Bed and Breakfast in Independence CA Bed and Breakfast in Independence CA
Bed and Breakfast in Independence CA Bed and Breakfast in Independence CA

Bed and Breakfast in Independence CA

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Welcome to Independence - The Gateway To Discovery!
(The content on this page is provided by the Indepencence Chamber of Commerce)

Located on scenic Highway 395, Independence sits in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the beautiful Owens Valley. Independence is on your way to or from Los Angeles, Mammoth Mountain, Mono Lake and Reno.

Independence is the gateway to Mt. Whitney, John Muir Wilderness, Bristlecone Pine Forest and Death Valley. Local recreational opportunities abound including Fishing, Camping, RV'ing and Hiking, just to name a few.

While you are here:

Area Attractions:

Numerous scenic wonders are within easy driving distance of Independence.
Here is a list of just a few:

John Muir Wilderness
The John Muir Wilderness encompasses more than one-half million acres within the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. It extends almost 100 miles along the crest of the Sierra Nevada in Central California. Elevations range from 5,000 to 14,495 ft. (!) on Mt. Whitney . The John Muir Wilderness is characterized by deep canyons, meadows and many streams and lakes. This wilderness was named after the famous naturalist John Muir, who led the effort to protect what he referred to as "the most beautiful of all the mountain chains", the Sierra Nevada.

The John Muir Wilderness contains hundreds of miles of trails. Three of the more well known are the Pacific Crest, John Muir and Mt. Whitney trails. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) extends 2,620 miles from Canada to Mexico. The John Muir Trail (JMT) extends 212 miles from Mt. Whitney on the south to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley on the north. The JMT and the PCT follow the same route in most places within John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. The 10.7 mile Mt. Whitney Trail begins at Whitney Portal, near Lone Pine, and leads to the highest peak in the Lower 48 states.

Wilderness travel is by foot or horseback ONLY. Wheelchairs may be used in wilderness, but all other mechanical travel, including bicycles, is prohibited. Winter offers an entirely different experience. Skis and snowshoes become the mode of transportation. Pets are not permitted in National Park wilderness and are under some restriction in National Forest wilderness.
Maximum group size is 15 people and 25 head of stock.

Permit Requirements:
Wilderness visitor permits are required winter and summer, for entry into the John Muir and adjoining Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park National Forest and National Parks wilderness areas for overnight or longer trips. Permits are available at the Forest or Park Service Ranger Station closest to the trailhead entry location. During heavy use periods many popular trails are subject to a quota, where a set number of people may enter the wilderness each day. Quotas are designed to protect the resources and preserve the solitude of the visitor. If the daily quota has been filled for the trailhead desired, options include picking another available entrance point or starting on a different day.

Leave No Trace:
The John Muir Wilderness is a heavily visited area. Over the years thousands of people have enjoyed, and in some instances, damaged the resources. By practicing Minimum Impact techniques, you will make it hard for others to know you were there.

For More Information:

East side entry above Independence:
Inyo National Forest
Mt.Whitney Ranger Station P.O. Box 8 Lone Pine, CA 93545 (760) 876 6200

East side entry McGee Creek south to Big Pine:
Inyo National Forest White Mountain Ranger Station 798 N. Main St. Bishop, CA 93514
(760) 873-2500

East side entry north of McGee Creek to Mammoth:
Inyo National Forest Mammoth Lakes Visitor Center & Ranger Station P.O. Box 148
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 (760) 924-5500

West side entry:
Sierra National Forest Pineridge Ranger Station P.O. Box 559 Prather, CA 93651
(559) 855-5360

Descriptions courtesy of

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Ancient Bristlecone Pines
High on windswept ridges in the White Mountains east of Bishop, live the world's oldest known trees - the ancient bristlecone pines.

Some of these trees were growing when the Egyptians built the pyramids over four-thousand years ago. These trees that botanists call Pinus longaeva (long-lived pine) are protected for public enjoyment and their great value to science.

Open daily from Memorial Day through October, weather permitting. The Schulman Grove site includes picnic areas, restrooms, outdoor exhibits and two self-guided nature trails. Driving time from Independence to Schulman Grove is approximately 60 minutes on paved roads. Take HWY 168 east 12 miles from Big Pine to White Mtn Road. Turn left and drive ten miles to the Schulman Grove Visitor Center. The Bristlecone Pines can be viewed from the parking area of the visitor center and along two nature trails.

The Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center is usually open mid-May through November 1st. The center is the interpretive focal point for the oldest living trees in the world, the Bristlecone Pines. The interpretive center has exhibits, a natural history sales area, self-guided interpretive trails, and rangers on duty. The interpretive program with a ranger on the patio outside of the visitor center is an excellent introduction to the history and significance of these trees. The area also has restrooms, picnic tables, hiking trails, and a nearby campground. The Bristlecone Pine Forest is located at 10,000 feet so visitors are urged to come prepared for just about any weather conditions and to bring your own water. Sunscreen and a hat are also recommended.

Beyond Schulman Grove lies the Patriarch Grove. This second grove is a 12 mile drive north of Schulman Grove on a good-quality dirt road. Near tree line, the grove is the home of the world's largest Bristlecone Pine, the Patriarch Tree. Its splendid remoteness and moonscape appearance gives the Patriarch Grove a surreal atmosphere. Bristlecone pines and limber pines dot the area with a background view of the Great Basin in Nevada. Patriarch Grove is a favorite location for filming and photography in the early morning light. Picnic tables, restrooms (pit toilet), and a self-guided nature trail are available. A visit to Schulman Grove and Patriarch Grove is possible in the same day if you can get an early start.

Schulman Grove is Recreation Fee Demonstration Project. The fees collected are used to open the visitor center earlier in the spring and later in the fall, provide seven-day staffing, and extended hours. The cost is $2.00 per adult to a maximum of $5.00 per vehicle; kids under 18 are free; Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Access Passes are accepted. Fees are collected at the visitor center during operating hours or at a self-service fee tube near parking area.

Visitors can call a recorded line for up-to-date information on the visitor center, road conditions, and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest: (760) 873-2500.

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Mammoth Mountain
Just over 90 minutes to the north the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area/Mountain Bike Park (summer) is easily reachable from Independence for those who wish to enjoy Mammoth as well as the comparatively inexpensive and tranquil atmosphere in Independence after a days fun on the slopes.
Mammoth Mountain's Official Website

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Mt. Whitney
The main trail accessing Mt Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous U.S. 14,494 ft., is probably the most heavily used wilderness trail in the country, if not the world. With thousands of visitors each year the human impact on Mt. Whitney and the surrounding area presents some unusual problems to the agencies responsible for that part of the John Muir Wilderness.

An area designated by the U.S. Congress as wilderness is off limits to mechanical
or motorized equipment and that creates some serious limitations to wilderness
managers who are charged with protecting the area while still providing access to
as many visitors as possible. Human waste alone is a huge problem because the
high altitude alpine environment cannot sustain the volume of body waste generated
by thousands of visitors each year. Even the simple act of walking on the trail
becomes a big issue when multiplied by tens of thousands.

The Mt. Whitney Trail and other trails accessing the Whitney Zone are under a
special series of quota restrictions. The main Whitney Trail is the only trail on the
Inyo National Forest that requires a day hike permit and limits the number of those
permits to 150 people per day. Over night Permits are required year round and are
subject to a limit of 50 people per day from May 15th to November 1st each year.

Onion Valley located at the end of Onion Valley Road is the start of the most popular alternative route to Mt. Whitney. Permits for this trip are much easier to obtain than permits for the main Mt. Whitney Trail.

For More Information on Mt. Whitney Contact:
Mt. Whitney Ranger Station
640 S. Main St./P.O. Box 8 Lone Pine, CA 93545
Ph: (760) 876-6200 - Fax (760) 876-6202

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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.

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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 (March 5, 2005), 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.

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Independence 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.

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 miles.

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

Oak Creek
U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Vault Toilets, Piped Water, 28 Sites

Located 5 miles northwest of town. From U.S. 395 turn west on Fish Hatchery Rd. and follow the road past the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery. Stay on the right fork of the road which follows the north fork of Oak Creek. Turn left into the campground at the gate.

Once a very popular campground, Oak creek has been largely overlooked since The California Department of Fish and Game ceased planting fish in the north fork of Oak Creek. Even so it is still possible to catch wild rainbows in the creek. Several sites are located on the banks of the creek. The low amount of visitation Oak Creek receives makes it a very quiet and secluded recreation site. Convenient to town, it is a good choice for those looking to "get away from it all" with out having to go a long way off the beaten track. Some sites will accommodate large RV's. RV length limit = 22 feet. Reservations are not required. Open all year.
For more information email the Chamber of Commerce at

Onion Valley
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.

Fort Independence
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 5 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 at (760) 878-3200. Look for the new web page at the end of June 2005.

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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.

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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 Mt. Whitney.

Major trail heads in the area include:
Kearsarge Pass
Robinson Lake
Golden Trout Lake
George Creek( Mt. Williamson)
Baxter Pass
Shepherd Pass

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

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Mountain Biking
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.

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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.

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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.

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Independence has 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.

Big Game animals include:

  • Black Bear
  • Tule Elk (special hunt)
  • Deer

Upland Birds Include:

  • Valley Quail
  • Mountain Quail
  • Dove
  • Chukar
  • Sage Grouse

Waterfowl Include:

  • Canada Goose
  • Snow Goose
  • Ducks and Teal (various species of each)
  • Snipe

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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 Orthoclase.

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.

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Other Activities
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:

Nature Photography
Bird Watching
Cross Country Skiing

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Current Weather in Independence, CA:

Winnedumah Hotel - Bed & Breakfast
(Across the street from the Inyo County Courthouse)
211 N. Edwards St., Independence, CA
(760) 878-2040

Email the Hotel
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 189, Independence CA, 93526

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Bed and Breakfast in Independence CA