In an earlier article, we named four natural attractions that should be on anyone’s bucket list. But… what about taking the road less traveled? Well, here’s 6 unique places to visit in California High Sierra that may not get the spotlight but are just as amazing to see in person.
Globe Rock (Oakhurst)
Legend has it that Teddy Roosevelt, often considered the “conservationist president”, found this place on one of his many hunting trips through the West. Located on the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, it is aptly nicknamed the “Secret Yosemite”. The geologic formation looks as if a giant placed this tremendous boulder on a tee for a game of golf and then forgot about it eons ago. Be sure to check the road conditions prior to visiting since parts of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway close due to snow.
Chidago Canyon (Bishop)
There are A LOT of interesting things to see in the Eastern Sierra such as the Bristlecone Pine Forest to the legendary fishing in the creeks, streams, alpine lakes, and rivers such as the Owens River. One that doesn’t pop up on many people’s radars is the Chidago Canyon. A good introductory to off-highway driving, you’ll be gifted with sweeping views of the White Mountains. Within this quiet area, you’ll find geological evidence of volcanic eruption around 750,000 years ago. The Volcanic Tablelands feel off-worldly as though you were transported to the film Chronicles of Riddick or Starship Troopers. In addition, you’ll find evidence of ancient art in petroglyphs created thousands of years before the 1st European settlers arrived.
Hot Creek Geological Area (Mammoth)
Between Mono Lake and the head of Owens Valley, the icy waters of Mammoth Creek descend into the Long Valley caldera. Similar to the Yellowstone National Park phenomenon, you’ll see sky-blue bubbling pools that seem unreal. And if you’re lucky, you may even see a geyser erupt from one of the many cauldrons within the Hot Creek Geological area. Be forewarned… these pools are not for swimming.
Allensworth State Park (Visalia)
Established more than a century ago, this one-of-a kind settlement holds a place in American History unlike any other in the country. It was the first municipality founded and governed solely by African Americans. The epitome of the American Dream. It’s where individuals built a place of their own through hard work, dedication, and faith to allow them and their children the opportunity to control their own discrimination-free destiny. Although the population has dwindled over the years due to lack of potable water, this isolated spot in the southern San Joaquin Valley is well worth the 45-minute trip from Visalia to explore and find inspiration for making a brighter future no matter the odds.
Indigeny Reserve (Sonora)
Gold country is renowned for its fantastic wines being made in and around the region. What many people may not know is that it’s also home to an award-winning cider distillery – Indigeny Reserve. The tasting rooms and cidery are situated right in the center of one of their orchards. Besides their world-class cider, you’ll also find apple brandy as well as fruit-infused vodkas to sample.
Mercer Caverns (Murphys)
There’s something otherworldly about caves. Maybe because they’re hundreds of feet below the surface or rather the unique types of things you’ll see. Things like stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones that you would never see above ground. Mercer Caverns, just down the road a bit from Murphys, is a MUST for anyone in the High Sierra. It’s home to a rare cavern formation called “flor ferri” and other indescribable types that you must see in person. Being the longest continually running commercial cave in the state of California, they have guest books signed by a hundred and twenty years of visitors!
Of course, you should visit the main attractions, but be sure to include a few of these unique places to visit in California High Sierra too. So, on your next trip, discover a different High Sierra that most would miss out on.
Author: Alex Silgalis
Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at https://localfreshies.com
Stay Up to Date
Join our mailing list for updates on hidden gems, events, and more from California's High Sierra.