The Scenic Route

After our night in the Alabama Hills we continue north on Hwy 395 with the goal being a campsite off Silver Canyon Road near Bishop and a few days of nothing but resting up. The heat has taken its toll on us.

Either I read the directions wrong or the information is incorrect because the campsite is NOT just a mile off 395, it’s more like 25 miles and the road climbs at a good 6% almost the whole way. I couldn’t tell you for sure, because I decide I do not want to subject the van to that 6% up and again back down and I turn around.

I settle for a spot just off the road once it levels out again which I am hoping is BLM land because once I park it I don’t want to be run off and have to find something in the dark which would be my luck.  I choose this site because it looks like the public has definitely been here; ATV tracks and empty shotgun shells, and some broken glass litter the area. The road is pretty decent though and there’s actually some SHADE so we park it.

I didn’t find out until later (from a stone marker and plaque) that the area is called Zurich Station where once was a railroad station. The only thing left is the huge concrete slab floor of the building and the loading dock, dilapidated and rusting. The dock was pretty high and that’s what gave us the shade.

Next morning we head out with a campsite just north of Bishop as the goal; we still need a few days rest and I don’t care if it’s just a few miles down the road. Today wasn’t to be our rest day either. The site mentioned on the freecamping web page has dump trucks running back and forth along the canal. NOOOOOOOOO! 

Nothing to do but move on. A stop at Von’s in Bishop for some gas and a block of ice also yields some information on the Hwy 6/Hwy120 “scenic route” which starts in Bishop and comes out in Lee Vining.  Sounds good to me.

The scenic part isn’t all that scenic it’s pretty much the same ol’ landscape but eventually about 25 miles in the high desert begins to give way to some ranches with green fields and juniper trees are beginning to show here and there.

We get to Benton where Hwy 6 turns into 120 if you go left and there’s a sign that says 120 is closed.  CLOSED!!!  Oh no!  I drive a little farther and see some men working in the local park; I stop and ask about the closure. Apparently they haven’t removed all the snow as of yet, but he tells me that if I keep going until right where the road is actually closed and take a left I will be on what’s called Benton Crossing and it will take me back out to Highway 395 just south of Mammoth.  It’s either that or back the way we came. I hate to backtrack so it’s onward for us.

We come to where the road forks and it looks like a mini Alabama Hills here, but the rock formations have juniper trees growing amongst them.

DSC_0031 (1)DSC_0030 (1)The road is two-lane, narrow, and very winding. We begin the climb in elevation. We hit snow, but the road is absolutely clear and dry. The plow has been through here a while ago it seems.

We reach the summit and the dogs get a break to check out the white stuff

We eventually get to 395 and there’s still a lot of DEEP snow in them thar Sierra Nevada’s. I am not sure how many miles we drove today. Probably around 150 which isn’t all that much, but being tired to begin with and add the tense driving of the detour I am ready to call it a day. But there’s no place to even stop for the night once we get onto 395. All the rest areas are closed.  We need to get to Lee Vining. It’s only 25 more miles, but I am ready to collapse.

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs! Hugs, Shawna

Author: 2DogsTravel

Hello! Welcome to my blog. I am a full-time traveler, retired from a lifetime of different occupations, traveling the country with my two little dogs, Fries and Charlie B; The Chiweenie Brothers. You never know where you might find us, but if you do stop by and say hi . . . If you can get past the two best watch dogs in the universe! Happy Trails!

2 thoughts on “The Scenic Route”

  1. Yike, Hope you made it to Lee Vining, ok…Before you collapsed. You are far braver than I. But when you win, you are far stronger than you thought. Today has been busy and mostly successful, for me. My grand daughter asked me to sponsor her in Read a Book, Feed a family type thing where they earn money to buy chickens, goats etc for people to teach them how to raise animals for food, fibre and to succeed in being independent. I gave her an amount and told her I would double it if she read more than the number of books she thought she might read. We get to see what will happen. Cold front coming in tonight with snow predicted down to 4000ft tonight but great by tuesday. Have a great time checking out the ghost towns around Lee Vining..Think Calico is somewhere near there. It has been about 40 yrs since I was down that way. Take care.


    1. Yep, we made it okay. Calico isn’t on 395, it’s off I-40 near Barstow. I checked it out on the way through there and decided to skip it as it seemed to be very commercialized. Bodie is the one I am really interested in. Onward!


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