Recreation in the Eastern Sierra
Throughout its history Independence has been
highly regarded as a recreational destination. Outdoor Recreation opportunities in the
Independence area are plentiful to say the least. Independence and the Eastern High Sierra
offer a paradise for outdoor recreation enthusiasts of all ages and interests.
Below you will find a sample of the most
popular recreation opportunities. Keep in mind this is only a sample. The only
real limit to what this area has to offer is your own imagination.
Independence and its surrounding area provide fishing enthusiasts
with a vast number of both warm and cold water fisheries. Stream
fishing for trout in Independence Creek and waters to its south
opens on the first Saturday in March, more than a month before
the general trout season for the Eastern Sierra. This fact makes
getting a jump on your Spring fishing a great opportunity. Warm
water fish such as Largemouth Bass can be caught in the Lower
Owens River area East of town.
Independence Creek Campground
Inyo County Parks and Recreation, Pit toilets, Piped water, 25 sites, RV length restriction = 30feet, Open all year.
Located on the edge of town. From U.S. 395 turn west on Market Street (Onion Valley Rd.).
Convenient to town, this campground offers easy access to the downtown area of Independence.
Call (760) 873-5577 for more information.
Inyo County Campgrounds
Get more information about Inyo County campgrounds by calling (760) 873-5577.
Grays Meadow (upper and lower)
U.S.D.A. Forest Service, 52 sites, flush toilets and clean piped well water are supplied, reservable. A number of sites will accommodate large RV's. RV length restriction = 22 feet.
Grays Meadow Campground is located 6 miles west of town. From
U.S. 395 turn west on Market Street ( Onion Valley Road). Proceed past the
County campground on the west edge of town and follow the road for 6
Most of the campground is located in a large oak grove.
Independence Creek flows through the entire length of the campground and Grays
Meadow has long been know as a popular destination for Trout fishing. The
California Department of Fish and Game plants rainbow trout (including their
"Trophy" size fish) in the creek at several points within the
campground. The camp grounds are open from March 16 to October 15 subject to weather conditions. Reservations are available. Click
here for online reservations
U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Chemical Toilets (upgraded to modern vaults in Fall 2001),
Piped Water, 29 sites, (some walk in), Reservable. Open June 2 through October 1. No RV's.
Located 13 miles west of town. From U.S. 395
turn west on Market Street (Onion Valley Rd.). follow the road past Grays Meadow
Campground to the road end. Proceed past the Kearsarge Pass trail head and
through the gate into the campground.
Located at 9,600 ft. Onion Valley is
literally on the edge of the John Muir Wilderness. The popular Kearsarge Pass
trail begins at the entrance to the campground and several alpine lakes are
within day hiking distance. Rainbow, Eastern Brook, and Golden Trout can be
caught in the area. Mt. Whitney Climbers often spend several nights at
Onion Valley to acclimatize to altitude and prepare for Whitney.
Reservations are available. Click
here for online reservations
Located along beautiful Oak Creek, this locally owned campground has spaces for R.V., auto,
and tent camping. Full R.V. hookups and dump station are available. Most sites have power and water. Some pull through sites are available. Fully shaded sites are also available. Showers are available to campers and non-campers. An interpretive trail and native plant garden are available for your enjoyment.
Located just 3 miles north of town, Fort Independence Campground welcomes all visitors. From U.S. 395 look for the sign and entrance on the west side of the highway just north of the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery road.
For more information contact Fort Independence Reservation by phone at (760) 937-3150 or (760) 878-5155.
Independence is the gateway to
a number of world class mountain climbing
experiences. The skyline to the West of town is
dominated by several well known "Fourteeners".
The most obvious is Mt. Williamson. Often
mistaken for Mt. Whitney by the unfamiliar due to
the fact that it is the highest visible point for
many miles around, Mt. Williamson rises to an
impressive 14,375 ft. making it the second highest peak in California, a scant 121 ft.
shorter than Mt. Whitney. Not recommended for
beginners due to the lack of a maintained climbing
route, Mt. Williamson is nonetheless a desirable
challenge to Mountaineers. Other prominent peaks
in the area include:
Mt. Brewer 13,570 FT.
Charlotte Dome 10,690 FT.
Mt. Clarence King 12,905 FT.
North Guard 13,327 FT.
Central Peak 12,760 FT.
Mt. Gardiner 12,907 FT.
Dragon Peak 12,955 FT.
Junction Peak 12,955 FT.
Mt. Williamson 14,375 FT.
Mt. Tyndall 14,018 FT.
Independence is the main point of entry into the spectacular back
country of Kings Canyon National Park and the Kern Divide. The
Kearsarge Pass Trail beginning at Onion Valley is one of the main
access points for the John Muir Trail and The Pacific Crest
Trail. Onion Valley is also an alternative route used to access
Major trail heads in the area
Golden Trout Lake
George Creek( Mt. Williamson)
Alternative access to Mt. Whitney is
available from the Kearsarge Pass Trail which has its own quota of permits
issued for backcountry travel to the Whitney Zone. Here is a short description
of the trip:
Kearsarge Pass to Mt. Whitney-53 Miles
The route begins at Onion
Valley, West of the town of Independence. The trail climbs past Gilbert
and Big Pothole lakes, past the Kearsarge and Bullfrog Lakes to the Junction
With The PCT/JMT. Following the trail south through Vidette Meadow and
along Bubbs Creek to Forrester Pass. Passing Diamond Mesa and crossing Tyndall Creek the
trail passes Bighorn Plateau and from near the crossing at Wright Creek the Summit of Mt Whitney
can be seen to the east. From Wallace Creek the trail continues south through Sandy Meadow and turns
east to the Crabtree Ranger Station. Form the Ranger Station the JMT continues
past Guitar and Hitchcock Lakes to Trail Crest. North 1.9 miles is the
Summit of Mt Whitney. Returning to trail crest and down the "96" switchbacks
the Mt. Whitney trail leads east to Trail Camp and out at Whitney Portal.
Courtesy of sierrawilderness.com
Numerous off road trails of every level exist in the Independence area. From leisurely cruises along the
Owens River to the extreme rides of Mazourka Canyon in the Inyo Mountains
and the Sierra Nevada Front Country.
Another activity that has always been popular around Independence since Pioneer days
is exploring the vast expanses of publicly owned land. Locked gates and
"no trespassing" signs are rare. Canyons, ravines, meadows,
desert flats, Pinyon pine forest and historical sites known by only the
few who have ventured there await the modern day explorer. It is actually
unusual to see another person at all once you get a few miles off the
popular track. Some of these remote places have scarcely seen a footprint
in 100 years. Archeological and petroglyph sites, some dating back
thousands of years, are scattered around Independence. New ones are
still being discovered to this day. Mines and town sites dating back to
the gold rush era are to be found in various stages of decay. Gold as well
as other interesting and valuable minerals can even be found in many
places in the Inyo Mountains and placer gold can still be found in Independence Creek. Geological features like
lava tubes which extend into the earth are located in the Inyo Mountains North of town.
4 Wheel Drive and Off Road Vehicles
Much of the surrounding Sierra
front country as well as numerous roads and trails in the Inyo and White mountains
are open to 4 wheel drive, ATV, motorcycle, and off highway vehicles. There are
literally hundreds of miles of dirt roads, double track and even some single track.
Off road enthusiasts will find plenty of space to roam.
long been renowned for Big Game, Waterfowl, and Upland Bird hunting. A
major deer migration area of the Sierra front country, Independence has, and
continues to provide deer hunters with bucks worth bragging about. Fall
Dove, Quail, Chukar, and Sage Grouse seasons also draw their share of
sportsmen. Winter brings Duck, Canada Goose and Snow Goose to the area and
each season has its own enthusiastic following. Many Hunters take
advantage of all three seasons and participate in rabbit season as well.
It is possible to hunt for something any time of the year here. Naturally
you can hunt all of these animals with camera and lens as well.
Tule Elk (special hunt)
- Valley Quail
Ducks and Teal (various species of each)
Rock Hounding South Along Hwy. 395
Independence - East on Colosuim Rd. , 3 miles - follow power lines 5 miles, South
2 miles to Crystal Ridge, continue into Inyo Mountains.
Minerals found - Clear and Smokey Quartz, Amethyst with red tint,
Hematite, Snail Fossils.
Kearsarge - 10 miles -
Turn West on Market St. in Independence. Minerals found - Wulfenite,
Jasper, Turquoise, Hematite.
Mazourka Canyon - 20 miles - East on Mazuourka Canyon Rd. Many mines. Minerals
found - Green Dendrite, Opalite.
Cerro Gordo - 35 miles
- Turn East at Lone Pine to Keeler, into mountains. Minerals
found - Gold, Silver, Amazonite, Opalite.
Lone Pine - 20 miles -
Turn East on road past railroad station, cross river, to next
railroad, turn South 1/2 mile to Kern Knob Gem Valley. Minerals
found - Crystals, Obsidian, Beryl, Orthoclase.
Owenyo - 35 miles -
East of Lone Pine. Minerals found - Barite, Fossils, Pink
Keeler - 35 miles -
East of Lone Pine to Jackass, Dobbs and Goldbelt Springs.
Minerals found - Azurite, Malechite, Galena, Anhydrite, Silver, Gold,
Quartz, Chalcopyrite, Talc, Anglesite, Stibnite.
Darwin - 45 miles -
Turn East at Lone Pine on Hwy. 136. Go 12 miles. Minerals
found - Iceland Spar, Garnets, Wulfenite, Erussite.
Darwin Mines - 45 miles
- Turn East on Hwy. 190 at Olancha, go 5 miles South to Ophir
Mountain, many mine dumps. Minerals found - Scheelite, Pyrite,
Iceland Spar, Silver. Over 60 minerals available.
Lee Mines - 45 miles -
Turn East on Hwy. 190 at Olancha, go 7 miles. Minerals found -
Lazurite, Agate, Jasper, Chalcedomy, Obsidian.
Kennedy Meadows - 50
miles - Turn West at Lone Pine. Minerals found - Agate, Quartz.
There are no limits to the possibilities for outdoor recreation in the Independence Area.
Bird Watchers from all over the world come here in spring and fall since the Owens Valley is a major migration route
for a large number of migratory birds. Hang Gliders from all over the world consider the Sierra Front Country one of the
best hang gliding areas in the world and several distance and duration records have been set here.
A sample of other outdoor activities must include the following:
Cross Country Skiing
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