Home » Eastern Sierra Nevada and Death Valley
From Lassen Volcanic National Park, we took the scenic US 89 south to Lake Tahoe – where we stayed for two nights,  and from there along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada on US 395 down to Mono Lake and Bishop, where we spent another two nights.

Lake Tahoe as seen from Incline Village at the north side of the lake

US 395 is a quite interesting road, as it follows the eastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada: While the scenery to the right (west) is lush and green, it is arid and desert-like on the other side, even around lakes like the Mono Lake.

Mono Lake

Not far away from Mono Lake, we found another one of these wonderful National Forest campgrounds, this time at the north side of the June Lake.


OH Ridge campground at the June Lake



June Lake

Here, at the east side of the Sierra Nevada, is the home of the oldest living beings on earth: The Bristlecone Pine. Yes, the oldest trees are not the giant Sequoias or Redwoods that are growing on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, or elsewhere along the Pacific coast – like we thought – but the gnarled and rather unimpressive Bristlecone Pines that grow east of Bishop, CA, at an altitude of almost 10,000 ft. At this altitude, the growing season is only 1-2 months a year, and the annual rings are so close together that they can only be identified (and counted!) using a microscope. The oldest one of these trees is over 4,800 years old – the oldest living thing on earth.




These trees were already 2,000 years old when Julius Caesar ruled the Roman Empire!
 

Our next destination was Las Vegas, where we were to meet Silke’s parents who arrived from Germany to join our trip for two weeks. Coming from Bishop, we had to choose wether to take CA 168 eastwards or CA 190 across the Death Valley. After checking out the 168, we found that the road was too narrow and full of sharp turns so that it would have been too time consuming with our 36 ft. trailer. So we took the Death Valley road, but we decided not to stop there because the temperature was still above 100 F (37 C). Quite a change of scenery after many weeks of mountains and forests and lush vegetation!

Approaching Death Valley

The lowest point in Death Valley is 282 ft (86 m) below sea level, and is the location of the highest ever recorded temperature on earth: 136 F (58 C), measured in 1913.


Death Valley near Furnace Creek, temperature 102 F in October 2012

 

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