission District, there’s something for every palate.


As the sun sets, consider heading to Pier 39 to catch a glimpse of the sea lions and enjoy the lively atmosphere. Take a relaxing stroll along the Embarcadero and admire the beautiful cityscape illuminated by the city lights.


Find a comfortable accommodation in San Francisco to rest after a day filled with exploration and excitement. Reflect on the incredible journey you’ve had along Highway 395, and relish the memories you’ve made along the way.


As your Highway 395 road trip comes to an end, you can look back on a journey that showcased the unparalleled natural beauty, cultural experiences, and adventures that California has to offer. Cherish the memories of the open road and the joy of discovering new places.



Embarking on a Highway 395 road trip through California is a remarkable adventure that allows you to witness the incredible diversity and natural beauty of the Golden State. From the bustling city of Los Angeles to the iconic landmarks of San Francisco, this road trip itinerary takes you on a journey through picturesque landscapes, charming towns, and unforgettable experiences.


Along the way, you’ll encounter majestic mountains, crystal-clear lakes, historic ghost towns, and vibrant cities. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the outdoors through hiking, fishing, kayaking, and more. Indulge in the local cuisine, learn about the rich history of the region, and immerse yourself in the unique culture of each destination.


The Highway 395 road trip offers something for everyone, whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking an adventure on the open road. As you travel from one destination to the next, you’ll be captivated by the changing landscapes and find yourself in awe of the natural wonders that California has to offer.


From the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the sparkling waters of Lake Tahoe, the road trip along Highway 395 provides a perfect blend of outdoor exploration and cultural discoveries. Each day brings new experiences, allowing you to create memories that will last a lifetime.


As you conclude your Highway 395 road trip in the vibrant city of San Francisco, you’ll reflect on the breathtaking views, the laughter shared with travel companions, and the sense of freedom that comes with the open road. The memories and experiences from this journey will stay with you forever, and you’ll carry a piece of California in your heart.


So, when you’re ready for a captivating and unforgettable adventure, pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on the Highway 395 road trip. Discover the magic and allure of California’s eastern Sierra region, and let the open road guide you to extraordinary experiences and cherished moments.