Mammoth Lakes is truly one of California’s best kept secrets. Whilst hordes of tourists descend upon the bigger name spots in California each summer, it is the few well-informed travellers that enjoy the offerings of Mammoth Lakes. See what we’re getting at? That’s right, we think it’s about time you leave the crowds behind you and embark on this five-night itinerary of outdoor exploration. Prepare to experience secluded hiking and biking paths, and fishing and kayaking adventures down deserted waterways. This is a picturesque retreat that we had to share with you.
A GENTLE BEGINNING
Begin your trip with some soft adventure by making your way over to Mono Lake for a serene kayak tour. A private guide will be paddling with you, so you can learn all there is to know about the area’s unique ecology as well as its fascinating history. Of course, you can take to the waters on your own if you’d prefer, but if you’re interested in natural history at all, the guides of Mono Lake are invaluable. Be sure to make the most of this unique vantage point as you float along at your own pace, surrounded by views of beautiful wildlife, clear salt water and distant mountains. It’s an experience that will prove to be the perfect introduction to the spectacular beauty of the Eastern Sierra Mountains.
Back on dry land, join a trained naturalist on a walk around the South Tufa Grove State Park and discover yet more interesting facts about an ecosystem that has existed for a million years. Yep, that’s a long time, and undoubtedly a lot of information to take in, so when you’re done with education for the day, head to The Sierra Nevada Resort’s spa for an afternoon of pampering.
HIT THE TRAIL
Next up is the essential journey to Devil’s Postpile and Rainbow Falls beyond. The Postpile is a natural monument that was formed by a lava eruption hundreds of thousands of years ago; however it wasn’t until about 10,000 years ago that the famous columns of rock we see today were uncovered by the flowing glaciers. It’s a great example of nature’s power and beauty, and when you lay eyes on it you’ll be glad those glaciers came along. From the Postpile it’s a 2.5 mile flat hike down to Rainbow Falls. As you’ve probably guessed, the hike will eventually end up at a waterfall, whose mists are often coloured with rainbows (hence the name) and it’s a view that’s well worth the walk. And who knows, you might find a pot of gold at the end…Read more
If you want to give your legs a break, then you can hop on a shuttle bus back to the start of the hike. From here, you can catch a gondola up to the Top of California, which is the peak of Mammoth Mountain. You’ll be zipped up to the lofty heights of 11,093 feet in just 8 minutes – and while the ride alone is lots of fun, the views at the top are incredible.
After a morning in the fresh mountain air, treat yourself to an afternoon at the tasting room of the local Mammoth Brewing Company and the Eatery. This institution has been producing award-winning beers for 20 years and offers an abundance of fantastic brews for beer-lovers. Their Paranoids Pale Ale and Epic IPA are particular favourites of ours, but stay long enough and you’ll get to try them all.
BEST OF THE REST
There are plenty of ways to fill your time in Mammoth Lakes. For example, if you’re keen for a slice of history, then make time for a visit to Bodie State Historic Park. California’s official gold-mining ghost town that’s been incredibly well preserved (yep, ghost towns actually exist), Bodie was once home to over 10,000 people. When the gold reserves began to dry up, the people followed suit and steadily disappeared, so now all that’s left are the original buildings with interiors that have been expertly and authentically preserved for decades. It’s quite easy to imagine the roads busy with horse-drawn carts and the saloons choked with thirsty customers; the whole experience is rather eerie.
Mammoth Lakes sits just above the Long Valley Caldera, meaning the area is geochemically active with both natural hot springs and steam vents. There are hundreds of hot springs you can visit, but one of our favourites is Hill Top. Take cool beers or some wine and soak in the waters as you watch the sky turn pink and the sun dip behind the mountain peaks; it’s a magical experience. Hot Creek Geological Site is home to some of the best trout fishing you will find (as are nearby Lake Mary and Twin Lakes), so cast your line, revel in the blissful tranquillity and hope for a hefty catch of the day.
And last but by no means least, check out the Mammoth Lakes’ mountain biking scene. The area ranks as one of the best places in North America to mountain bike, so we recommend you find out why. We can arrange bike hire and a picnic, so all you’ve got to do is set off on what’s sure to be an exciting adventure. There are routes to suit all abilities, but begin by riding the Downtown Trail, which runs from the Main Lodge to the Village – then, for the ride of a lifetime, hop aboard the gondola up to the summit to get started on your eight mile descent along the incredible Top Trail. Our tip: try to resist the urge to fly down the trail too fast. The awe-inspiring views from this height are just too good, so slow down or stop regularly to remind yourself just how beautiful this secluded corner of California really is.