Unassuming, but interesting, little towns.

Topaz, Walker and Coleville, though modest in size, are actually very interesting places to visit. Tucked away near these small towns are some of the "secret spots" of the Eastern Sierra.

Drivers could whiz straight through Topaz, Walker and Coleville and hardly notice, were it not for the unusual crafts, wind chimes, and flags that suddenly spring up along Highway 395, which is part of the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway. You might say that these little towns represent a micro-economy of totally unique arts & crafts stores. It's Mom & Pop retailing, where most of the crafts are built by the store owners themselves. Some of the stores are adjacent to the owner's houses, or they are the houses — giving a whole new meaning to the term "artist in residence".

Visit one of these craft shops — chances are, you'll be walking out with a unique gift that couldn't have come from anywhere else. And whether you've picked up some handwrought pewter, a fanciful Sierra Christmas ornament, or even some handmade furniture, you'll surely have a keepsake to share and remember.

Arts & crafts have had their place in the High Sierra ever since the first cowboys started whittling pine branches to pass the time. Yet there's another cowboy tradition that is also alive and kicking up here, too — gambling. And it's as fun as ever.

At Topaz Lake, the local casino at Topaz Lodge is loved by sly veterans and novice gamblers alike. We're not talking bingo here, either — this casino offers full Nevada-style gaming, from slots to blackjack to velvet-lined craps tables. And if you ever need to take a break, just step outside and take in the beautiful Topaz Lake — a pleasant respite.

Some sweet & scenic spots are nestled in the Topaz / Walker / Coleville area, too.

Poore Lake / Kirman Lake
Between Bridgeport and Walker. For Kirman, take 395 15 miles south of Walker, drive west a mile on 108, and park at Forest Road 137. If you've got 4WD, you can drive in; otherwise it's a nice, three-mile hike or bike ride. To reach Poore Lake, drive west about six miles on 108, then south up Forest Road 061 three miles.

Little Antelope Valley
There's a herd of mule deer that live in this hidden valley every winter. Hikers love this place, and there's a pack station for horseback riders. A couple miles north of Walker, keep your eyes open for the "Little Antelope Valley" sign and turn west onto the dirt road.

Topaz Lake at the State Line
Okay, so this one's no secret. It's a complete water-sports area — fishing, water skiing, bird watching — and a nearby casino, restaurant, and RV park. The perfect spot to while away a few days in total relaxation. Be sure to check the Nevada fishing season and regulations.


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