For those readers who’ve had their fill of urban dreariness for July, allow me to recommend some killer road trips that will do wonders to remind you how splendid life can be on this Third Stone From The Sun. These getaways have the power to provide truly superb escapism, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with escapism, ever. Especially when you find yourself jabbering incoherently into your coffee cup due to various current affairs.
So let’s start with the Great Yosemite. No, we don’t have quick access to the Valley. From Reno, that divine real estate is a haul. But we are a swift and scenic 2-3 hours away from the back door of 10,000-foot Tioga Pass, and great googly moogly, if you’ve never made that road trip, you are missing out and fucking up royally. It just couldn’t be easier, you go to 395, head south, and 140 miles away is the little ice cream barbecue motel town of Lee Vining and mind-boggling highway 120. Once you’re at Tenaya Lake or Tuolumne Meadows or anywhere up there in the Park, you’ll know what I mean. Godville, man, Godville. You get out of the car, you walk around, you say wow many, many times, you feel fortunate to be an Earthling.
If you’ve never spent the night at Pyramid Lake, you are also guilty of a gigantic fuckup. Fortunately, you can take steps to correct this blooper by camping there some time this summer. When you’re in your camp chair on a bluff overlooking The Lake at sunset, nursing your chilled pinot gris, watching as a line of 10 pelicans glides by, each giant bird beak to butt, flying in a tight row a foot off the water, then gently landing in front of you—you’ve just been skullswiped by one of the essential Nevada wildlife moments and you’re a richer person for it. Again, multiple wows.
But I’m sure many of you have done Yosemite and Pyramid, and you’re saying, OK, BVD, what else you got? And what I got is, the Santa Rosas, mofo. I got the dadgum Santa Rosas, an imperially gorgeous and monstrously ignored mountain range of superb national park quality splendor, only it’s not designated as anything out of the ordinary, so only locals and Nevadans know about ’em. This is an incredibly beautiful thing.
Your destination is Lye Creek, the main campground of the Santa Rosas. And yes, it’s a pretty crazy name for a gushing, sparkling mountain stream. To get there, you have to drive through the delightful Paradise Valley (4.5 hours from Reno), and then head up the fine gravel road to Hinkey Summit, and as you travel this wondrous road, you will eventually realize that you’re really traveling the highway of The Indescribable Wow.