The Mammoth Lakes area rests within the Eastern Sierras and is home to rich blue waters, famous skiing, and hikes that will leave you mesmerized. This outdoor paradise is the perfect trip any time of year — summer brings luxurious days on the lake, and winters are the chance to coast down postcard-worthy slopes.
A vacation rental can provide a comfortable home away from home in the Mammoth Lakes area. Here are a few tips for making the most of your stay.
With a yearly average of more than 90 inches of snow, Mammoth Lakes turns into a winter wonderland in the cold months. Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders (with a dedicated snow tube park, too). You can also explore the backcountry by way of snowcat or snowmobile, or take in the crisp mountain air at a more leisurely pace from snowshoes or cross-country skis at Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center.
Evidence of Mammoth Lakes’ geologic history can be witnessed at Devils Postpile National Monument, a unique collection of striking basalt columns created by an ancient lava flow that rises up to 60-feet tall. Within the monument, you can watch the San Joaquin River drop more than 100 feet to form the spectacular Rainbow Falls, where colorful rainbows rise from the mist.
With 60 square miles of saltwater, Mono Lake is another natural wonder. Striking limestone spires called tufas — built by calcium deposits from freshwater springs — climb up from the lake bed to tower above the surface of the water in otherworldly formations.
Bodie Ghost Town, a state historic park, makes for a quirky day trip into the weathered remains of the Old West. Bodie, which produced gold and silver from 1877 to 1888, had 10,000 residents at its peak. Today, it’s the largest unrestored ghost town in the West, with mine tours and a visitor center.
One of the easiest and most iconic Mammoth Lakes sights is Minaret Vista. Two miles up from the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center, you can view the sharp-edged spires of the Minarets, part of the Ritter Range.
The Mammoth Lakes Basin is a sought-after summer mountain destination, complete with rugged peaks, sparkling glacier-carved lakes, and all kinds of recreation opportunities. Everything from camping and hiking, to fishing, swimming, and boating await you.
Hikers of all levels will find plenty of enticing trails throughout the Mammoth Lakes area, leading through terrain that ranges from alpine meadows to deep forest and awe-inspiring vistas. Backpackers seeking a serious challenge can delve deeper into the wilderness and test their mettle on networks such as the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail. The more approachable Convict Lake Loop offers breathtaking views of Convict Lake, an area that resembles a painting.
Once the snow melts, Mammoth Mountain becomes a different kind of outdoor playground. Enjoy bird’s-eye views of the area’s peaks and valleys from the gondola, which reaches more than 11,000 feet at the summit. Mountain bikers can take the lift up and fly back down the mountain’s switchback trails.
Prefer four legs to two wheels? Horseback riding is also a popular pastime in Mammoth Lakes, including multi-day guided treks into the John Muir Wilderness.
The Mammoth Lakes area is a hotbed of geologic activity. A giant volcano exploded here around 760,000 years ago, creating an underwater reservoir of heated water that still bubbles up to the surface as hot springs. Some of these offer an opportunity to soak your cares away, including Benton Hot Springs, Travertine Hot Springs, and Keough’s Hot Springs, established in 1919.
At Hot Creek, dozens of hot springs flow into a freshwater stream, creating a unique environment of mineral-rich pools within a rocky gorge. Although swimming is not allowed because of the volatile temperature changes of the water, you can walk along the creek’s banks and enjoy the steamy setting.
The creek’s rich waters create an environment where fish thrive, and Hot Creek is considered one of the best — and most scenic — catch-and release fly-fishing spots in the country.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find four seasons of fun at waiting in the stunning Mammoth Lakes area. For more details on vacationing here, get the Mammoth Lakes Visitor’s Guide.