On Highway 395 -> Let The Mountain Magic Begin!

What a show to begin our 395 drive!!

After an outstanding (and very memorable) summer in Oregon we’ve finally crossed the border and started our trip south to our winter spots in the SW. Although we’re sad to leave our fav state, we’re excited to be engaging in the next step of our journey.

This year, as we did last year, we’re taking Hwy 395 that snakes scenically through the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I gushed about this drive when we did it last time. It’s just one of those drives you have to do at least once (twice, fifty?) times in your life and I have no doubt it’s going to be just as amazing this time around.

We simply love this place! Our spot at Washoe Lake SP
Late afternoon glory by the lake

We arrived at our first stop on Monday dropping our jacks at spacious and relaxing Washoe Lake State Park, NV which is just as enchanting as I remember it. We were greeted by chirping birds, a luscious deep aroma of sage-brush (man, I wish WordPress had scratch and sniff!), and 360-degree views of mountains framed by dramatic tufts of clouds whipped up into long sculptures in the sky.

We got out our chairs, raised a glass and sat down to the most spectacular sunset theatre I’ve seen in a long time -> fiery arms of orange, transforming the entire sky into a burning color-play, reddening and darkening to a deep burgundy before a final release to the night. Oh MAN! We were totally captivated. Even Polly was frozen, although that may have had something to do with the warren of furry rabbits bouncing seductively all over the landscape….either way ALL of us were completely enchanted by the scene.

We are definitely happy to be here, and if the start to this journey is any indication of the rest, then it’s gonna be a helluva fabulous trip…let the mountain magic begin!!

A double-exposure of the sun’s last fall
Reflections of red in the RV. Pretty dramatic stuff!

Shows of orange in the sky
Yellow glow in the sage-brush
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. says

    Yes, Nina, sagebrush, ans sunsets. Something the west side of Oregon is often missing. Not many thunderstorms either, and sometimes I miss those. Your photos today made me want to head for the high desert and that gorgeous 395. Gorgeous. Thanks for the park review as well, I pinned it for future refeence.

    • libertatemamo says

      Are you guys south of us or travelling north? If there’s a chance we’ll cross paths lets meet up! We’re planning on spending next 2-3 weeks here in the mountains near Mammoth Lakes watching the fall color change.

  2. Karen Blaine says

    I have loved my visits to Oregon this year… one final post to go from there for me too. Oregon is fabulous as the is incredible diversity on the view around the next bend in the road… Love, Love, Love Oregon!!

  3. jil mohr says

    My favorite kind of photos…will have to try that drive someday…right now we are enjoying New Mexico…visiting some of your spots (thanks) and creating new ones as well as visiting old stand byes a truely under valued state…..

    • earthdancerimages says

      Jil, make sure you visit the beautiful ghost town of Chloride NM! Very nice campground FHU for $20 and just beautiful. Google it !

  4. says

    What fabulous photos Nina! We are headed to Washoe tomorrow after having received our long-awaited antennae. Can’t wait to check out this park given your description. Great post! :)

    • libertatemamo says

      What, no amp??? I’m gonna have to talk to that boy! But the antenna is a good start. Enjoy your time at Washoe and see you soon in the mountains!!

  5. says

    Where did you pickup 395? At 299/395 is a town, Alturus (Capitol of Modoc Co)that I spent some time in and a gorgeous small lake, called Blue Lake. A NFS lake and gorgeous. Lahonton Lake is a nice detour for fishing further south. Stayed at Washoe twice but from pix, it look improved!!! Great pictures, THANKS!!! Chuck n Grei m Hound Herd

    • libertatemamo says

      We picked it up at Susanville, further south via the 139 so unfortunately missed that area. BUT we’ll probably do this drive again and are planning to go further north on the 395, so I’ll add this one to the list.

  6. flyfishnevada says

    Just miles from where I grew up, Carson City, and you’ll drive about 20 minutes from my current home in Smith Valley. Consider taking Highway 208 18 miles south of MInden/Garnderville at Holbrook and then 338 in Smith Valley south to Bridgeport. It’s only about 20 minutes longer, but very scenic. Not to many services, but plenty of mountain views and the last 11 miles takes you along the East Walker River and the famous Miracle Mile below the dam of Bridgeport Reservoir. The trip from Holbrook Jct. to Bridgeport on 395 is pretty nice too.

    Glad you’re enjoying my back yard. It is pretty and Fall is the best season by far.

    • libertatemamo says

      Already over at June Lake so unfortunately missed this detour, but will add it to the driving list for next time!

  7. says

    Washoe Lake SP is lovely. I really like the first photo with the beautiful clouds in the sky. It looks so peaceful and calming there.

    Wishing you two a helluva fabulous trip!!!

    • libertatemamo says

      We felt really lucky to hit such a beautiful sunset our first night there. The area had high winds that morning so it whipped up the clouds into some great shapes!

    • libertatemamo says

      We’re at Oh Ridge! right now in fact. Just arrived yesterday. We’ve been wanting to come ever since I saw your pics of the place, and we’re very happy we did. Lovely spot!

  8. says

    A big WOW ! those captures are the best I have seen. It is still a toss whether to take 395 or another way going down south, since Steve prefers not to drive the same highway twice :( . We were on a road trip (not with our rig) on this highway from Death Valley to CA in January and it was beautiful then but it looks gorgeous now with the Fall season.
    We’ll see what happens for we are still in WA.

    • libertatemamo says

      Well if you’re going to CA then there’s really only 3 ways down -> 395, I-5 or 101 by the coast. I-5 is straight and horrible, but will get you there fast. 101 can be scenic at times and is my 2nd choice, but 395 definitely wins the prize. There’s so much to do here, you’ll never have the same experience twice!

      • says

        Agree on 395, I hope to win on the 395 route. I-5 and 101 is a big no for us since we lived in Central Valley, CA before. At the rate we are going we could be heading AZ first week of Nov. We will still be checking your referrals in Eugene :).

        • libertatemamo says

          Aiii…Nov on 395 could be tricky. Many of the FS sites close end of Oct here (I think some private parks stay open), and the weather can get unpredictable. We were here riiiight at the end of Oct last year and got some very cold nights (a few down in the teens). You’ll just have to check the weather before you drive over.

  9. says

    My favorite So Cal road, Hwy 395 of course I live not far from where it begins here in the high desert. Lot of great stuff to see, Don’t forget to stop at Shat’s bakery and the beef jerky store in Bishop!

  10. Joel and Rebecca says

    As always a perfectly written piece with to die for photos .I`ll bet you could make a junk yard look good.I had a few moments today,to sit and read as always inspired to get this place sold and get out of here.You guys make life seem soooo fun.Can`t wait to join ya.On the way down if you guys can check out Solvang ca Its near Santa Ynez .Nina being a dane and all you might enjoy it if anything google it cool town it`s off the 101 north of santa barbara theres a decent RV park there and a casino.Good Luck and Be Safe always Joel and Rebecca

    • libertatemamo says

      Hope you get on the road soon!! I’ve read about Solvang and thought about a visit. Not sure it’ll be on our path down this year, but it’s definitely on “the list”. See ya on the road!

      • says

        Hi. I grew up near Solvang, and it’s more Danish than Denmark! I am going “on the road” next Spring, and I really enjoy your blog……I am in the process of setting mine up………Dan

  11. Washoe Lake State Park says

    I just happened to come across your write up of Washoe Lake State Park. I am the Park Supervisor of Washoe Lake and am thrilled that you took the time to share your adventure and pictures of our wonderful park. It looks like you had a great time! Sorry I missed meeting you, but maybe I will see you next year.

    • libertatemamo says

      Lovely to “meet” you on the blog and thanks for taking the time to comment! This park is a little hidden gem. I’m so happy we discovered it and I’ve no doubt we’ll be back. Great area!

  12. says

    Hi Nina and Paul, I love following your movement around the west. I’m the Artist in Residence at Crater Lake National Park for the month of may 2015 and then I’m traveling across the country to my next gig at Acadia National Park in June. I see you reviewed Three Island state park in Idaho and may stop there as I head east. Do you have any experience with east of Wyoming? Places to camp/boondock/roadside?

    I’m going to follow your journey map on my drive from Durango to Zion to the Eastern Sierras and north to June Lake, Washoe Lake and on to Crater. Got ideas? Solo and dragging a 19 foot TT.

    • libertatemamo says

      Artist in Residence…how wonderful and super cool! Yes, we loooove Three Island Crossing, especially the upper loop. We have not actually explored much further East. We briefly stopped our first year in WY in Curt Gowdy State Park (which was lovely) and then we travelled from there to SD and the Black Hills where we stayed in Custer State Park (also lovely). But that’s about the extent of our experiences there. No boondocking unfortunately.

      For 395 you can’t go wrong following our steps and stops. If it’s too hot south just head on up to Mammoth. It may still be too early for many of the Mammoth campgrounds though. Many don’t open until May or even June.


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