For the last 6 years, I have taken (from socal) I5 north to the 138 E to the 14 N. The 14 eventually turns into 395. In bridgeport, just before you enter town (and across the street from NAPA auto parts), I split off 395 and take 182. In about 10 miles you hit state line, and the road becomes Nevada 338. Take that to 208, then to 339. This will take you along the Walker River to Yerrington, then on to Silver Springs. When there is good snowfall during the winter, the Walker River is flowing nicely, and there are places to take a cool refreshing dip.
There are 3 major grades to deal with when you take tnis route. The first is right out of Castaic, about 30 miles south of the 5/138 interchange. The next one is north of bishop, and the last one is just past Mono Lake. I believe that's Conway Summit, and hits an elevation of about 8300 feet. I think the worst is the grade outside of bishop. It's long, and puts the biggest strain on a vehicle. I try and hit this at night. Conway Summit, while steeper, is much shorter.
Things to see and do along this route:
Alabama Hills Cafe in Lone Pine: Best. Fucking. Pies. Ever. Anywhere.
Manzanar relocation center: This is where Japanese- American citizens were taken to during WW II. I don't remember being told this in my history classes in high school. It's eery, and worth a visit. Star Trek actor, and all around good guy George Takei spent several years here as a young boy. NPR interviewed him about his time there. If you can find it on the interwebs, it's worth hearing.
Petite Pantry in Bishop. Great restaurant. The chef often comes out and visits with patrons.
Schats bakery in bishop. Amazing home made baked goods. Stock up here for bread and stuff on Playa. Nothing like Danish baked goods on an early Playa morning.
Mahogany smoked meats in Bishop. Short of my home made beef jerky, the best for hundreds of miles around.
Laws train museum in bishop. Just a few miles down HWY 6, you could spend two days here.
June lake loop off 395. It's a 20 mile loop that takes you through some of the most amazing scenery. I usually take this on the way home, and stay at one of the many RV parks.
Bodie ghost town just south of Bridgeport. One of the best preserved ghost gowns anywhere.
Napa auto parts in Bridgeport. The owners helped me out in 2010 when my RV broke down. They let me leave it there until new parts arrived, and I worked on it in their lot. Plus they have a lot of stuff you may need for the Playa as far as RV supplies are concerned. Great, friendly people.
Nicelys restaurant in Lee Vinning. Fabulous food.
Broken Arrow auto repair in Silver Springs. The most honest repair guys on the planet. If your shit breaks down, have it towed there. Im a mechanic, and this place is top shelf. Doug, the owner is a great guy, and I always stop by on my way to the Playa with a bottle of Jamesons whiskey.
Wig Wam restaurant in Fernley. Great chicken fried steak. It's usually my first and last "default world" meal before and after the event.
That's about all I can think of. There are some little places all along 395 that I have seen but never visited. If you have been to places not listed that you liked, let me know. The drive to and from burningman is almost as much fun as the event itself. I take 2 days each way, and may even stretch it to 3 this year.
Praise the Lowered