The Town of Bridgeport, CA
The town itself is a charming mix of around 500 local residents and hundreds of other people visiting from all over the world, all depending on the time of year. In the winter months it's a sleepy little town, with only a few permanent residents staying over during the cold season. However, winter here has its own rewards to offer, including some of the most scenic and spectacular backcountry terrain to be found anywhere in the High Sierra. Hundreds of miles of trails are available for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The East Walker River is open to fishing year-round. Its trophy sized brown and rainbow trouts enjoy the cooler water temperatures and light angling pressure, and fishermen who brave the cold have all the best spots on the river to themselves. Come spring, Bridgeport turns into a vibrant, active community. The trails and wilderness are still available, but the solitude of the mountains might have to be shared with others. Luckily, this part of the Sierra Nevada Range remains isolated, untouched, and ready to be explored.
In summary, the town of Bridgeport, situated at 6463 feet and surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in the country, is the hidden gem of the outdoor enthusiast. Located less then one hour from Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite and only an hour and a half from South Lake Tahoe, the town provides an incomparable base location for many adventures. The numerous lakes and rivers, including the Bridgeport Reservoir, East and West Walker River, Owens River, Virginia Lakes, Twin Lakes, Topaz Lake, and the many wonderful creeks including Robinson, Green, Virginia, Lundy, Lee Vining, Rush and Hot Creek, to name a few, offer some of the best fishing to be experienced anywhere in the world.
Lakes near Bridgeport, CA
Most of the lakes listed below are located just a short drive from Paradise Shores.
- Twin Lakes
Upper and Lower Twin Lakes are located 10 miles west of Bridgeport and offer many activities, including, of course, fishing, but also kayaking, sailing, water skiing, swimming and even a rope swing! Many hiking trails start here and take you to great alpine meadows, mountain lakes, rock climbing, and mountain biking. You can access the Pacific Crest Trail, The John Muir Trail and Yosemite from here. This area is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are travelling through during the early season months when the mountains are covered in snow and the meadows are alight with wildflower.
This is where the largest CA trout was caught in 1987, 26lbs 8oz. Every angler this side of the Mississippi has to take a trip here and give’er a go. Tucked up under the impressive Sawtooth Mountains at 7,000 feet, and surrounded by huge majestic Jeffrey pine, the Twin Lakes has something to offer to everyone. At the end of your day bring your catch into the cafeteria and have them cook it for you. Or order one of their delicious burger place.
- June Lake
This is the quintessential Eastern Sierra lake and town. Tall pine trees, blazing aspens and soaring peaks with waterfalls tumbling right into the lakes. The June Lakes are actually comprised of four lakes. June, Gull, Silver and Grant Lakes are all easily accessible from the June Lake Loop Road. A short hike takes you to The Ansel Adams Wilderness with Agnew and Gem lakes and the Thousand Island Lakes area. It should be called the thousand lakes area. Whatever it’s called, all can agree the views are staggering.
Located 30 miles south of Bridgeport, at 7600 feet under the mighty Mt Carson and June Ski resort, the June Lakes are the crown jewel of the Eastern Sierras. Check out the town of June Lake for some good food, art, and souvenir shops. For a mellow day, hike to Gem Lake in the morning, rent one of the boats for the afternoon and cap it off with a massage and dinner at The Double Eagle Resort. Now, that’s living.
- Virginia Lakes
Ok, we’ve saved the best for last. Virginia is our favorite easy access lake. It’s really our year-round playground, and the one we go to most often. We don’t go to Little Virginia much although it has HUGE fish, and John and Carolyn make a great burger. No, in the summers we go to Big Virginia Lakes, slip the kayaks in and fish for the brookies and rainbow. At 9500ft, it’s the most alpine of all the lakes we’ve mentioned. All the lakes up here are in steep mountain cirques with cliffs, waterfalls and boulder fields surrounding. In the winters we ski those same cirques, straight out of the car.
Ten miles south of Bridgeport turn right at the summit of Conway Pass and coax your car to climb another thousand feet. Park at the edge of the Big Virginia Lake. Take a breath of the rarefied air. Look up and count the mountains so close, you feel like you could touch them. Starting on your left is Mt Olsen, South Pk, Black Mt, Mt Dunderberg, and Castle Pk. The waterfall on your left takes you to Red Lk and the trail to the right takes you to Frog lake and Summit pass. Either way you go, you won’t be sorry.
- Mono Lake
One of our favorite day trips is to the Mono Lake Basin located right along Hwy 395, just a short 20 mile drive south from Paradise Shores. There you'll find many volcanic craters, black cinder cones and tablelands to investigate. As you round the crest of Conway Summit, stretching out below you is the dreamlike blue expanse of Mono Lake with its spectacular white “tufa towers.” We highly recommend spending some time exploring the Mono Lake Basin area. A good place to start your visit is at the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center. This center overlooks the lake and its several interactive displays provide a good introduction to the geology and history of the lake.
So, why should you devote your precious vacation time to Mono Lake? Mainly, because Mono Lake is just a different kind of lake. It’s old. At least 700,000 years old to be exact. This fact makes it one of the oldest existing lakes on the continent. It covers 70 square miles and along with The Great Salt Lake is the remnant of a huge inland sea, which once covered most of Nevada and Utah. The Mono Lake Basin has no outlet to the ocean. Because of this, years of evaporation have left the water salty and alkaline. If you decide to jump in for a swim, be prepared to float like a cork. And leave your fishing rod at home; there are no fish in Mono Lake. Due to its salinity, (the lake is 2 to 3 times saltier than the ocean), the only surviving organisms are the algae, which serves as food to the many brine shrimp and alkali flies. Much of this country’s brine flake fish food comes from the shrimp factory located on the shores of Mono Lake.
One of the major attractions of Mono is the often-photographed “tufas” which have graced many record albums, calendars, and motivational posters. You probably have seen the beautiful white towers and knobs that line the shore and shallows and have become the trademark of the area. Tufas are made of limestone and are created under water as fissures release the carbonate minerals. They’re basically build-ups that only occur at the bottom of the lake. Normally they wouldn’t be visible above the surface. However, in 1941 the City of Los Angeles began excessive water diversions from Mono Basin streams. As a result, the water levels dropped nearly 50 feet and the tufas were discovered.
Another activity available in The Mono Basin is bird watching. Over 300 species are represented in this area. Every June, Mono Lake fills up with bird lovers attending the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. During this weekend, one can participate in many seminars and field trips. One of them even takes place at Paradise Shores!
Similar to Mono Lake, the Bridgeport Reservoir offers large numbers of different bird species. The last few years we’ve partnered with the organizers of the Bird Chautauqua, and as a result, four different trips of the Bridgeport Reservoir launch directly from Paradise Shores. To learn more about these trips, visit the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua.
Bodie, CA – Best Preserved Ghost Town in California
Paradise Shores Camp is located near Bodie ghost town. We're one of the closest lodging facilities (20 miles drive) to Bodie, Ca.
Now a well known ghost town, Bodie in its heyday was a booming community comprised of about 8,000 residents and 2,000 buildings. It was gold, first discovered in this area around 1859, that drew people to this god-forsaken desert location, where many a miner's wife and child perished during the bitterly cold winters, either in childbirth or from influenza. The old gravestones in the town's cemetery tell the sad tale of their hard lives and early demise. One miner's wife wrote to her friend back home, "Goodbye world, I'm going to Bodie." Established in the late 1800s, Bodie prospered as a thriving mining community until the mine played-out and most of its residents decided to follow the gold-mining boom as it spread across the West to newly discovered claims and newly erected boom-towns. Eventually the town was abandoned and left to its slow decay.
In order to preserve the historic town in an authentic state of "arrested decay," the State set aside Bodie as a State Park in 1962. As a result, this piece of California gold-fever history has become a world-renown tourist destination attracting about 200,000 visitors every year. With many of the original buildings still in place, a walk through the park is an experience that will transport you back in time to the mid-1980s. Even if you do not participate in one of the informative tours offered by the rangers and only explore the park yourself, you will be struck with wonder at the uniqueness and authenticity of this place. It is a "must-do" visit if you find yourself traveling through this area. Make sure to bring your camera and stick around for the sunset, as the pictures can be just magnificent.
Yosemite National Park and Tuolumne Meadows
Yosemite National Park covers an area of nearly 1,200 square miles across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The park is well known for its dominant granite walls, including the awe inspiring El Capitan. The view of this massive 3000 foot vertical rock giant will take your breath away every time, no matter how many times you've seen it before. El Capitan is the mecca of rock climbing and you will encounter many climbers in the valley throughout the entire season. Besides the sheer elegance and magnificence of these granite walls, the waterfalls that cascade over their massive cliffs are some of the most spectacular in the world. Leaping over their rock precipices and thundering down in curtains and comets of billowing spray, they leave you wondering about your own significance on the planet. You can view the falls at their peak during the months of April, May and June, when the melting snow swells the falls into massive rivers of frigid water.
Over 3.7 million people come to Yosemite every year to hike on some of the more than 800 hiking trails available. One can find trails of every difficulty and length, varying from a half-mile stroll along the river to weeks-long back country expeditions. With 95% of it being designated wilderness, the options are limitless.
If your time is limited, one way of making the most out of your visit is to take the scenic Tioga Road drive. This road is 39 miles long and takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the park, past alpine lakes, granite domes, and serene meadows. Topping out at 9,945ft., Tioga Road is the highest road accessible by car in California.
One of the perks of this drive is the largest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada, Tuolumne Meadows. The Tuolumne River winds through the lush meadow and the surrounding majestic domes give the whole place a serenity that is magical. During the spring/early summer, this place turns into a vibrantly colored carpet as the whole meadow is filled with thousands of blooming wildflowers. If you have a choice, try to come here in the blooming season as it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, this whole area is spectacular any time of the year and I always prefer to come here rather than visit the tourist-crowded Yosemite Valley. Also, be aware of wildlife, as wild animals are a fairly common occurrence in this area. I will never forget seeing a bear cub crossing a road on our 5 am. drive to the base of a climb. He was just so cute! ...from the safety of the car that is :-)
Just keep in mind that the road (HWY 120) typically doesn't open until late spring due to accumulated snow, which could be as late as early June after a heavy snow season.