Panda playing in the Mammoth Pines. CC kpuipui99
Whether you’re coming to the Mammoth Lakes area from north or south, you’re in for hours of visual delights as you cruise Highway 395, a federally designated scenic byway skirting the snow-capped Eastern Sierra.
Heading north from Los Angeles, make a pit stop at Erick Schat’s Bakery in Bishop and pick up a loaf of soft, pull-apart bread to sustain you on the rest of the trip. If there’s no snow at road level as you approach Mammoth, grab your leash, your dog and your camera and take a hike around Convict Lake, an achingly beautiful circle of blue rimmed by aspens and surrounded by towering granite peaks. Book a pet-friendly cabin at Convict Lake Resort and wake up at sunrise to find yourself in a pink-and-gold wonderland.
At Mammoth, 10 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails are open to XC enthusiasts with four-legged companions in the vicinity of rustic and very dog-friendly Tamarack Lodge. Snowshoe trails, also dog-friendly, are maintained separately. If solitude is your preference, know that dogs, leashed or under voice control, are allowed on all trails within the expansive Inyo National Forest —and that Mammoth abounds with dog-friendly places to stay.
If you’re heading south from Reno on 395 and the ground is bare, make a side trip to Bodie State Historic Park, a genuine ghost town and one of the eeriest places you’ll ever visit. Leashed dogs are welcome to accompany you as you peer into weathered wooden buildings that take on an especially lonely and very photogenic aspect in winter. Another great stop is Mono Lake, where dog-friendly trails lead to close-up views of the distinctive tufa towers that make this briny body of water so unique.