Rock Creek, California is a beautiful Eastern Sierra backcountry canyon in the John Muir Wilderness for bicycling, hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, rock climbing, cross country skiing snowshoeing – and even fine dining!
When to visit
Spring, summer, winter and fall. Expect high alpine conditions, i.e., be prepared for any kind of weather!
It’s easy to get to Rock Creek
Rock Creek is located on the west side of Highway 395 at Rock Creek Road. This 20-mile valley is easy to find between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, California, at a turnoff from Highway 395 at the exit for Tom’s Place. Once you begin the ascent along the 10-mile paved road into gorgeous creekside terrain, the options for summer and winter outdoor recreation unfold before you. Rock Creek Canyon is famous for Little Lakes Basin, where a string of high-elevation lakes are linked by leisurely hiking trails surrounded by 13,000 foot peaks.
Rock Creek Hiking
Park at the road’s end to see the best of Rock Creek on foot. Expect blazing colors in fall – some of the brightest anywhere in the Eastern Sierra – as well as wildflowers in spring and sparkling lakes in summer. Dogs are ok on a leash. Little Lakes Trail: Also known as Mosquito Flats trail, the Little Lakes Trail is a beautiful and popular hike at the top of upper Rock Creek Canyon, accessed by the main signed trail leading from the parking lot at the road's end. With the potential to hike to Mono Pass, four miles and 2,000 feet up, many hikers simply stop to take in the views after reaching one of the lakes along the way: Mack Lake, Marsh Lake, Heart Lake, Box Lake, Long Lake, Gem Lake and Chickenfoot Lake. The trail offers dramatic views of surrounding Sierra peaks, excellent wildflowers in spring and early summer, and vibrant fall colors. Popular with fishermen and day hikers.
Dining & Lodging in Rock Creek
Lodging, general stores, and food services are offered at three resorts, one of which operates as a cross-country ski lodge during the winter.
Tom’s Place: At the intersection of Hwy. 395, Tom’s Place was built in 1917 by German Hans Lof, who supplied passers-by with gas, food, and warm beds. The years have been good to the homestead, now a must-stop for French dip sandwiches, comfy cabins and the inside line on local fishing. Home to a classic car show every Labor Day.
Winter Adventure Dining with Rock Creek Lodge: December through March, cross country ski or hitch a snowmobile ride several miles into a nighttime winter wonderland to share a fun, family-style meal among friends new and old.
Rock Creek Lakes Resort: It’s the homemade pies, offered in summer, that are the perfect end to a perfect hike.
Camping in Rock Creek
Campgrounds include Iris Meadow Campground, Rock Creek Lake Campground, Holiday Campgrounds, Tuff Campground, Pine Grove Campground and Palisade Campground. Some sites are first-come, first-served, and others can be reserved online at Recreation.gov, or by calling Toll-Free 877-444-6777.
Mountain Bike 2,000 Vertical Feet in Lower Rock Creek
Lower Rock Creek is a technical single-track trail and is considered one of the area’s best mountain biking trails. The ride begins just below Hwy 395's junction with Lower Rock Creek Road, south of Tom's Place. An obvious parking area is present near the trailhead and a sign exists marking the beginning of the ride. The upper two sections of the ride are fun, fast single-track that is not overly technical. The trail crosses the road in a couple of sections. The third section is much more technical and rocky, and ends in Paradise on Lower Rock Creek Road. Leave a car in Paradise for a shuttle back to the top parking area. Best in spring, summer and fall. 8 miles for all three sections; moderate to difficult.
Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing
The Rock Creek Sno-Park is operated by California State Parks and White Mountain Ranger District - (760) 873-2500 in winter months (approximately Dec. – March). Bring $5 cash with you for day use parking fee.