Just across the freeway from Mono Lake, the Tioga Lodge (54411 Hwy. 395, 760/647-6423, www.tiogalodgeatmonolake.com, $133–165) boasts an astonishing view of the lake from every room. This older lodge at the center of the town of Lee Vining offers the perfect location for sightseeing and outdoor adventures, plus heated rooms and comfortable beds.
Guest rooms are simple and uniquely decorated, each with tile floors and a full private bath. Some rooms sleep two, others up to four in two-bedroom suites are perfect for families. Don’t expect to find TVs or other digital entertainment here—in keeping with the area, you’re encouraged to get outside to find your entertainment. Friendly, helpful staff can assist with everything from room amenities to local restaurants to great places to visit in the area.
At the intersection of Highways 120 and 395, stay at the comfortable and affordable Lake View Lodge (51285 Hwy. 395, Lee Vining, 800/990-6614, www.lakeviewlodgeyosemite.com, $138–220). This aptly named lodge offers both motel rooms and cottages. The cottages can be rented in the summer only, but the motel rooms are available all year.
Whether you choose a basic room for only a night or two, or a larger accommodation with a kitchen for more than three days, you’ll enjoy the simple country-style decor, the outdoor porches, and the views of Mono Lake. All rooms have TVs with cable and Internet access is available. Pick up supplies at the local market for a picnic on the lawns of the lodge, get yourself a latte at the on-site coffee shop, or enjoy one of the nearby restaurants in Lee Vining.
Named for its location only 14 miles from Yosemite’s east gate, the Yosemite Gateway Motel (51340 Hwy. 395, 760/647-6467, www.yosemitegatewaymotel.com, $143–154) offers a charming rustic experience for travelers to the Eastern Sierra. The red and white exterior echoes in the decoration of the guest rooms, supplemented with gleaming wood, new furnishings, and clean bathrooms. A TV and the Internet provide entertainment on chilly evenings, and of course the wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities of the Eastern Sierra are just outside the door.
Enjoy your crystalline views of Mono Lake, or take a day trip to Bodie or indulge in some skiing at Mammoth Lakes or June Lake. Room rates are deeply discounted in the wintertime, making the trek worth the effort.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition