June Lake is one of the most stunning nature spots in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is known as the “Switzerland of California” because of its shimmering lakes, crisp mountain air, and majestic alpine scenery.
The tranquil mountain town has four glistening lakes, several scenic drives, many peaceful nature trails, and breathtaking vistas. You can take a trip here any time of the year, and there are plenty of things to do in June Lake, no matter the season.
You can enjoy various winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter. In the summer, you can swim, kayak, or paddleboard in the lake, and in the shoulder seasons, you can go hiking, fishing, or mountain biking.
Best Things to Do in June Lake
These incredible things to do and see in June Lake include many all-year-round attractions and some seasonal activities, so make sure to read all the way through!
Planning a trip to California? Bookmark the other California destination guides!
1. Relax at June Lake Beach
If you’re wondering if you can swim in June Lake, the answer is yes. However, I don’t recommend you just dive into the water from anywhere. The best place to enter the lake is at June Lake Beach, as the shore is shallow, making it a safe place to swim and float around.
There are tons of June Lake summer activities at this beach besides swimming too. The sandy spot is perfect for sunbathing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, picnicking, or even a game of frisbee. You may not expect to have a day at the beach at June Lake, but the bright blue water, white sand, and a cool mountain breeze make it a perfect place to stop for a few hours.
You’ll find June Lake Beach on the northern side of June Lake, close to Pine Cliff Resort. Note that there is no shade on the beach, so bring a sun umbrella. If you’re interested in renting a SUP, kayak, or canoe, you can rent one at June Lake Marina on the south side of the lake and then paddle up to the beach.
2. Bathe in the June Lake hot springs
Not all visitors to this part of California know that the Eastern Sierra region is a geothermally active area. As a result, tons of hot springs are dotted around, including many around June Lake. However, not all the hot springs are suitable for swimming, and others are not accessible to the public.
Wild Willy’s Hot Spring by Mammoth Lakes is one of the most popular spots among tourists looking to bathe in the naturally warm waters. It can get as hot as 100 degrees and is one of the bigger hot springs in the area, fitting over 20 people. It’s located about 3 miles up Benton Crossing Road, but you have to park about ¼ mile away from the spring.
I also recommend you check out Hilltop Hot Springs close by. This natural hot spring is small, fitting around 6 people. However, it’s not as well known, so it is usually pretty quiet. Plus, it has the added benefit of giving exceptional vistas of the mountain scenery.
3. Rent a boat or canoe
Boating in June Lake is one of the most popular summer activities, and the good news is you don’t need to have your own boat. Instead, you can rent one at many of the marinas, although June Lake Marina is a popular option.
Several options are available, such as flat-bottomed motorized boats and pontoon boats. Fishing boats are also for rent if you want to enjoy a spot of fishing on the lake. You can usually rent a boat for half a day or a full day. However, if you’re visiting during the peak season, I recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.
4. Got jet skiing in Grant Lake
If you’re looking for a water activity that is a bit more thrilling, head to Grant Lake and hire a jet ski. The speed limit is lifted after 10am each day, allowing fast-moving watercrafts. Aside from jet-skiing, waterskiing and flyboarding are also available at Grant Lake. So, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just looking to push yourself out of your comfort zone, trying a new water sport at Grant Lake is a must.
5. Stroll around Gull Lake
Exploring the June Lake area on foot is just as spectacular as on the water. You can take many short, gentle nature walks here, such as the 2-mile loop around Gull Lake. This small lake sits just below June Lake, and you’ll find the trailhead on Granite Avenue.
The trail follows the lakeside but also passes through some lovely wildflower meadows. It’s mainly flat, so it is a leisurely stroll, but a lot of the trail is exposed. Therefore it’s best to go early in the morning or late afternoon. Look out for the rope swing that juts out into the lake too. If you’re feeling brave, you can give it a go!
6. Drive the famous June Lake Loop
The scenic June Lake Loop is a 16-mile driving route with tons of incredible viewpoints. It takes just 30 minutes to complete the drive without stop-offs, but most visitors take 2 to 3 hours to do the loop, incorporating photo stops and short walks along the way.
June Lake Loop incorporates part of California Highway 158, and you can start the scenic drive from the north end, close to Mono Lake, or the south end, by Mammoth Lakes. During the short road trip, you’ll pass the sparkling blue lakes and enjoy the magnificent vistas of the alpine mountains.
You’ll also see trailheads for some of the area’s top hiking trails, and you can take a detour to June Lake Beach. Therefore, driving the loop is an excellent way to incorporate many of the other June Lake attractions on this list.
7. Hike to Agnew Lake
You’ll find many hiking trails around June Lake that take you to parts not accessible by car. One of the favorites of the area is the Rush Creek Trail from Agnew Lake.
The trail begins at Silver Lake Campground and follows alongside the lake before reaching Rush Creek. The path then stays close to the creek and passes the small Horsetail waterfall. Finally, it arrives at the small but peaceful Agnew Lake. The 4.2-mile hike takes most people between 2 and 2.5 hours to complete. It is moderately challenging because of the various rocky sections and incline.
Agnew Lake is not one of the most impressive lakes and has some man-made structures, however, this trail is lesser-known than others, so it is a great hike to do if you’re in June Lake during peak season. Plus, you can extend your walk to Gem Lake, which is even more beautiful! Doing this will make the total hiking length about 7.25 miles (11.6km).
8. Go on a guided horseback ride
A unique but recommended way to explore June Lake is via horseback. Frontier Pack Train offers horseback rides around the area, starting at June Lake Pack Station. Their options include one-hour, half-day, and full-day excursions, but they only operate in the summer (from June to September). They cater to all levels, from novices to experienced riders, and offer private trips where you can choose the route.
9. Hit the slopes at June Mountain
While June Lake is blissful in the summer, visiting during the winter offers a totally different but equally wonderful experience. Skiing in June Mountain is undoubtedly one of the most famous June Lake winter activities thanks to its expansive 1500 acres, beginner-friendly terrain, and magnificent views.
June Mountain Ski Resort offers all-level group or private skiing and snowboarding lessons. But if you want to tackle the slopes independently, you can rent all the necessary equipment at the resort too. They even have demo skis and boards for experienced practitioners. Ski season at June Mountain runs from December to early April.
10. Go snowshoeing
Visiting June Lake in the winter doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the hiking opportunities. The ground may be covered in snow, but you can strap on some snowshoes and explore the winter wonderland.
There are various spots where you can snowshoe and cross-country ski here, but a favorite is the Bridgeport Winter Trail System, a 4.25-mile (8.5-mile/13.7km out & back) groomed winter trail. You’ll find it on Buckeye Road close to the hot spring, and the parking is at Doc & Al’s Resort off Twin Lakes Road.
Alternatively, head to Obsidian Dome if you want a quick and easy snowshoe trail. There are many short and flat snowy trails here that weave through the Jeffrey Pines and are perfect for beginners.
June Lake FAQs
In terms of weather, the best time to take a trip to June Lake is from June to September. This is because there are pleasant temperatures, abundant sunshine, and minimal rainfall during the summer months. However, this is also the busiest time of the year. So, if you’re looking for a more peaceful experience, you should visit June Lake in the spring or fall.
The shoulder seasons may be a bit chilly in June Lake, but they have their advantages. For example, you’ll enjoy beautiful snow-covered mountain backdrops in the spring. Then, in the fall, you’ll see the warm colors of the fall foliage.
If you’re looking to add June Lake as an addition to a trip to Yosemite, one day will be sufficient, but an overnight stay will give you more time to explore. Alternatively, suppose you’re visiting June Lake as a standalone trip and driving from San Francisco or Los Angeles. In that case, you’ll definitely want to stay two or three days minimum, which will give you time to explore the surrounding areas as well.