With pristine lakes, epic views and mountain biking in the summer and skiing/riding and snowshoe tours in the summer, Mammoth offers adventure in every season. Just be sure to arrive with a 4WD high-clearance vehicle to explore backcountry roads.
Hot Creek Geological Site is a surreal destination that features bubbling blue pools, fumaroles and randomly erupting geysers in the shadow of towering Sierra Nevada peaks.
1. Hike the Lake Mary Scenic Road
While many associate Mammoth Lakes with winter skiing and world-class snow sports, the mountain town is just as beautiful in summer. Its serene Sierra Nevada Mountains welcome outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels with epic experiences like heart-pounding mountain bike rides, fly fishing on peaceful lakes and streams, or a relaxing afternoon hike.
One of the best summer activities in Mammoth is a hiking trip up the scenic Lake Mary Road, which passes several alpine lakes and offers spectacular views of the Twin Lakes Basin. You can also visit the popular Rainbow Falls, where the water reflects two rainbows in its mist. This trail is also the starting point for via ferrata, which is a safer and easier version of rock climbing with safety cables and iron rungs that help you make your way up rocky cliffs.
Another great summer hike is the 3.1-mile out and back trek to Crystal Lake, which features granite rock features and an alpine lake at the end of the trail. The route also travels through stunning forest with fir trees, pines, and hewn manzanita, so make sure to bring your camera.
2. Rent a Mountain Bike
Many people think of Mammoth as a ski town, but the summer is the best time to enjoy this mountain oasis. From heart-pounding mountain bike rides to fly fishing on pristine lakes, this outdoor adventure paradise has something for everyone.
A day trip to Wil Willy’s Hotsprings is a fun and relaxing way to soak in the Sierra Nevada views. This naturally heated stream and pool reaches temperatures of 95-100oF, perfect for enjoying the tranquility of nature and the scenic mountains.
The Mammoth Mountain Bike Park opens Memorial Day Weekend and offers over 80 miles of scenic cross-country trails as well as heart-thumping downhills. Guests can rent a mountain bike at several local sporting goods businesses in town including Get Outdoors 365 and FOOTLOOSE Sports. They offer a variety of full-suspension and hardtail bikes for adults as well as children. The bike park also has e-bikes available and several packages that include rentals, tickets, and lessons.
If bike park riding isn’t your thing, Mammoth has miles of paved bike paths and quiet dirt fire roads to explore. You can even rent an e-bike to make it easier to tackle the uphills! Visit the local shops to see what they have in stock.
3. Explore Devils Postpile National Monument
The awe-inspiring Devils Postpile National Monument is a geologic wonder in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. This unique formation consists of a series of hexagon-shaped columns created when basalt lava cooled and cracked. A visit to this natural attraction is a must for anyone who wants to see the power and beauty of Mother Nature.
Located along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, Devils Postpile National Monument is home to several hiking trails and other fun activities. Take a short hike to the columnar basalt formation and check out 101-foot Rainbow Falls. Alternatively, enjoy a more strenuous day of hiking through the Reds Meadow Valley on the John Muir Trail, part of the Pacific Crest Trail that spans from Canada to Mexico.
The monument is also a popular destination for via ferrata, which is an easier and safer version of rock climbing that uses safety cables and iron rungs to help you make your way up the steep rocks. It’s a great activity for the whole family and allows even children as young as 10 to climb safely and have fun exploring this impressive natural formation.
4. Go Horseback Riding
Mammoth Lakes is a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. In winter, the powdery snow draws snowboarders and skiers from all over, while summer offers a variety of activities that put a different spin on things like hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
One of the most popular activities is to take a guided horseback riding tour through the Eastern Sierra backcountry. Local pack outfitters offer rides of varying lengths and difficulty. You can choose from short trails in the Mammoth Lakes Basin or multi-day pack trips into remote areas.
Aside from allowing you to explore the Sierra Nevada mountains in a way that can’t be achieved by foot, you will also enjoy the many health benefits of horseback riding. The physical activity is demanding and requires balance, strength, flexibility, and agility. You will burn calories while riding and, as a result, improve your cardiovascular fitness and lower your blood pressure.
There’s nothing quite like putting on a cowboy hat and strapping a saddle to your back to feel as though you are one with a majestic beast that is helping you explore the landscape around you. It’s a feeling that will stay with you long after your visit is over.
5. Climb a Crater
Many people think of Mammoth as a ski town, but the mountains are just as beautiful in summer. Take a hike up to the craters for some spooky views. The trail is easy enough for most, but it can get a little steep and challenging for flatlanders due to the high elevation.
The craters are the result of pressurized steam that exploded in quick succession and heated up the Earth’s crust. It’s an interesting geologic wonder and a fun way to see the mountains from a different perspective.
From the craters, you can also look down on Mammoth Lakes from above. It’s a unique sight to behold, especially with all the snow from December. The trail is a bit of a trek from the town, but it’s well worth it. Just be sure to bring water and plenty of snacks.
To get to the craters, head north on Highway 203/Minaret Road from town and then turn right on Mammoth Scenic Loop. There will be signs for the Inyo Craters at the turn and during the splits on the dirt road. It’s a short 1.6-mile round trip to visit the craters and walk around them. You can also park at the Dry Creek Road Spur parking lot and hike an additional 1.4 miles each way.
6. Visit the Mammoth Museum
While Mammoth is best known for its world-class skiing and snow sports, summer is just as much a playground. Relaxing hot springs, mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding can all be enjoyed during the summer months. The village is quieter than it is during winter and roads are thawed, making accessing the backcountry easy.
Take in a new perspective by taking a ride on the Mammoth Mountain Gondola. The gondola is elevated high over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, giving you an amazing view of the lakes and forest below.
Visit the Mammoth Museum to learn more about the area and its natural history. The museum is full of interesting exhibits that will appeal to visitors of all ages. For example, the large woolly mammoth skull and tusks will fascinate children, while adults can admire the detailed work that went into creating the exhibits.
Another popular activity is to hike the trail to Duck Lake. This pristine lake is a reward for a hard-earned hike, and it is also home to a number of wildlife species. The hike is particularly beautiful during the fall, as the surrounding mountains and forests put on a dazzling display of color.
7. Visit a Ghost Town
Mammoth Lakes is known for its pristine alpine lakes and breathtaking mountain scenery, but this charming little town has plenty of epic adventures that are equally as exciting. Whether you love heart-pounding mountain bike rides, fly fishing on peaceful lakes and streams, or just a casual afternoon hike, there’s something for everyone in this incredible summer vacation destination.
One of the most fascinating places to visit near Mammoth Lakes is Bodie, a ghost town that was left frozen in time by a gold mining boom. During its peak during the Comstock Lode Gold Rush, the town was home to 10,000 residents. Today, it’s one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the world that allows visitors to explore the life of a Wild West community in “arrested decay.”
Wander the abandoned streets, peeking into the saloons and the schoolhouse where lessons were still written on blackboards. It’s like the town is waiting for the residents to return and once again reclaim their lives. You can also learn more about the history of this ghost town by signing up for a guided tour.
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