Running some 400 miles north to south through California’s Central Valley and Basin and Range Province, the Sierra Nevada mountain range is a truly geologically unique region.
The Eastern Sierra alone provides for a lifetime of exploration—a volcanically active caldera near Mammoth Lakes makes for fascinating topography and feeds innumerable geothermal hot springs, while the Big Pine Lakes area is home to the largest glacier in the Sierra Nevada, and impossibly turquoise waters.
The area’s distinct microclimates extend from the dry valley floor to arid scrublands, streamside woodlands, forests, rivers, glacial lakes, and jagged peaks in the high alpine. This otherworldly combination of geologic and environmental factors creates an area unlike any other I’ve been, where desert sharply rises to meet soaring peaks in an area that contains both the highest and lowest elevations in the contiguous United States.
"This otherworldly combination of geologic and environmental factors creates an area unlike any other."
Living in Los Angeles, the region is only a stone’s throw away—amazingly—affording my friends and I the opportunity to venture into the Eastern Sierra on many occasions during the course of the past year, exploring some of the many gems tucked away off the 395.
From car-accessed scrambling minutes off the highway to multi-day backpacking trips that access pristine alpine lakes, this series of images serves as a highlight reel of recent explorations, featuring the areas immediately surrounding the towns of Lone Pine and Mammoth Lakes, the Big Pine Lakes, and Minaret Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.
Now to find time for the Western side...