Get Off the Beaten Path And Experience The Eastern Sierra By Snowmobile

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Mono County, Calif.California’s Eastern Sierra is home to a bounty of outdoor winter recreation, but for those that want to venture beyond the ski slopes, snowmobiling offers an exciting way to explore the beauty of the Eastern Sierra in the wintertime.

At the northern end of Mono County, the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area off Sonora Pass Road (SR 108—5 miles west of US Hwy. 395 at the Caltrans/People’s Gate) is open for winter adventuring. Depending on snow conditions, the multi-use winter recreation and wilderness area welcomes experienced snowmobilers, as well as advanced cross-country skiers or snowshoers, to explore the spectacular and challenging mountain terrain.

Day-use permits are mandatory but free of charge. Stop by the Bridgeport Ranger Station located just south of Bridgeport on US 395, or click here for more information and to fill out a permit in advance. Before venturing out into the backcountry, be sure to have the proper safety equipment and education regarding hazards, snow and avalanche conditions. Anyone considering heading into the mountains beyond established ski resorts in the winter should check www.BridgeportAvalancheCenter.org for conditions in the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area or www.esavalanche.org for regional current snow and avalanche conditions. 

Once winter is fully up and running, miles of trails are available for snowmobiling at the June Lake Junction (where US Highway 395 meets Highway 158) on trails maintained by the Inyo National Forest. Guided tours and rentals (kid-size machines, too) are available through DJ’s Snowmobile Adventures. Book at SnowmobileMammoth.com or call (800) 709-4501. Scheduled to open Dec. 21.

Mammoth Snowmobile Adventures is conveniently located on Mammoth Mountain adjacent to the main lodge. Experienced guides lead guests on tours to pristine backcountry, spacious meadows, historic landmarks and lush pine forests via access to thousands of acres of trails.

Shady Rest Park right in the heart of Mammoth Lakes offers many miles of marked trails, the most popular being Bald Mountain, Lookout Mountain Loop, Sawmill Trail, and Vista Loop. Staging area is just south of Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center on Hwy. 203.  For more info and maps, contact 760-924-5500. For a grooming report visit www.mammothweb.com (go to recreation and snowmobiling).

The 2016 June Lake Winter Festival & Snowmobile Rally takes place Feb. 27-28 at June Lake. The snowmobile rally provides the opportunity for friendly winter competition on snowmobile trails that stretch from June Lake to the heights of Glass Mountain. The weekend-long festival is fun for the entire family.

Rock Creek Lodge offers a unique “Adventure Dining” winter experience—only accessible by snowmobile taxi (or on your own steam via skis or snowshoes)—an unforgettable cabin-in-the-woods experience. Open mid-December (Dec. 22, 2015) through the first weekend in April, 2016 and reservations are required.

Please note that the mountain passes are closed for the winter usually until mid-May: Tioga Pass (SR 120 through Yosemite), Sonora Pass (SR 108), and Monitor Pass (SR 89).

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