Photo © Christian Pondella
Backed by the jagged spires of the Sawtooth Range, Bridgeport is the center of a vast recreational playground – the gateway to numerous Sierra Nevada canyons, peaks, lakes, streams, and hot springs.
Twin Lakes and Bridgeport Reservoir hum with activity all summer including fishing, boating, camping, hiking and rock climbing. Twin Lakes also produces state records for catching the most brown trout. Nearby Robinson and Buckeye creeks are popular for fly fishing, and to the south Green Creek is a more remote destination for camping, fishing, and hiking. Here too are the headwaters for the East Walker River, which flows through the valley to Bridgeport Reservoir northeast of the town. The reservoir and nearby river are popular destinations for fishing and bird watching.
Virginia Lakes located down the road from Bridgeport near Conway Summit boasts access to eight pristine mountain lakes that beckon trout anglers. Cabin rentals, boat rentals and a cafe round-out the vacation experience. Situated beneath Dunderberg Peak, Virgina Lakes is also the gateway to rugged hiking trails in the Hoover Wilderness.
Home to California's second oldest courthouse in continuous use since 1880, Bridgeport serves as the seat of Mono County. The Bridgeport Courthouse, a masterpiece of Victorian architecture, along with the Bridgeport Inn, has dominated the town of Bridgeport since its completion on April 1, 1881, and remains today as one of the few structures that reveal what was once the New England appearance of old Bridgeport. History buffs will enjoy exploring the Mono County Museum, featuring displays on the region's Native American, mining, and ranching heritage.
Best of all, this natural playground is matched with a complete range of amenities. You'll find everything from creek-side cabins and historic bed and breakfasts, to campgrounds under the stars. Fine restaurants, cafes, and quaint shops are found throughout the area, and outfitters can provide gear for your next exploration.
The Bridgeport Visitor Center & Ranger Station (760-932-7070) is located on Highway 395 just south of the historic town of Bridgeport, California. Open year-round to assist travelers, campers, sightseers and backpackers, as well as to issue permits, the Visitor Center & Ranger Station carries numerous books on the region, maps, and guides.
Trappers, explorers and emigrants discovered the Bridgeport Valley beginning about 1827 when a party led by Jedediah Strong Smith crossed the Sierra and picked up gold in the foothills around Mono Lake. John C. Fremont led several expeditions across the Sierra Nevada. Once journey, begun in May 1843 in Kansas, resulted in Fremont, along with his guide, Kit Carson, camping in the Bridgeport Valley before continuing on to cross the Sierra Nevada and arrive at Sutter’s Fort on March 8, 1844.
Seven miles south of Bridgeport, the first placer gold mining settlement in the Eastern Sierra Nevada was formed at Dogtown in 1859 . A settlement of 70 Mormon families sprang to life in short order, but the small town lasted just a few years; the gold played out, and the miners moved a few miles further south to Monoville. In the late 1850s, rich gold and silver deposits were also discovered in nearby Bodie, Masonic and Aurora. Modern day prospectors continue to look for gold on the slopes of 12,374 foot-high Dunderberg Peak, considered the source of the Dogtown placer gold.