Parks and Monuments Near Mammoth

National Parks, State Parks and National Monumnets

Mammoth Mountain is located a short drive from several great outdoor destinations. Take some time to explore the history the area has to offer. From National Parks to historic mining towns the rich hisory of the area is waiting to be explored. 

Devils Postpile National Monument & Rainbow Falls

The Devils Postpile used to be much taller than what we see today. Powerful erosive forces have been at work during the last 80,000 to 100,000 years carving, shaping and demolishing remnants of the lava flow. Freeze-thaw cycles help break apart the columns. Earthquakes knock columns down into the talus slope below. The river slowly eats away at pieces that fall into the water. But no force has left a greater footprint on the Postpile than that of glaciers. In fact, we wouldn’t even see the beautifully straight hexagonal columns hidden within the depths of the lava flow had glaciers not excavated the formation. Several distinct glacial periods have occurred since the Postpile was formed and each has dug deeper and deeper into the dense, heavy rock known officially as andesitic basalt. The last major glacial period ended about 15,000 years ago. Glacial polish and striations evident on top of the Postpile are from this last glaciation.

Two miles downstream from Devils Postpile, the San Joaquin River tumbles over an abrupt 101-foot drop, sending rainbows of color into the mist. After the easy 1.5-mile walk to Rainbow Falls from the Reds Meadow area, the roar of the falls and the refreshing mists invite you to stay and enjoy a picnic lunch. Be sure to bring your camera—midday, when the sun is highest, is the best time capture the rainbows for which the falls are named. 

The Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls / Reds Meadow area is located 10 miles past Mammoth Mountain Ski Area's Main Lodge on State Highway 203. A mandatory shuttle bus is required during the busy summer months and departs from the Adventure Center at the base of Mammoth Mountain and The Village at Mammoth. Closed in winter.

Bodie  Historic Park

Bodie is an original mining town from the late 1800’s. What’s left today stands in a state of “arrested decay” and is maintained by the California State Parks System, who took over the town in 1962 to make it a State Historic Park.  

In 1859 William (a.k.a. Waterman) S. Bodie discovered gold near what is now called Bodie Bluff. A mill was established in 1861 and the town began to grow. It started with about 20 miners and grew to an estimated 10,000 people by 1880! By then, the town of Bodie bustled with families, robbers, miners, store owners, gunfighters, prostitutes and people from every country in the world. At one time there was reported to be 65 saloons in town. Among the saloons were numerous brothels and ‘houses of ill repute’, gambling halls and opium dens – an entertainment outlet for everyone.

Yosemite National Park

First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. 

What is there to do in Yosemite? This common question is a difficult one to answer... because there are so many answers.

The southern entrance to the park is about a 30-minute drive from Mammoth Lakes and the valley floor is about a 1.5 hour drive.

Yosemite Website

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Mono Basin is full of natural things to see. Besides the magnificent Tufa, there are the Mono Basin Volcanoes, and the Panum Crater. The Mono Basin map will show you how to get around. A great place to start this tour is at the Visitor Center.

Hiking, swimming, boating, and cross-country skiing are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy at this unusual lake. The Tufa at Mono Lake are the showpiece of your visit to Mono Lake. The local springs contain calcium and when mixed with the high concentration of carbonate create the tufa which rise up out of the water. There are great forest ranger guided trips at Mono Lake, so stop by the visitor centers go get information and get on one of the tours.