Here are some highlights and stories…from the second half of our trip. We like to mix up our travel routes even when repeating a beginning and end. Such is the case this year as we once again travel from Durango CO to Seattle WA. Last year we traveled thru Moab, around Salt Lake City, to Boise, western OR and Yakima WA to Seattle. This year we wanted to travel across southern Utah to Death Valley, then north on US395 to Oregon and then I-5 to Washington. We traveled this route from April 22 to May 13.
Death Valley National Park is one of our favorite parks. Whenever we are in the Las Vegas area we always try to visit Death Valley. This time was just an overnite stop at Texas Spring campground but we enjoyed it nevertheless.
US395 has been on our list since reading blogs about it from WheelingIt. Our first stop was Lone Pine CA, a small town at the base of Mt. Whitney the highest peak in the lower 48. We visited the Public Lands office to confirm our plan to boondock in the Alabama Hills area just west of town. It is a boondockers heaven. Easy road access to many many private, scenic sites for our rolling one-bedroom apartment. We found a nice spot, set up and went for a hike in the hills named after the Civil War raider CSS Alabama by Confederate sympathizers . Beautiful location, solar worked great, one of our alltime favorite boondocking sites.
From Alabama Hills we traveled north on US395. Our first stop was near Bishop CA at the Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site. The park is a well preserved narrow gauge railroad collection as well as a fine group of period buildings. The railroad was built as the Carson and Colorado from Mound House NV to Owens Lake CA. Eventually the mines played out and most of the Owens Valley was bought up by the water ravenous City of Los Angeles for water rights. The railroad town of Laws nearly ceased to exist. Preservationists opened the Laws Railroad Museum on April 1, 1966, 83 years to the day after the first train pulled into Laws.
The drive north on US395 is beautiful. Up a long valley with the snow covered Sierra Nevada on the left and other towering mountains on the right. A very interesting side trip was to the ghost town of Bodie, now a California State Park. A rich gold strike in the late 1870s caused th town to grow to 8,500 inhabitants with 2000 buildings in ony a few years. By the 1930s Bodie was a ghost . The town looks very much like everyone just walked away several decades ago. Preserved in a state of “arrested decay” by the state of California.
Overall, US395 did not disappoint us. It was a beautiful drive with far less traffic than any other north south route in California. We found picturesque places to stop along the way and there is still much to see on a return trip. We’ll definitely add this route to our collection of favorites.