Description - The High Sierra is waves of bare granite sculpted by sun, snow, and rain under the tutelage of time. Along the western slopes of the Sierra are bejeweled national parks, whitewater rivers, and charming gateway towns like Mariposa and Groveland. To the east are deep blue-eyed lakes, challenging ski resorts, and Western towns-like Bishop-that are famous for their fairs and wild-west rodeos.
Copyright: California State Parks
"Tufa towers" in Mono Lake Tufa SRA
- The High Sierra is a recreational playground. In the north is Lake Tahoe, with its clear, blue waters that are perfect for cruising in an antique wooden speedboat, as well as its miles of ski trails, which welcome mountain bikers in the summer. In the southern Sierra the Kern River is frothy and turbulent, just screaming for a little whitewater rafting. In between is Yosemite, a place that's spectacular yearround and an uncrowded treasure from September through December, when oaks and sycamores reveal their fall colors before losing their leaves completely as the park's quiet valley meadows are dusted with snow. Just south of Yosemite, near Oakhurst, are Bass and Huntington Lakes, which lure fishermen, waterskiers, and campers alike throughout the summer months.
Two other national parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, hug the Sierra's western slopes. Sequoia is home to impressive stands of some of the largest trees in the world, including the General Sherman Tree, the world's largest living plant. Adjacent Kings Canyon is a backpacker's haven of jagged peaks and rugged canyons, the latter carved by the incomparable and turbulent Kings River.
Much of the eastern side of the Sierra is in a rain shadow, which means it's drier, though you'd never guess that by looking at Mammoth Mountain. In fact, Mammoth gets such prodigious amounts of snow every winter that skiing frequently continues into July.
Farther south is Bishop, a typical Western town with numerous tackle stores to service anglers looking to catch trophy trout in the dozens of streams and lakes nearby. And ranching towns such as Independence and Lone Pine have long been popular film locations for western movies; today the area celebrates its rich Hollywood heritage every fall with a film festival.
Recreation - Popular activities in this region of endless outdoor recreation opportunities include: swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, climbing, mountaineering, hiking, road biking, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, picnicking, and camping.
Climate - The High Sierra generally experiences mild to warm, dry summers and cool to cold winters, with heavy snowfall. Sunshine is normally abundant, even during the winter months. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. A snowpack from 5-10 feet or more is usually present from December to May at elevations above 6,500 feet. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.
The High Sierra Region, located in east-central California, encompasses the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It stretches westward from the Nevada border, from the Lake Tahoe area, south to Kernville. The main highways accessing this region are 50 running east/west and 395 running north/south.