I was invited about a week ago to attend a client's Holiday Party in Mammoth Lakes, CA. It is about a 5 hour drive door to door... and I best know the drive from the landmarks.
Since I don't really know the rout by roads... this is how I would describe it if you asked me in Vegas... "How do I get to Mammoth Lakes from here?"
"Well let me give you the locals route... not the MapQuest route... it will cut a little over an hour of the drive and a lot of the boredom. First you want to get on the Vegas beltway (215) or 95... whichever you are closer to and head north. If you take the beltway get off at 95 north and stay on that road for about 3 hours.
You will see such sites as Area 51 and Beatty, Nevada. Beatty is called the gateway to Death Valley... but I sometimes refer to it as the gateway to Southern Nevada Brothels such as Angel's Ladies, Shady Lady and The Cottontail Ranch... Once you get through Beatty these are the only landmarks you will see along the way... the rest is desert valley and mountains.
The Cottontail Ranch is the one you want to remember because that is where you want to take a left off of 95 North and head into the mountains. You will follow this road for some distance until you cross into California for a short bit and then head into Fish Lake Valley (look at the satellite image not the road map). After crossing the California border you will drive about 5-6 miles and come to a fork in the road... continue straight... not to the left.
There are several interesting things about this valley... the most obvious can be seen if you are driving in the spring or summer. There are huge and most often round alfalfa fields dotting the desert... everything will be desert brown except for giant round or semi circle patches that are a lush green. Most of them are round because of the irrigation system used... the long wheeled irrigation tubes that span the radius from a central pivot point constantly going around, creating an irrigated circle.
The other thing to look for is wild horses... you will be driving through open range for about 40 minutes and will more likely than not see wild horses in groups of 3 to 6... there is one gas station about half way across Fish Lake Valley in Dyer... but large taped off signs warning of ethenol in the gas warned me off of that fill up spot... I suppose it may not hurt the engine but why take the chance?? What other impurities might there be?
Eventually you will come to Route 6... the road you will have been traveling will end at route 6... take a left... this you will follow up over a small mountain range... through a ghost town (the state uses it to store highway utility vehicles now) and down into a valley and eventually to Benton. This is where you want to get gas! I have a 5.9 liter Dodge Durango R/T and make it this far with about an 8th of a tank... if you have something with worse gas mileage than a 5.9 liter v-8 then fuel up in Beatty too!
At the Benton service station you will take a right and travel through Benton Hot Springs and then upon reaching the top of the road... before you start your decent you will see a sign that reads Benton Crossing... take a left there and cross over some beautiful wilderness... once you reach the other side of the pass you will be at Lake Crowley... I have seen people fish the feeder rivers but haven't done it myself... yet... anyway keep following this road and eventually you will come to 395 and a lme green church on the left... take a right and 10 miles up the road is the exit to Mammoth Lakes... a great summer and winter destination"
The above photo is what greeted us as we pulled into Mammoth... ah it really felt like Christmas! Snow, lights what else could you ask for?? Well at that point I was thinking dinner... check in and check out the local eating establishments... We stayed at The Village... an Intrawest property... they have a pretty standard mold to their ski villages... Mammoth Lakes, Squaw Valley, Northstar, Beaver Creek and more... you always know what to expect and what you expect is a nice alpine style village with comfortable accommodations, shops and restaurants...
We Checked in and I noticed that a restaurant that had been under construction the last time I was here was now open... LuLu's... Upon entering the restaurant we immediately noted the upscale feel and the meal exceeded our expectations! However, before we were seated I ran into one of my clients in Mammoth, Sean of 8050 Mammoth, a Private Residence Club right next to the main gondola... he told me that the model was finished and that I should come by on Saturday.
After a nice dinner we thought we might go out by one of the fires in the village and enjoy some warmth on a cold winter evening and the company of strangers...