Mono Village Twin Lakes – What You Need to Know

My Love Affair with Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes

When I was 22 I fell in love with a boy, and we had a couple of daughters. My first camping trip at Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes was when I was at the beginning of my second trimester with our oldest daughter. At least once during the open season of May-October, we make the three-hour trek to Twin Lakes. That boy and I split up by the time I was 28, but we had an amicable relationship after the wounds healed. In 2020, he passed away from a chronic illness. Soon after, COVID-19 shut down much of the United States, and we were unable to hold a funeral or celebration of life. This summer, his mom and our daughters decided the time had come to have a small, ceremony. Tied with the beach, Annett’s was his favorite place in the world. On a weekend that was predicted to be nothing but blistering heat in the Los Angeles area, my new husband, my daughters, his sons, our dog, my ex’s mother, and I journeyed to Twin Lakes to spend a weekend remembering him. It reminded me why this was one of my favorite places too.

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Where is Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes?

Along Highway 395, outside the quaint town of Bridgeport, CA (which is so small that you could miss it if you blink for too long) you will find Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes. Nestled into the Sierra Nevada mountains on the backside of Yosemite are two “twin” lakes, and the remote area has long been popular with hikers, backpackers, fishermen, and wildlife enthusiasts. You will find the campground at the end of Twin Lakes Road, sitting at the top of the larger of the two lakes, Upper Twin Lake, known for some of the best trout fishing in California. Annett’s is located at 13425 Twin Lakes Rd, Bridgeport, CA 93517. If you need to navigate yourself there, make sure you start navigating well in advance. You will lose cell service long before you get to Bridgeport.

Accommodations at Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes

We always stay at Annett’s by old-school tent camping at one of their first come, first served, no reservations under any circumstances “dry sites”. Driving for hours to a location without a reservation seems crazy, but we always find a site, even on busier-than-usual holiday weekends. If you need the peace of mind of having a reservation, other campgrounds nearby offer reservations, but the views may not be as phenomenal and wildlife at your campsite may be less common. At Annett’s each “dry site” can accommodate up to 8 people, which includes infants and children. They allow up to two dogs per site for an extra fee. That fee was considerably less than at other sites we have camped at with the mutt in tow. All sites include a picnic table and a fire pit, but campfires are permitted only when wind and weather conditions allow. California is, after all, one of those states prone to devastating wildfires. If tent camping is not your thing, trailer “Hook Up” sites are available and include water, sewer, and electricity. “Hook Up” sites also allow for up to 8 persons and up to 2 dogs and dump stations are available.

If you’re looking more for glamping than for camping, Annett’s offers motel rooms, although these offer no outdoor or indoor cooking options, and you would need to eat at the onsite restaurant. Cabins are also available with kitchens and bathrooms. “Rustic” cabins have one general living and sleeping area for up to 3-6 people. “Modern” cabins have separate living rooms and two bedrooms for up to six. They even have one mobile home listed for rental! But, if you want to stay in luxury digs, reserve a “Lakeshore Cabin”, which they advertise for honeymoons and romantic getaways. One “Lakeshore Cabin” has a max of two guests, while the other two hold up to four.

Amenities at Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes

I mentioned that you will not have cell service, and you won’t have Wi-Fi either unless you are one of those people that goes to the wilderness to sit in an air-conditioned trailer with internet and satellite TV. Come on, you can do that anywhere. When you are here, take the opportunity to turn it off. All the way off.

While you will have to put your phone addiction on hold (is that such a bad thing?), you don’t have to give up all the simple comforts to camp at Annett’s. In addition to fully stocked cabins, the campground offers:

  • Actual bathrooms, with flushing toilets and sinks (no mirrors. There’s no reason to worry about how you look here). Pro Tip: Bathrooms are stocked, but supplies run out fast. Bring t.p. and hand soap.

  • Showers. Yes, with walls and a drain and running water. Pro Tip: These are coin-operated, so bring quarters, and keep ’em quick. Again, bring soap, shampoo, etc.

  • Laundry Facilities – two washers and two dryers. Pro Tip: You’ll need more quarters and laundry soap.

  • General Store, Bait Shop, the Village Cafe restaurant, and the Bear Den – a stand that serves ice cream and snow cones by day and blended margaritas by night. On Friday nights they serve a barbecue dinner to registered guests, often with live music.

  • Bear Boxes. These are locked boxes to keep food in overnight so bears don’t eat it. More on this later.

  • Fishing and Pontoon boat rentals which leads us to…
Trout fishing at Mono Village Twin Lakes image by James Hills
Image by James Hills from Pixabay

Fishing at Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes

I was not making that up earlier about Twin Lakes being a great spot for fishing. The official website of Mono County (monocounty.org) boasts “While the Twin Lakes Basin is certainly beautiful, it’s also home to some of the best trout fishing in the Golden State. The state record brown trout—weighing in at 26 pounds, 8 ounces—was caught in Upper Twin in 1987. That fish knocked off the reigning champ, which had been landed in Lower Twin Lakes, by just a few ounces.” Stocked during the fishing season by the CA Dept. of Fish and Game, and from donations from patrons of Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes, Upper Twin Lakes contains native Lahontan cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and even some Kokanee salmon to keep it interesting. Fishing is also available in the surrounding creeks, including Robinson’s Creek which runs along one edge of the campground. If you choose to fish, make sure to grab a license here, and make sure to fish in season, In Mono County, trout season is the last Saturday in April through November 15th.

If you are not into fishing, I’m not, a boat rental may still be worthwhile. Swimming is allowed but the lake is melted snow, and cold AF even in the heat of the summer. It’s so cold that we dare each other to get in the water. It’s impossible to describe how breathtaking the lake is, and the photos I took don’t do justice either. Boating on the lake for an hour or two, or even a day, is highly recommended.

Hiking at Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes

All 2, 3, & 4-wheel recreational vehicles are prohibited for personal use at Annett’s Mono Village. The only way to get around is on foot. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for most of the guests, as the campground is popular with hikers of all levels of experience. The Robinson’s Creek/Barney Lake Trail starts at the marina, and the Horse Creek Trailhead is a hop, skip, and jump away as well. I have begun the Robinson’s Creek hike, but have not yet made it to Barney Lake at the top. My daughters’ dad made it once. Because the Twin Lakes basin is located on the opposite side of the Twin Peaks, expert hikers sometimes cross into Yosemite from the Twin Lakes area. The hike is stupid challenging and should not be attempted by anyone but expert hikers. A permit is required for overnight hikes.

Suggested Gear

  • A hammock for lounging the days away

Black Bears and Other Wildlife at Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes

Close up image of black bear like those that frequent Mono Village Twin Lakes
Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

My Wildlife Encounters

Bear Boxes are an amenity at Mono Village, for good reason. Every time I saw a black bear in the wild, I was at Annett’s. The first time or two that I camped there, I didn’t see bears. But, every morning the “locked” dumpsters were emptied and trash was strewn about from their overnight visit. My ex used to take his Yellow Lab on late-night walks through the campground, hoping to have a bear sighting, while I stayed safe in our tent.

Once when the ex and the dog were out on one of these “bear walks”, and I was asleep in the tent like a sensible person, I awoke to a noise outside. THU-THUMP, THU-THUMP, THU-THUMP. The ground shook, but I knew this was not an earthquake. The sound was a large black bear running past the tent. I didn’t have to see it to know.

On another visit, we arrived later than usual. The sun was already down by the time we registered at the front office, and night had fallen by the time we had the tent set up and supplies unloaded. We wanted a campfire but forgot to bring old newspapers for kindling. I took the Lab and the biggest flashlight we had, one of those big, heavy, metal ones, and stepped into the trees to gather fallen debris for kindling while the ex chopped logs to build the fire with.

I heard a crunching noise that instincts told me was not an echo from me or the dog. Turning the flashlight in the direction the sound came from, it illuminated a mother bear and her cub. My heart sank. The bears, the dog, and I froze. I tried not to shake as I kept the light shined in her eyes. Slowly, the dog and I inched backward. Slowly, she did the same, with her cub following along, seeming unaware of the possible danger. Once they were out of sight, I decided I had gathered enough kindling, and we went back to camp.

The last time we camped at Annett’s, my ex’s mother left food in her cooler and then forgot to hide the cooler at night. We left out the plastic bins that we thought contained non-food items like plates and cups and jars of propane for the stove. In the middle of the night, we woke up to the sound of the cooler being emptied. My husband and I peeked out of the side window of our tent to see a massive black bear helping himself to the food, and to a can of coca-cola he shotgunned. Almost as soon as we fell back asleep, we heard our plastic bins being rifled through, and then the sounds of ecstatic licking and sniffing. Hubby peeked out the tent door and saw the massive bear’s smaller companion helping itself to some instant coffee and powdered creamer. A terrifying night, but the next day I chuckled to myself imagining a bear couple charging through the woods; hopped-up on caffeine.

I’ve seen deer, rabbits, squirrels, and a variety of birds, most of which I don’t know the names of. But, I do know they have Blue Jay’s, my “Big Grandpa’s” favorite, and on this last visit, one spent a while flitting about camp, showing off for me and my daughters. The Mono County website says you can spot sheep and the Sierra Red Fox if you are lucky.

Bear Safety Tips

So that you don’t end up spending the night fretting about bears at your campsite, make sure you follow these bear safety tips from the Sierra National Forest’s Be Bear Aware web page:

  • Always keep a clean camp.

  • Use a designated camping area.

  • Don’t leave food out when not in use. Store it in a bear-resistant storage unit, hard-shelled vehicle, or car trunk. BBFB’s Tip: Bears know what coolers look like and that we hide our food in vehicles, but this sometimes is the only option. Keep containers hidden under blankets or tarps, and spray the inside of the vehicle thoroughly with pine-scented air freshener when you close it up for the night. Don’t forget to lock the vehicle!

  • Use bear-resistant trash receptacles.

  • Set up tents with space between them.

  • Keep pets on a leash and inside your tent or sleeping area at night.

  • Keep your sleeping area, tent, and sleeping bag free of food, food odors, and personal products that are scented, like toothpaste, lotion, and makeup.

  • Do not sleep in the same clothes you cooked in.

  • Keep a flashlight and bear pepper spray readily available.

I Hope You Visit Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes

Camping at Annett’s Mono Village Twin Lakes is a special treat, and if you go I hope you enjoy your stay as much as I have enjoyed all of mine!

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