What to See on the June Lakes Loop: 2022 Complete Guide

Cover photo for a comprehensive June Lakes Loop guide featuring Grant Lake.

The scenic June Lakes Loop is nestled in an idyllic stretch of the Eastern Sierras that will be on your natural route from Yosemite National Park to Mammoth Lakes, California.  It has been a popular spot since being discovered by Hollywood in the 1920s.

Whether you have a week to enjoy its alpine beauty or just a few spare hours for a quick detour, you will not regret the time you spend here.

This travel guide has been created for the purpose of educating road trippers and vacationers alike on all there is to see and do on the June Lakes Loop drive. In addition, we have also created photography and visitor guides to other regional attractions that you will want to queue up if your itinerary and calendar permits:

June Lakes Loop Overview

June Lakes Loop drone photography featuring June Lake Beach from above.
Whether vacationing or just driving through, expect endless scenic views along the June Lakes Loop.

The June Lakes Loop is a scenic drive that detours from Highway 395. You will find plenty of signs to indicate the detour to Highway CA-158. The loop will begin at June Lakes Junction from the South or near Rush Creek from the North. The entirety of the drive is 15.7 miles and takes approximately 23 minutes without stops.

During the winter, there are significant road closures that prevent driving this as a loop. You will always be able to visit Gull Lake, June Lake, and the ski resort, but the section of CA-158 that delivers you to Silver Lake and Grant Lake will be closed!

If you are visiting in the warmer months, expect your nose to be glued to the car window throughout the journey! There are four lakes on the June Lakes Loop, including Grant Lake, Silver Lake, Gull Lake, and June Lake. Additionally, there are several small communities at each where accommodation, food, and services can be found.

Many visitors will plan an entire weekend or even week-long getaway. However, those in it just for the views can quickly and easily see everything in a couple of hours of lake-hopping on their way north to Yosemite / Lee Vining or south to Mammoth Lakes.

Map of June Lakes Loop

The below map shows the driving directions, times, and distances between the lakes on the June Lake Loop drive. Click here or on the image below to open the Google Map with full information and directions in a new tab.

Map of the driving route for June Lake Loop scenic drive.
Map of the driving route for June Lake Loop scenic drive.

What to see on the June Lakes Loop

Vibrant blue waters framed by pine trees and set against a mountain backdrop at June Lake
Expect spectacular views over vibrant blue waters set against a mountain backdrop on the June Lakes Loop!

Unsurprisingly, the main attractions of the June Lakes Loop are the idyllic, mountainside lakes! There are four in total and each is worth a short visit if time permits.

We have listed the lakes in the order in which you will encounter them if coming from the north. If you are driving up from the south, expect to discover them in the opposite order!

Grant Lake

Grant Lake is the largest and first stop on the June Lakes Loop drive.
Grant Lake is the largest and first stop on the June Lakes Loop drive.

As you begin the June Lakes Loop, you will climb some elevation and almost immediately be rewarded with a view worthy to appear on any postcard. Grant Lake, tucked into Reversed Peak Mountain, is the largest and arguably most beautiful of the four lakes you will visit on your drive.

There is a campground and many places for fishing, as well as a marina, but otherwise no amenities at Grant Lake. This is a popular location for photographers, anglers, and RVers to spend the day basking in the California sunshine and enjoying the views.

Silver Lake

Kayakers flock to Silver Lake for a day on the water with breathtaking views of the Sierras.
Kayakers flock to Silver Lake for a day on the water with breathtaking views of the Sierras.

Up the road from Grant Lake is the slightly busier but equally pristine Silver Lake. Though the lake is much smaller, it is popular amongst visitors for kayaking, boating, paddleboarding, and camping. Surrounded by pine trees and alpine beauty, this hidden treasure is sure to steal more than a gaze on your way through.

If you fancy a meal with a view, consider grabbing a bite at Silver Lake Cafe. The ample outdoor seating and pleasant atmosphere provide the perfect complement to the unbeatable scenery.

In addition to the cafe, you will find campgrounds and a resort right at the lakeside. You will need to drive a couple of miles further toward Gull Lake, however, to find more amenities and lodging. About 2 miles from the boat ramp is a wide variety of accommodation options and services.

Gull Lake

Gull Lake and breathtaking views of mountainside lagoons on the June Lakes Loop drive.
Expect breathtaking views of mountainside lagoons throughout the June Lakes Loop drive.

The third and smallest lake on the June Lakes Loop, just past the June Mountain Ski Area, is Gull Lake. This impossibly-blue lagoon is a popular choice for visitors who want to stay in the village nearby and avoid the larger crowds of June Lake.

If you are looking to spend a weekend nearby, consider looking for accommodation near Gull Lake. The lakeside village has everything from cafes to breweries to bars. Because it borders June Lake, this will be the most popular and busiest area.

June Lake

Gazing out at the inviting waters of June Lakes from a roadside viewpoint.
Gazing out at the inviting waters of June Lakes from a roadside viewpoint.

Whether you want to spend a day in the sand, on the water, or admiring the views from the roadside, June Lake is the place! Passersby can simply stop to admire the vistas, grab some food or a brew with a view in town, or take a night off at one of many local accommodation options. Those with weekend or week-long plans will find the widest variety of services, amenities, and accommodation here.

As you might expect, June Lake is the busiest of the four lakes on the scenic loop drive. Only June Lake and Grant Lake have beaches, but the sand is much finer and more enjoyable at June Lake Beach.

Consider staying at June Lake if you are traveling with a family or prefer nearby amenities to solitude. If tranquility is your priority, you might prefer camping at Grant Lake instead.

Things to do on the June Lakes Loop

There is so much to do beyond enjoying the alpine beauty of the June Lakes Loop for those who have the time to adventure a bit. In the summer, when temperatures are reasonable and all roads are open, visitors frequent the area to enjoy world-class paddle boarding, fishing, kayaking, and more. Of course, most people simply come to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a vacation in the mountains.

Below is a list of the most popular activities and resources for arranging them.

Fish for Alpers Trout

Fishermen flock to the June Lakes Loop for a chance at tropy-size alpers trout.
A fisherman waits patiently for a bite at Gull Lake.

All four of the lakes along the June Lakes loop are flush with trophy-size Alpers trout, making this a world-class destination for anglers. There are boats and rafts available for rent nearby, as well as local fishing and tackle guides if desired.

If fly fishing is your thing, Rush Creek is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike.

Go horse riding in the June Lakes Backcountry

Horses at Frontier Pack Train wait to be booked for an adventure through the backcountry of the Eastern Sierras.
Consider a horseback adventure into the Eastern Sierra backcountry for an unforgettable experience.

If you are looking for a way to see the unspoiled wilderness of the June Lakes region, consider a horse riding adventure into the wild backcountry.

The Dohnels are a local family that operate Frontier Pack Train. They have been guiding horseback visitors on unforgettable tours through the Sierra wilderness for years and personally attend to your itinerary, safety, and comfort.

Hit the water by boat, kayak, or paddle board

Boating is one of the most popular reasons to head for the June Lakes Loop in the summer.
Boating is one of the most popular reasons to head for the June Lakes Loop in the summer.

The inviting blue waters of the June Lakes loop are not just eye candy! If the sun is shining and the temperatures are reasonable, there is no better way to spend a day than getting lost in daydreams while paddling about any one of the four lakes.

Each lake has a boat ramp and ample shoreline to launch from. Bring your own vessel or easily find one for rent at any of the local shops.

Enjoy a day on the beach

A distant view of June Lake Beach, dotted with families enjoying a day in the sand.
A distant view of June Lake Beach, dotted with families enjoying a day in the sand.

Grab your partner, the whole family, or just a refreshing beverage and hit the June Lake Beach for a well-earned day of respite! Once parked, soft sand and blissful views await you on the shores of June Lake. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen! We recommend a biodegradable, reef-safe sunscreen such as Stream 2 Sea to help protect the aquatic environment.

Hit the slopes

If you’re visiting in the winter, June Mountain offers 1500 acres of mountains for skiing and snowboarding. Whether you’re a beginner and looking to take lessons or an advanced winter sports enthusiast ready to hit the backcountry, you’ll find ample opportunity to enjoy the powder.

Go on a hike

Gull Lake is quiet, smaller lake and a favorite for fishing enthusiasts
Go on a hike around Gull Lake or one of the many other stunning nature trails in the area.

There are a number of beautiful hikes and walks throughout the June Lakes region. If you have the time, it is well worth exploring some of these trails. Below are some of the most popular hikes in the area:

  • Yost Lake Trail: 6 mile round trip, moderate hike
  • Fern Lake Trail: 3.4 mile round trip, strenuous hike with 1500ft elevation gain
  • Gull Lake Trail: 2 mile round trip, easy hike
  • Parker Lake Trail: 4 mile round trip, easy/moderate hike
  • Reversed Peak Trail: Varied length up to 6 mile round trip, moderate hike
  • Walker Lake Trail: 2 mile round trip, difficult hike with 800ft elevation gain
  • Rush Creek Trail / Agnew Lake: 2 miles to Agnew Lake, this trail joins longer hikes including the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail

Sample some craft beers at June Lake Brewing

Want a brew with a view? Look no further than June Lake Brewing, located in the village between Gull Lake and June Lake. You can sample a variety of hand-crafted beers made right on-site and sip with a view you won’t soon forget.

Soak in a natural hot spring

Explore natural hot springs nearby including Buckeye Hot Springs.

Within Mono County, you’ll discover many natural and completely free hot springs to enjoy! After a long day, there’s nothing better than soaking your weary muscles in thermal mineral water touted for its rejuvenating properties.

To the south of June Lake, you’ll find plenty of hot springs in Mammoth Lakes, including Hilltop Hot Springs, just a 30-minute drive away. Or venture 45 minutes north to Travertine Hot Springs and Buckeye Hot Springs.

June Lakes Loop Accommodation and Services

The town of June Lakes has all amenities you might expect, including a picturesque park to enjoy a summer afternoon picnic.
The town of June Lakes has all amenities you might expect, including a picturesque park to enjoy a summer afternoon picnic.

Gas, lodging, restaurants, and bars are all available on the June Lakes Loop… but be prepared to spend a little extra!

The small town at June Lake is the largest on the drive and is open year-round. There are a wide variety of accommodation options, ranging from RV parks to rustic cabins, as well as standard motels and lodges. Click here to check for current options, availability, and prices of accommodation at June Lake.

The nightlife is pretty minimal as one might expect, but the Tiger Bar and June Lake Brewing are popular spots for a late-night beverage.

If you need a bite to eat, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in town. Groceries, however, can only be purchased at the June Lake General Store.

There are no gas stations in town, but there is a Shell station as you enter (or exit) at June Lakes Junction.

Other Regional Guides

There is a ton to see in this region of Eastern California if you have time for most stops on your road trip. Below is a list of other regional and state guides that you may find helpful:

Mammoth Lakes and Nearby Destinations Guides

Yosemite National Park Guides

SoCal Guides

NorCal Guides

Final Thoughts on the June Lakes Loop

Photography from Grant Lake on the June Lakes Loop scenic drive.

Our one regret on our adventure on the June Lakes Loop is that we did not allow more time to truly enjoy everything there is on offer! The opportunities for photography are endless, even without hitting the backcountry or hiking trails!

We hope you found this guide useful for planning your vacation or short drive. If you found anything inaccurate or omitted, help us improve by leaving your feedback in the comments! Likewise, let us know if you found this helpful!

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