June Lake, located in the Eastern Sierras, is one of the most underrated destinations in California. It’s absolutely beautiful! There are so many awesome things to do in June Lake including hiking, kayaking, taking scenic drives, and exploring the town. Keep reading for the details and start planning your weekend trip!
SEE ALSO: 12 Epic California Weekend Getaways
First, let’s go over some important trip-planning info:
How to Get to June Lake
June Lake is about a 5 hour drive from Los Angeles and from San Francisco. It’s located right next to the popular ski resort Mammoth Mountain. There technically is an airport in Mammoth Lakes that you could fly in to (they have flights from LAX) but I recommend driving there as it’s a super scenic and easy drive from LA (and way cheaper than flying).
Best Time to Go to June Lake
This blog post is mainly for if you are visiting during summer/fall, when all the roads are open and the weather is warm enough to swim in the lake and go hiking. However, winter is a great time to visit if you enjoy skiing/snowboarding!
Where to Stay at June Lake
You can either camp or get an Airbnb/hotel in town:
Best Lodging in June Lake
There are plenty of great lodges or cabin options in June Lake, like this super cute Lucky Fish cabin! It’s centrally-located so you can walk pretty much anywhere, and has great views.
If you’re thinking more of a hotel/lodge option, the Double Eagle Resort and Spa has rave reviews!
Camping at June Lake
There are a few campground options in the area:
- Oh Ridge Campground
- June Lake Campground
- Gull Lake Campground
- Silver Lake Campground
I stayed at Oh Ridge campground, since it’s conveniently-located right near the beach at June Lake and the views from the campground are super scenic. Make your reservations a few months in advance if you want to secure a spot on the weekend.
If you are planning the trip last minute and there are no campgrounds available, download the Dyrt Pro app for all the free campsite options in the surrounding area!
If you want to camp, but also want some of the comforts of home, consider renting a campervan! My favorite campervan rental company is Travellers Autobarn. Their vans are spacious and include a sink, fridge, stove and microwave, and sleep 3 people inside. Also, they have free unlimited miles, which is something that most other campervan companies don’t offer!
What to Pack for June Lake
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- REI Joule Sleeping Bag (this is the one that I have and I love it)
- Inflatable Sleeping Pad (this is the one that I use)
- Portable Rocking Chair (This thing is AWESOME!)
- REI Flexlite Chair – low profile camping chair that’s a big space-saver
- The COLDEST Water Bottle (seriously – stays colder than Hydroflask or Yeti!)
- Decathlon 2-Second Tent (I love this one – it’s super easy to setup and you can sleep longer because of the blackout material)
- Hiking Boots (These are my favorite!)
- Camping String Lights (these are the ones I have and I love them!)
- Travel Towel
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (I bring this on EVERY camping trip. It packs up small and keeps you warm!)
- Sunski Polarized Glasses
- Camping Cooler
- Portable phone charger
- Cliff Bar Energy Chews (love these things for a boost of energy!)
- Kuhl Softshell Pants – These are my favorite pants to wear hiking or camping when the weather gets chilly!
- Periscoping Roasting Sticks – these come in handy when you want to roast smores or hot dogs over the fire!
- Camping Grill – this is the one I have, and I love it!
Best Things to Do in June Lake
(In no particular order)
1. Have a Beach Day!
One awesome thing about June Lake is that there’s a beach on the northeast end of the lake (right next to Oh Ridge campground). The beach is super scenic – with views of snowcapped mountains in the background.
One of the best things to do at June Lake is to have a beach day! Bring some snacks and drinks, find a spot on the beach, and enjoy the scenery. Bring some floats, a kayak, or a boat (there is a boat launch) and get out on the water. Or just go for a swim! The water is cold, but you get used to it pretty quickly.
2. Take a Scenic Drive
One of the most popular things to do in June Lake is to drive around June Lake Loop! This 16-mile drive on State Road 158 will take you around June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and more. Crank up the tunes, roll down your windows, and soak it all in!
3. Go for a Hike
There are some BEAUTIFUL hikes in the area! If you only have time for one hike during your time at June Lake, I highly recommend doing Parker Lake Trail:
- Miles: 3.6 rt
- Elevation Gain: 652 ft
- Trailhead: Parker Lake Trailhead
The trailhead is about a 20 min drive from Oh Ridge campground at June Lake.
This hike is simply stunning. It’s a pretty mild/moderate hike – most of the elevation gain happens in the first mile, and then the trail flattens out, winding along scenic Parker Creek. Once you arrive at the lake – the view is breathtaking! It reminds me of Big Pine Lakes .
Pro tip – pack a lunch (and a beer!) to enjoy at the top with a view of the lake!
Another hike option is Fern Lake Trail, which I’ve heard is beautiful as well. This one is a bit more difficult than Parker Lake Trail, at 3 miles rt but 1,564 ft elevation gain.
4. Explore the Town of June Lake
You definitely can’t miss exploring the cute little town of June Lake while you are in the area!
Your first stop should be June Lake Brewing. They have great beers, outdoor seating, and a Hawaiian food truck!
Some other great places to try are June Pie Pizza Co (we ordered pizza here and brought it back to our campsite one night – it was delicious. AND they have cauliflower crust pizza!) I’ve heard great things about The Lift – a cafe that serves great lunch, or wine & appetizers, and lastly, Tiger Bar for a local dive bar experience!
5. Devil’s Postpile
Ok so this is technically not in June Lake (It’s in Mammoth), but it’s nearby and definitely worth a short detour on your way home! Devil’s Postpile is this crazy geological rock formation that was formed by cooling lava which created tall cracked columns. It looks similar to the basalt columns at the Black Sand Beach in Iceland! It’s only open during the summer, when there is no snow on the roads.
It cost $10 per car to get in the entrance (or if you have an Annual Parks Pass you can use that). The drive to the trailhead is VERY scenic – with winding roads with a drop-off and a gorgeous view! (The hike to Devil’s Postpile is only 1 mile round trip. I recommend viewing from the bottom as well as from the top! Hike up the short hill/steps to get to the top, and check out the cool shapes from above the columns.
You have the option to continue hiking on to Rainbow Falls (6 miles round trip) if you have the time and want to check out the waterfall!
6. Wild Willy’s Hot Spring
Also not technically in June Lake, but this spot is a must-see when you are in the area! About 30 minutes from June Lake (on your way back towards LA) you’ll find Wild Willy’s Hot Spring. I LOVE this spot! This natural hot spring is nestled among snowcapped mountains in the distance.
Park at the dirt lot and follow the boardwalk to the natural hot spring. This hot spring is not really a secret – expect other people to be there when you arrive. It’s clothing optional as well, so be prepared for that! There are two main hot springs here – one small heart-shaped pool, and the main pool which has room for more people. Bring some drinks and plan for at least an hour here to relax and “soak” in the views!
Have more time? Drive about 2 hours south on the 395 to get to Alabama Hills. This area is absolutely BEAUTIFUL, with desert boulder landscape surrounded by snow-capped mountains in the background (including Mt Whitney – the highest peak in the lower 48 states!)