Crowley Lake, located south of the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes, is a lesser-known getaway in the Sierra Nevadas -- and more than worth the hike across the state and down through a string of gorgeous national parks and forests.
Crowley Lake draws lovers of the outdoors and, especially during warmer months, lovers of water sports. iI's a rare location in the Eastern Sierra where you can drive right up to the water’s edge. With 45 miles of shoreline, fishing, boating, waterskiing and wakeboarding are popular.
Of course, when winter blows in with the snow, the mountains come alive with all the slip-and-glide sports that get your heart racing. Nearby Mammoth Lakes is one of the premier skiing and boarding spots in the region.
Crowley Lake is about 350 miles from San Francisco. Take I-80 E toward Bay Bridge/Oakland and continue onto I-580 W/I-80 E for about 80 miles. Keep left at the fork to continue on I-80BL E/US-50 E/Capital City Fwy and follow signs for Interstate 80 Business/Sacramento/South Lake Tahoe. Five miles later continue on US-50 E/El Dorado Fwy. This part of the drive will take you through a glorious stretch of El Dorado National Forest.
Find a scenic overlook here if you need to stop and stretch your legs. Near the eastern edge of the forest, you’ll turn right onto CA-89 S and 11 miles later, left onto CA-88 E/CA-89 S. There are a few turns in quick succession coming up. You’ll enter Nevada and continue on NV-88 N for a few miles before making a right onto NV-756 E/Centerville Ln. Continue straight on Dresslerville Rd for just under 1.5 miles and then continue onto Riverview Dr before making a right onto US-395 S/US-395 N. That's your run all the way down to Crowley Lake.
The Best Western Plus High Sierra Hotel, in Mammoth Lakes, is 13 miles from Crowley Lake. Location is prime for hitting the slopes and trails in Mammoth Lakes or for running up and down CA-395. Parking and Wi-Fi are free. You can make your morning cup of joe right in your room before tackling a day of thrills in the surrounding Sierra Nevadas.
This Mammoth Lakes hotel near Crowley Lake is considered a home away from home, know for more than 40 years for its hospitality and prized for its proximity to endless outdoor adventure. Only minutes from Crowley Lake and from Mammoth Mountain’s Eagle Express ski lift, this hotel is a fantastic spot for High Sierra skiing and snowboarding, fishing, hiking, mountain biking and myriad other recreational activities.
Convict Lake Resort located in nearby Mammoth Lakes, offers mountain views and mountain life. With cabins suited for guests rolling in as pairs or parties up to 34, the resort is loaded with outdoor adventure. Fishing, camping, horseback riding, standup paddleboarding ... the list goes on. There's an onsite restaurant and bar and endless nature for miles and miles.
Crowley Lake General Store is the catch-all pit stop for a day on the lake or trails. The baked goods and sandwiches get raves, but the pizza takes the trophy here, believe it or not. Grab lunch to go, stock up on energy drinks, get bundles of firewood and BBQ supplies.
Tom's Place is an iconic stop in this area, a must-visit only a few miles from the Rock Creek trailhead that launches you into the John Muir Wilderness. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the kind of spot you hit up multiple times during your getaway if all-American classics are your what you're after.
The Red Meadows Mule House Cafe is a fantastic place to kickoff your day off with breakfast before tackling a hike to Devil's Postpile or Rainbow Falls ... or whatever else you have planned. The cafe makes an excellent homestyle French toast. The home-fries, homemade pies and burgers also collect raves. The wait staff is very nice and welcoming, and the location in Red's Meadow is gorgeous.
Devil's Postpile National Monument is great for all ages and all levels of hikers. Tackles the up-and-down trail to see the beautiful waterfall at the bottom of the valley or grab a seat on the bus that runs every 30 min to and from various stops at the bottom of the valley. At the Postpile parking lot, it's an easy half-mile walk to the bottom of the rocks. Go see the hexagonal lava rocks, up close and personal.
Hot Creek offers amazing fly fishing where the trout run amid a landscape of nearby hot pools of bubbling waters and spurting mud. It's a surreal environment that might tempt you to get caught looking around as much as you're looking after mending your line.
Mammoth Lake Bike Park brings outdoor lovers to the slopes in summer to feel the crank and coast on two wheels. But biking isn't the only summer action here. Rock climbing walls and a range of outdoor adventure is setup on the mountain when the snow turns to lush greenery.
Crowley Lake offers a marina, RV sites, boat rentals and a café. Rent a kayak and explore the remarkable 20-foot sand columns, formed 760,000 years ago, on the northeast shore. In town, the Crowley Lake General Store serves up breakfast wraps, sandwiches, dinners, home-made desserts and a fine collection of California wines.
Mammoth Mountain in the winter is legendary for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. There even are junior half pipes and terrain park runs for those of us still eyeing X-Game dreams ... that might not happen. The staff is great and always helpful.