When you think of summer, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? For many people, the thought of summer conjures up fond memories of family vacations spent on the lake. If that’s you, chances are you remember clear blue water surrounded by lush green trees, maybe a favorite picnic spot, and lazy afternoons spent swimming and sunbathing.
Whether you’re lucky enough to have memories like these or not, the good news is that it’s never too late to make more, and June Lake in Northern California is the perfect place to do it! Located in Mono County, on the southern rim of Mono Basin, June Lake is comprised of several distinct community areas and the June Lake Loop – a chain of four lakes offering a wealth of fun, family-friendly summer activities.
The June Lake Loop
June Lake is the most southern lake in the June Lake Loop, and the most easily accessible as it lies just two miles off Highway 395. It is typically the lake people visit first when they come to the June Lake Loop, and easily the most recognizable, as the view from “Oh! Ridge” at the northern end of the lake is frequently photographed.
Although it is just one mile long and half a mile wide, June Lake is served by two marinas offering boat rentals and launches. The community of June Lake sits at the southernmost tip of the lake, and offers visitors a quaint stop for lunch, a spot of shopping, or an overnight stay in one of the town’s many charming lodges.
Gull Lake is the smallest lake in the June Lake chain, and sits just south of the town of June Lake. Despite its small size – less than one-mile square – the lake shores are highly developed: home to a boat landing, campground, condominium, several summer homes, and a community center.
The Gull Lake Trail and Fisherman Trail are two popular hiking trails that circle the lake, and connect the town of June Lake with the Gull Lake campground, making for a very pleasant and easy day hike.
At the base of Carson Peak, just east of California Route 158, Silver Lake is one of the most popular vacation destinations in California – and one of the oldest. It is almost two miles square and surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Inyo National Forest.
Silver Lake is the home of the Sierra’s oldest vacation resort, which was established in 1916 and originally known as “Carson’s Camp.” Today, the resort is still a wildly popular fishing destination. Silver Lake also allows access to the Rush Creek Basin and Ansel Adams Wilderness, making it a popular starting point for hikers and backpackers seeking a backcountry escape.
Like Big Bear Lake in Southern California, Grant Lake is manmade. The largest lake in the June Lake Loop at over three miles long, it is the least developed lake in the chain. The shoreline is accessible only via unpaved roads, and there are no private residences, power, or telephone lines – although there are marinas and campground facilities.
Although it is a manmade lake, the 12,000 ft summit of Mt Wood on one side and Aerie Crag on the other make Grant Lake a dramatic and beautiful destination, and the eight miles of shoreline provide plenty of room for watersports and other activities.
Best Water Activities in the June Lake Area
Kayaking, Canoeing, and Paddle Boarding
All of the lakes in the June Lake Loop are open to kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards, except for Grant Lake, which is primarily used by jet skiers, wake boarders, and water skiers.
Silver Lake is the best choice for kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding, as it has the lowest speed limit of any of the lakes (5MPH), and apart from paddle sport boats, it is only open to fishing boats, pontoons, and small sailboats. Gull Lake and June Lake are also good choices for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding, as they have a 10MPH speed limit and do not allow water skiing, wakeboarding, or jet skiing.
Jet Skiing, Wakeboarding, and Waterskiing
The only lake in the June Lake Loop that allows motorized water sports is Grant Lake, because it is the largest lake in the chain. There is a 10MPH speed limit on the lake until 10AM, when the lake is open to fishing boats, pontoons, small sailboats, and windsurfers.
After 10AM the speed limit is lifted and the lake opens up to jet skiers, wake boarders, water skiers, and other personal motorized watercraft.
It’s possible to fish in any of the lakes in the June Lake Loop, and all lakes are well stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, and Alper’s trout. That being said, there are some nuances to know about fishing in the June Lake Loop.
Silver Lake is known as one of the prettiest, best-stocked, and most easily accessible fishing spots in California. The Department of Fish and Game regularly stocks the lake, and the Silver Lake Resort also pays for supplemental stocking, making it a good learning spot for beginners. Grant Lake and Gull Lake are great for fishermen looking for large fish, as trout in the three-to-five-pound and up range are regularly caught there.
As with kayaking, swimming is allowed but not necessarily recommended in all of the lakes. Grant Lake offers decent swimming close to shore, but after 10AM when jet skiers and other motorized craft take to the water, swimming any great distance from shore becomes risky.
June Lake Beach, on June Lake, is a wonderful family-friendly swimming spot, offering a designated swimming area with shallow water, as well as close parking, a picnic area, and fire pits.
Here we offer a comparison chart. Hope this works for you.
|Kayaking, Canoeing||Jet Skiing||Fishing||Swimming|
Where to Rent Water Equipment in June Lake
It is recommended to call in advance and reserve a rental at all of these locations, as equipment sells out quickly. Please also be aware that these marinas do not rent boats during the off-season (October – April.)
1. Silver Lake Resort
- One hour: $25 + $10 for each additional hour
- Full day: $60
- Half day: $45
This has been a popular fishing resort since 1916, but these days it also supplies boats and kayaks to visitors. The resort unfortunately does not rent paddle boards. There is a 2 person limit in kayaks and a 5 person limit in motorized boats. The resort provides everything needed for the trip, including life jackets. There is also a boat launch from which visitors can launch their own watercraft.
2. June Lake Marina
- Single – $15 per hour
- Double $20 per hour
- $25 per hour
- $25 per hour
Motorized boats – depends on the size. See the website for more details.
June Lake Marina is a full-service marina that rents all types of paddle sport boats, in addition to motorized pontoons and flat bottom boats of various sizes. They also have a launch ramp for visitors with their own boats. Life jackets are required for anyone under the age of 12, and there is a 48-hour cancellation policy for all rentals. Rentals are subject to a $20 cleaning fee if returned in sub-par condition.
3. Big Rock Resort
- Single – $20 per hour or $80 for the day
- Double – $20 per hour or $80 for the day
- $20 per hour
Motorized boats – depends on the size. See website for pricing.
Similar to June Lake Marina, Big Rock Resort offers a full-service marina, including a launch ramp, boat rentals, and slip rentals. The resort also offers cabins and wedding services. There is a 20% discount on rentals for anyone staying at the resort. Their cancellation policy for rentals is complex, we recommend checking it out on the website before booking.
4. Lakeboat Rental
Call for prices – rates vary by season and location
Although Grant Lake Marina offers boat rentals for pontoons and smaller motorized boats, if you want to rent a jet ski or boat for wakeboarding or water skiing, you will need to rent it through a private company and bring it yourself. Lakeboat Rental serves all the freshwater lakes in the United States and rents jet skis as well as speed boats and other motorized watercraft suitable for towing a wakeboarder or water skier.
June Lake is a fantastic vacation destination for anyone looking to create some long-lasting summer memories.
Whether your goal is to lounge on the beach, take a cool dip in the water, enjoy a relaxing paddle along the shore, or engage in some high-octane watersports, June Lake will have everything you need to make your next summer vacation one remember.