Mammoth Lakes during Summer, California, USA

Mammoth Lakes during Summer, California, USA (6/3-6/6/2015)

Upper Lower Twin Lakes Mammoth Lakes California
Upper and Lower Twin Lakes 
- Mammoth Lakes, California
Visiting Mammoth Lakes during the summer is fun with many great attractions. It should be included with your trip to Yosemite.

Pat Dunlap Gull Lake June Lake California
Pat at Gull Lake - June Lake, California
One of American’s largest national forests, the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range where Mammoth Lakes is located, has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Outdoor enthusiasts will love summer activities such as hiking, excellent fishing with trout-filled lakes, golfing in alpine meadows, mountain biking, horseback riding, zip lining, rock climbing, off-roading, kayaking, and camping. The mountain setting is stunning and the weather during summer is warm.

Mammoth Lakes is also home to summer festivals like the Jazz Jubilee, Mammoth Festival of Beers, and Bluesapalooza.

Travel Tip... A visit to the Mammoth Lakes Visitors Center (Welcome Center) located on Hwy 203 just before you reach the town is helpful to get maps, activity brochures, and talk to knowledgeable people to help plan your stay. To plan your trip prior to coming, you can reach the Visitors Bureau at 888-GO-MAMMOTH. Ask for the free Vacation Guide – a great planning source.

Here are some of the wonderful places to visit at Mammoth Lakes:

Map Reds Meadow Area Mammoth Lakes California
Map of Reds Meadow Area 
- Mammoth Lakes, California

The Reds Meadow area is a wonderful place to visit while at Mammoth Lakes. Some of the interesting attractions include Devil’s Postpile, Rainbow Falls, Sotcher Lake, and Reds Meadows Lodge. The John Muir Trail passes through this area and it famous for its display of summer wildflowers.

Hike Rainbow Falls Mammoth Lakes California
Hike to Rainbow Falls 
- Mammoth Lakes, California
Reds Meadow is located 10 miles past Mammoth Mountain Ski Area's Main Lodge on Hwy 203. A free mandatory Reds Meadow shuttle bus is required during summer months. It is available at the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge.

Do have lunch at the historic Reds Meadow Resort’s Mule House Café at the very end of the road and see the real hikers who camp all over the area.

Devil’s Postpile National Monument

Wayne dunlap Devil's postpile mammoth lakes california
Wayne at Devil's Postpile 
- Mammoth Lakes, California
Devil’s Postpile in Mammoth Lakes is one of the best places in the world to see this interesting phenomenon. It is accessed by an easy half-mile hike from the parking lot through a pretty forested area. About 100,000 years ago, basalt lava filled this valley and. It cracked when it cooled to form these fascinating columns. Later about 10,000 years ago, icy glaciers flowed through the valley exposing a sheer wall of basalt columns 60 feet high that we see today (see photo).

Wayne Middle Fork San Joaquin River Mammoth Lakes California
Wayne at Middle Fork 
of the San Joaquin River 
- Mammoth Lakes, California
After visiting Devil’s Postpile, walk a little further and follow the path to the right marked “Picnic Area”. It leads you to a wonderful spot overlooking the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River (see photo).

You can continue on the 1.3-mile trail along the scenic San Joaquin River to Rainbow Falls or drive or take the shuttle to the trailhead.

Rainbow Falls

Wayne Pat dunlap Rainbow Falls Mammoth Lakes California
Wayne & Pat at Rainbow Falls 
- Mammoth Lakes, California
A rather easy 2.5-mile round-trip hike from the trailhead or shuttle stop accesses spectacular Rainbow Falls. Famous for the rainbow the mist creates during sunny days (mid-day is best), Rainbow Falls drops 101 feet in a beautiful setting (see photo). People like to bring picnic lunches here and enjoy the roar of the falls. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Pat dunlap Sotcher Lake Mammoth Lakes California
Pat at Sotcher Lake - Mammoth Lakes, California

Sotcher Lake

Located just off the main road with a shuttle stop and parking lot, Sotcher Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in this area and worth a stop (see photo).


Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking Mammoth Main Lodge Adventure Center mammoth lakes california
Mountain Biking 
at Mammoth Main Lodge Adventure Center
During the summer, you can access the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park for beginning, intermediate, and advanced downhill mountain biking from the Mammoth Main Lodge Adventure Center on Hwy 203 (see photo). More than 70 miles of groomed single-track trails with lift access. Take the Bike Park shuttle from Mammoth Village. Bikes are transported free of charge for those who have purchased a Bike Park pass.

Scenic Gondola Ride

Eleven53 Interpretive Center Mammoth Lakes California
Eleven53 Interpretive Center 
- Mammoth Lakes, California
Even if you don’t want to mountain bike, you can take a ride up the Scenic Gondola to the top of Mammoth Mountain to enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range from Mammoth Mountain's 11,053-foot summit. From there you can visit the Top of the Sierra Eleven53 Interpretive Center & Café for all ages to learn about the geological and volcanic history of this interesting Mammoth Lakes area (see photo).

Earthquake Fault Mammoth Lakes California
Earthquake Fault 
- Mammoth Lakes, California

Earthquake Fault

An interesting stop on the way to the Mammoth Main Lodge is Earthquake Fault (see photo). 

This sizable fissure has been caused by a series of strong earthquakes when the Inyo Craters and Inyo Domes erupted centuries ago.


Paved Mammoth Lakes Basin Trail Bike Path mammoth lakes california
Paved Mammoth Lakes Basin Trail Bike Path
Great easy bike rides – I loved this rather easy bike ride... take the free shuttle (Mammoth Lakes Basin Trolley) from the back of the Mammoth Village to Horseshoe Lake. Bike around the Horseshoe Lake Loop and then take the mostly downhill paved Mammoth Lakes Basin Trail back down to the Village. Also, the Town Loop Trail is a rather easy 5-mile paved path offering a scenic ride (see photo).

Mammoth Village at Dusk Mammoth Lakes California
Mammoth Village at Dusk - Mammoth Lakes, California

Bike rentals are available at Mammoth Village (see photo) or from other sport shops like FootLoose located about a mile from the Village at the corner of Main Street and Old Mammoth Road.


Smoky the Bear Reminds Us to Prevent Forest Fires Mammoth Lakes California
Smoky the Bear Reminds Us 
to Prevent Forest Fires 
- Mammoth Lakes, California
The Mammoth Lakes Basin is a beautiful area to visit. This area has many lakes including Lake Mary, Twin Lakes, Lake George, Lake Mamie, and Horseshoe Lake located along Lake Mary Road. These lakes were formed by glaciers out of solid rock and are popular for fishing, boating, hiking, and picnics. Take Lake Mary Road to get to these beautiful lakes and take the Twin Lakes Loop Road on the way to get a closer view of the three pretty Twin Lakes (see photo above).

Lake Mamie Mammoth Lakes California
Lake Mamie - Mammoth Lakes, California
We had great hikes around the popular 1.8 mile Horseshoe Lake Trail as well as the less popular but wonderful Lake Mamie (see photo). These hikes are easy flat walks around beautiful lakes in a forested area. Many other wonderful easy and more moderate hikes are available around the Mammoth Lakes area.

Convict Lake California
Convict Lake, California
You can also visit Convict Lake located further south on U.S. 395. Named after a gunfight in 1871 between escaped convicts and a sheriff's posse. Convict Lake (see photo) has beautiful scenery and is great for hiking, picnics, fishing, horseback riding, boating, and camping.


Pat dunlap General Store Silver Lake California June Lake
Pat at General Store - Silver Lake, California
This area is well worth visiting. The June Lake area has four lakes (June, Gull, Silver, and Grant). It is accessed north of Mammoth Lakes on U.S. 395 on the 14-mile June Lake Loop. It is nice to visit on way back from visiting Mono Lake or Bodie State Historical Park. There are places to stay, have lunch, hike, and visit the beautiful lakes.

Lunch June Lake Brewery june Lake California Ohanas Hawaiian food truck
Lunch at June Lake Brewery 
- June Lake, California
The picturesque town of June Lake with its Swiss chalets-like buildings is located between June and Gull Lakes. We stopped at the June Lake Brewery and Ohanas Hawaiian food truck for a very nice lunch and a local experience (see photo).


Tufa tower Mono Lake California
Tufa Tower - Mono Lake, California
Mono Lake is located 30 miles north of Mammoth Lakes on U.S. 395 and is a very interesting scenic place to visit. Known as an ancient salt-water sea with towering tufa formations, it is host to millions of migrating birds who feed from its unique brine shrimp and alkali flies.

The unique tufa tower formations are formed when fresh water springs containing calcium bubble up through the carbonate-rich lake water. This creates calcium carbonate, a whitish limestone deposit that forms the tufa columns.

Pat dunlap South Tufa Mono Lake California
Pat at South Tufa - Mono Lake, California
The easiest place to access Mono Lake is at South Tufa off Hwy 120, where you can walk among the odd-shaped tufa towers (see photos) with self-guided interpretive tours of the shoreline. If you want to learn more about this unique place visit the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center located just north of Lee Vining on U.S. 395. It offers nature walks and slide shows.


There are many other nice places to visit around the Mammoth Lakes area. Here are a few more:

Hot Creek Geological Site 

Hot Creek Geological Site Mammoth Lakes California
Hot Creek Geological Site 
- Mammoth Lakes, California
Located 3 miles south of Mammoth Lakes on US 395, Hot Creek is a natural spectacle of bubbling hot springs that heat a mountain stream with a series of fumaroles (gas vents) and hot-water seeps lined with colorful sulfur deposits and mosses (see photo). Hot Creek has no swimming due to dangerous varying water temperatures.

You can also visit the Hot Creek State Fish Hatchery here that produces over 20 million eggs each year for shipment to trout facilities throughout California. 

Bodie State Historical Park

Bodie State Historical Park California
Bodie State Historical Park, California
Bodie is located 35 miles north of Mammoth Lakes and 13 miles east on Hwy 270. It once was one of the wildest gold-mining towns of the late 1800’s in the Eastern Sierra and is now the largest unrestored ghost town in the western United States (see photo). You can see weathered saloons, bordellos, and gambling houses with a visitor center and museum.

There is a nominal fee charged to enter the park and no food services are provided.

Yosemite National Park & Tioga Pass

Wayne Pat dunlap Yosemite Valley California tunnel view
Wayne & Pat at Yosemite Valley - California
Yosemite is absolutely wonderful. The eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park is about one hour north of Mammoth Lakes through the beautiful Tioga Pass (Hwy 120) that opens in late spring. Yosemite’s northern Tioga Pass offers some wonderful places to visit like Tuolumne Meadows and Lake May. It’s about a 2-½ hour drive to the famous Yosemite Valley.

Map of Mammoth Lakes Area California
Map of Mammoth Lakes Area - California
Where to Eat and Stay in Mammoth Lakes... The main streets of the town of Mammoth Lakes are Main Street (Hwy 203) and Old Mammoth Road where most the restaurants and shops are located. Restaurants we liked are Rafters (on Old Mountain Road) and Petra Bistro & Wine Bar (across from the Mammoth Village). 

Accommodations in Mammoth Lakes run the gamut from budget hotels, quaint cabins, BnB inns, and luxurious hotels and condos. We enjoyed our stay at the Holiday Haus Motel with its affordable upgraded rooms with fireplaces and forest views located on Main Street just minutes from Mammoth Village.

Travel Tip:  Attitude Sickness

High attitude affects people differently but precautions are wisely taken. When visiting the Mammoth Lakes area, take it slower for the first days and plan less strenuous activities. Because of the dry air and most likely increased activity, drink lots of water. Also, avoid alcoholic beverages for the first 24 hours and get plenty of rest. Sun intensity is 40-50% more intense than at sea level so use sunscreen on exposed skin, wear good sunglasses, and wear a hat.

If you experience extreme attitude sickness symptoms such as severe dizziness, headaches, nausea, or rapid heart rate or shortness of breath at rest, you should seek medical attention.

Map of Mammoth Lakes
Map of Mammoth Lakes
Some history of Mammoth Lakes areaMining was the main reason the Eastern Sierra gained attention. The discovery of the Comstock Lode’s silver ore in 1858 east of Lake Tahoe caused a torrent of men to relocate from the mined-out Mother Lode. 

Rich gold and sliver discoveries at places like Bodie as well as rumors of other finds brought miners into the Mammoth Lakes area in the summer of 1878 shutting down in 1880 when the mines did not work out. Prospectors followed the ancient Indian trading routes that eventually became many of the roads we use today.

Map Mammoth Ski Resort Mammoth Lakes California
Mammoth Ski Resort - Mammoth Lakes, California
Increased interest in Mammoth Lakes started in 1941 when Dave McCoy set up the first rope tow for skiing leading up to now where Mammoth Mountain is a premier ski area with 29 modern lifts.

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