Route 395: Manzanar

Manzanar was a World War II Japanese Internment Camp located on Route 395 between Lone Pine and Independence California.  I had the opportunity to spend some time in the visitor’s center and took many pictures.  I also watched the video that I posted below.  Please watch the video as it tells many stories of these poor people who had everything taken from them just because of their ancestry.  Although this is a beautiful area, the climate can be difficult.  The living quarters were hastily slapped together and did not always shield the inhabitants from the harsh elements.  Over 11,000 Japanese Americans were processed through Manzanar. 

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This is a model of what the camp used to look like.  Only a few buildings remain.

This is a model of what the camp used to look like.  Only a few buildings remain.

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This is a list of all the people who lived at Manzanar.

This is a list of all the people who lived at Manzanar.

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Eight people were assigned to each living area which measured 20x25 feet. 

Eight people were assigned to each living area which measured 20x25 feet. 

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This is the Manzanar cemetery.   135  people died at Manzanar,  28  were buried in Manzanar's cemetery. 

This is the Manzanar cemetery.  135 people died at Manzanar, 28 were buried in Manzanar's cemetery. 

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For more information about Manzanar, click the link below to visit their website.

https://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm

Route 395: Lone Pine and Mount Whitney

Route 395 must suffer the fate of the middle child.  On one side, you have two of the most legendary sites in the US National Park system in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.  On the other, you have one of the largest parks in the National Park system that has the lowest point in North America.  Yosemite is quite possibly the most photographed location in the United States.  Tunnel view, Yosemite Valley and places like Hetch Hetchy, Tuolumne Meadow and Tenaya Lake on the Tioga Road are a photographer’s idea of heaven on earth.  Sequoia National Park boasts the largest trees on earth that can live over 3000 years. 

Death Valley National Park contains Badwater Basin which is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.  It is the hottest, driest and lowest National Park.  The hottest temperature in world history, 134 degrees, was recorded at (fittingly named) Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913.  Death Valley NP is a massive 3.4 million acres and contains everything from mountains to sand dunes to caves and even snow in the winter. 

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Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

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With these two areas containing such marvels, what is left for the Route 395 corridor?  The view.  The view from this valley is better than what you will see if you are in Yosemite and Sequoia NP’s.  The eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains is the best view for these scenic wonders.  There is a collection of lakes cradled in the nooks of these majestic mountains.  I’ve driven this road in the summer and winter.  I highly recommend a trip during the winter months through this area.  The snow and ice accentuate the crags in the mountains.  Millions of years of abuse by the wind, rain, snow and ice have left these mountains with scars of beauty.  Roads snake their way through the foothills and make an ascent to the top rather manageable.  Warning: if you want to climb Mount Whitney, which is the highest peak in the lower 48 states, you must get a permit. 

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There are dozens of campgrounds which are either at the base or located partially up the mountainsides.  If travelling during the winter and early spring months, be careful of rock slides and debris on the road.  As the snow and ice start to melt, it dislodges rocks and dirt which create rockslides which can cause damage to people, cars and the roads.  Many of the roads and campgrounds partially up the mountains are closed during the winter but you can still drive a considerable way before a gate will block the road.  Make sure that you don’t go too far off the beaten path.  Some roads might only consist of dirt and gravel.  There are few visitors to some of these areas during the winter so, if you get stuck, you could get yourself in deep trouble.  Always be safe out there. 

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The Alabama Hills are at the foot of the Whitney Portal Road.  Collections of huge rocks have settled here and provide a unique scenery.  There are roads that twist and turn through the rock formations.  Shadows fall between the precarious round curves and sharp edges of the rocks.  They form a fascinating welcome mat to the gorgeous mountains that stare down at them.  I wonder what they say to each other when we are not around?

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Have you visited Mount Whitney?  What was your experience like?  Click the link below for more information about Mount Whitney.

https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/whitney.htm

Route 395: Red Rock State Park to Lone Pine

A couple of years ago, I decided to drive through Yosemite National Park on the Tioga Road (which is only open during the summer) and drive south on Route 395.  Looking at the map to prepare for my trip made me think that this could be a very scenic drive.  On my right were the Sierra Nevada mountains which were seeing pockets of rain showers, clouds and fog covering various peaks.  It made for some breathtaking photos even though my Ipad was not the best camera to capture the moment.  I vowed to return in the winter to see if the snow and ice would showcase the jagged edges of the mountains more dramatically.  I was not disappointed. 

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This time, I decided to start driving from the south.  My journey began with Red Rock Canyon State Park.  This is a small park which offers camping spots for tents and RV’s.  It is a beautiful location and has two main areas of interest with Route 14 splitting these areas in half.  Route 14 merges with Route 395 if you drive north about 20 miles.  At that intersection, you start to see the Sierra Nevada mountains on your left and the mountains of Death Valley National Park on your right.  Although the drive to Lone Pine shouldn’t take very long, your urge to stop and take hundreds of pictures of the various angles of the mountains will keep you moving at a snail’s pace.  It’s worth every second. 

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After an early blue sky day, snow clouds moved in and began to dust the Sierra Nevada mountains at various areas in the range.  

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Off to the right, Owens Lake will appear.  If during the winter and early spring, there might be a fog cloud over the water. 

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Finally, at Lone Pine, your breath will officially be taken away.  The landscape just got serious.  Mount Whitney is an impressive sight to see.  It is the highest point in the lower 48 states and is accompanied by jagged peaks on its flank.  Lone Pine is the kind of place that you aren’t sure where to look because you are surrounded by such impressive mountains to the east and west.  But this is just the first leg of the journey.  There are many winding roads, partially frozen lakes and massive mountains to come. 

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Have you driven through the Owens Valley?  What was your experience like?  What is your favorite location?  For more information about Red Rock Canyon State Park, click the link below.

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=631

Monument Valley

Driving south on Route 191 from Moab, UT and the spectacular Canyonland and Arches National Parks is a continuation of beautiful landscapes.  There are few people on these roads and just a few small towns on the way to Monument Valley.  Sacred Native American lands run through these areas and provide centuries of history. 

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