This Sierra Nevada getaway is going through a rebirth, making it a prime destination for your next family vacation in the snow.
June Lake, California is the type of place that makes you feel like you’re privy to a secret frosty wonderland most travelers miss. Part of its unrecognized and underutilized nature is connected to lack of accommodations and eatery options. But that’s changing. The town is going through a renaissance.
A spirited group of locals, and folks-in-the-know who flocked to June with a desire to see it revived, are creating a town that offers restaurants with attention to deliciousness and quality, boutique accommodations, and venues for world-class live music, weddings, and conferences.
One thing they don’t have to tinker with (much) is the family-friendly June Mountain – the area’s ski area that's rarely crowded, and has a maze of groomed runs that can entertain any level of skier or snowboarder for days. It’s how we found June Lake.
Oh, and they also don’t have to worry about gussying up the surroundings. I’ll be so bold as to say it’s encircled by some of the most extraordinary sight you’ll ever see, even when compared to nearby Mammoth Mountain.
June Lake’s dynamic combo of authentic, laid-back vibes, a revival of its adorable downtown area, views that seem more like a painting than reality, and slopes that were made for families, has made it our go-to destination when we’re craving a cozy mountain getaway. We’ve celebrated many holidays and birthdays in the rustic cabins scattered around the edges of town.
To get a better taste for the past, present and future of June Lake, I met with local Jamie Schectman, who’s a member of the June Lake Chamber of Commerce, and owner of the Balanced Rock Saloon. Jamie is like a June Lake encyclopedia, and offered up trivia that provided a more well rounded view of my favorite secret-turning-not-so-secret Cali locale.
June Lake had its hey day in the 60s and 70s when celebrities would escape LA to recharge on June Mountain’s slopes.
Kids under 12 ski free at June Mountain!
Adult lift tickets are significantly cheaper at June Mountain than at Mammoth.
Locals don’t want June Lake to become an Aspen or Vail. They’re committed to maintaining the no-fuss, small-town vibes.
The June Lake Loop is 96% public land, essentially eliminating the risk of it turning into a commercialized, over-populated resort town.
The classic spot for a burger, the Tiger Bar, has been alive and kicking since 1932.
As it’s only 35-minutes from the east entrance of Yosemite, June Lake is a popular resting spot for those exploring this acclaimed national park.
The T-Bar Social Club (fashioned after Chicago speakeasies) pulls in Grammy award winners, and other big acts that typically play in massive venues. As June Lake is on the route between many major cities, it's easier for them to convince these performers to make a pit stop.
Come summer 2021, the Balanced Rock Saloon will be one of the most coveted event spaces in the area, as it’s being remodeled to accommodate over 300 people, and will feature a large, upscale bar, stage with a mezzanine sky walk above it, catering kitchen, massive deck with amazing views, and a bridal suite.
It’s in the works for June Mountain to get a new and improved ski lift to transport guests from the parking area to the lodge, and the base of many of the slopes. As the current glacial double lift is one of the only downsides of June Mountain, this would be a big win.
In the summer, activities like hiking Red’s Meadow to Rainbow Falls Overlook or Devil’s Postpile, paddle boarding or kayaking on June Lake, picnicking at June Lake Beach, water skiing on Grant Lake, and exploring Mono Lake are popular options.
During the summer, there are over 600 campsites available for use on the June Lake Loop.