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10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Mammoth Lakes

est Places to Visit in Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is one of the most beautiful places in California with tons of huge mountains, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. This is truly an outdoor lover’s paradise, and Mammoth Lakes has so much to keep you busy for months! Choose from the many activities that are most likely to include the stunning beauty of nature. As the name suggests, Mammoth Lakes has majestic mountains that make it very special to see it in person.

Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Mammoth Lakesand make your trip enjoyable.

10 Best Places to Visit in Mammoth Lakes

Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Mammoth Lakes:

1. Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center

I admit I don’t always go to the Welcome Center in most places I visit, but it was a great stop. Why? Why? Depending on the time of year you visit, it’s important to be aware of any roads, crossings or trails that are closed due to the weather. You don’t want to drive for 30 minutes to an hour and then realize you can’t get through. They can also let you know if you come across any wildlife and best practices.

The Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center has someone to answer any questions and get tips on what to do, especially during seasonal events or festivals. You can carry plenty of maps and brochures with you. There is even a gift shop where you can buy travel souvenirs. If you plan on backpacking on one of the many trails, you will need a wildlife permit available at the Welcome Center. As you enter the town of Mammoth Lakes, you will pass by the Welcome Center, so stop by and visit!

Working Hours: Open from 8 am to 5 pm.

Address: 2510 Main Street, Mammoth Lakes, CA

2. Hike Mammoth Lakes

There are so many hiking options in the Mammoth Lakes area that choosing which hike to choose can be overwhelming. I’ll highlight a few favorites, but for an in-depth guide to mammoth trekking, read my post on 21 Epic Hikes In Mammoth Lakes for more. Wherever you go for a walk, be sure to pack enough water, a garbage bag, and your food in an unscented bag (bears can’t smell it).

I carry a physical map of the area for all these hikes and use the AllTrails mobile app to track my route. The app was very useful as I strayed from where I should have been, thank goodness I was able to fix it. Even though I had no cell phone coverage for nearly all of these walks, the app continued to track my location. But it’s useful to have a physical map, as a phone’s battery might not last a full day.

Within 15 minutes of Mammoth Lakes in the Lake Mary area, you can take epic walks and enjoy the stunning views in a matter of days. The Crystal Lake Walk is a hike with crazy views and you can see three lakes in total. It’s a steep climb to Crystal Lake, but you might miss Lake Mary and Lake George while trekking.

While not difficult, the two hikes that combine are Horseshoe Lake and Macleod Lake, both of which are breathtaking. If you’re looking for a longer, more intense hike, the Duck Pass Trail is for you! Depending on the path you choose during this walk, you will see 4-5 lakes. This is a natural trail worth the tough climb.

3. Devils Postpile

Devils Postpile National Monument is one of the stunning natural rock formations. After a 30-minute ride on Highway 203 via Mammoth, you will arrive at the Devils Postpile. The path from the parking lot to Devils Postpile is just 1.6 miles (round trip) from the Devils Postpile base. Devils Postpile is one of these impressive and beautiful national parks that you must see while in California.

Look above and marvel at basalt columns formed from cooled basalt lava about 82,000 years ago. The special composition of the minerals allows them to form perfectly symmetrical hexagonal columns. It’s surprising that they are formed so evenly side by side. It’s great to see these columns in action! Hard to believe this is natural, isn’t it? Most of the pillars you see have collapsed, but those still standing vertically are up to 60 feet high!

As you continue, you will see a sign on the left that goes up the hill behind the Devils Postpile. Don’t forget to reach the summit! The perspective view above shows the top of the column, which looks like a series of flagstones from the backyard patio. This is something unusual and fascinating. You can go down from the opposite side, then go down and go towards the path.

Parking: If you’re going in the spring or fall, you can go down and park at the Devils Postpile Trailhead. If you’re going during the summer months from mid-June to early September, you should park at the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge near the Adventure Center. The service fee is USD 8 per person.

4. Rainbow Falls

If you want more hiking, keep on the same path from Devils Postpile to Rainbow Falls. The round trip to Rainbow Falls is a 5 mile hike (including the distance from Ranger Station to Devil’s Pillar). If you go further down into Lower Falls, add another 1.3 miles for a total of 6.3 miles.

You might ask, is it worth seeing two waterfalls? That’s too fat yes! Of course if you like beautiful waterfalls. Rainbow Falls has an observation deck overlooking the 101-foot waterfall. If you’re lucky, when the sun is shining through the fog, you’ll see a rainbow flying through the fog. If you want a more up-close and personal view, cross the observation deck until you see the stairs leading to the bottom of the waterfall.

After spending some time taking these great photos, head up the stairs and follow the signs to Lower Falls. Instead of going back the same way, turn right along the road. Once you reach Lower Falls, you can either go down a boulder on one side or a dirt road on the far left.

If you bring your own lunch, this is the perfect place to sit down, relax and take in the stunning views of the Lower Falls. Although much smaller, I like it better than the larger Rainbow Falls. Probably because I was the only one there and it was quiet.

America Is Beautiful Pass is valid for one year from the date of purchase and includes 3 additional adults in your vehicle. If you’re only visiting 3 or more national parks or monuments, it’s worth buying and pure savings from now on!

5. Convict Lake

Prisoner Lake is probably one of the most beautiful lakes for Mammoths. You have something extra and your jaw drops and you say “wow”! I may be a little biased because I used to camp here with my family every year when I was a kid. Despite its stunning beauty, there are many good memories here.

Turning onto Convict Lake Road from Hwy 395, you’re greeted with a majestic high mountain that seems to invite you straight to Convict Lake. If you don’t like camping, there are cabins (Convict Lake Resort) you can stay in, which is something I’d like to go back to and do!

The hike around the entire Convict Lake is an easy 3-mile loop that must be done because of its natural beauty. You will enjoy the magnificent view of the lake and it is an added treat to see the leaves change color in autumn. Vibrant yellows and oranges are full of autumn joy!

At this point, you might be wondering why it’s called Prisoner Lake? In 1871, some criminals (prisoners) escaped from a prison in Carson City, Nevada. The sheriff traced the criminals to what is now the criminal lake district.

This event led to the sheriff’s unfortunate death. But the mountain above the lake was named after him, Mount Morrison. Some fugitives were caught and brought to justice, but the name remained. Despite its rich history, it is the most beautiful lake with clear water that will not disappoint you whenever you visit.

6. Earthquake Fault

The seismic fault is located within the Inyo National Forest just minutes from the town of Mammoth Lakes. For most people, when California is mentioned, earthquakes and fault lines come to mind. The Eastern Range was once a very active volcanic region and you could see a large “fault” up close on the Seismic Fault. The fault split between 550 and 650 years ago and is about 10 feet wide and 60 feet deep.

You could say it used to be a piece of land because both sides of the fault look like a puzzle that fits together perfectly. The Fault Walk is an easy 0.3 mile loop where you can take a leisurely walk. The fault lies in the ancient pine forests rising above the site. If you want to take a break and have lunch here, there are bathrooms and picnic tables.

7. Hot Creek Geologic Site

Not far from Mammoth Yosemite Airport is a geological wonder where steaming hot water can be seen rising from the ground. The boiling temperature is due to the hot magma and part of the Canggu Crater located just 3 miles below the surface.

The Hot Creek geological site is a hot spring paradise that can only be seen from afar.
The Hot Creek geological site is a hot spring paradise that can only be seen from afar. Therefore, it is very dangerous to enter or approach a hot stream. When an earthquake hits the area, it releases new hot springs, so it’s unsafe or unstable for people to use.

When I was a kid, I had to get in here before the water got too hot and unstable. After several deaths, they had to pull it up with ropes to keep people from getting in.
In case you didn’t know, it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie or somewhere on another planet. Along Hot Creek are many small pools with turquoise waters that look very attractive. It’s really nice to see, but very dangerous to approach.

There is a fence to prevent approaching, but you can have a view of the creek from the top of the parking lot or from the ramp. Visits to the Hot Creek geological site are free and include parking, restrooms, and picnic tables.

8. Chase Fall Colors

One of the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes in the fall is to look for the ever-changing foliage colors. There are several places to drive or hike to see the bright yellows and oranges that surround lakes, rivers, and canyons.

Mid-September and mid-October are the best times to see the vibrant and stunning colors of the East Mountains. I was there during my travels from mid-October to the first week of November and it was amazing to see. At each Mammoth Lake, you will see different fall colors for different lakes. Much depends on altitude and temperature.

South of Mammoth Lakes, fall colors abound at Convict Lake, McGee Creek, Rock Creek Canyon, and Bishop Creek Canyon. Driving the June Loop, its four lakes, just north of Mammoth Lakes, will provide plenty of stunning fall color throughout the loop. Lundy Gorge is about 30 minutes north of June Circle. It leads to Lake Lundy, where colorful poplars lead to the lake.

A short drive north (20 minutes) from Lundy Canyon takes you to Lake Virginia, which also has aspen groves and is a great photo opportunity. Both Lake Lundy and Lake Virginia are great for hiking and trout fishing! In September and October, red leaves are in bloom along Route 395, so you can’t go wrong no matter what lakes and walkways you cruise!

9. June Loop

The June Loop consists of four lakes that form a loop on Highway 395, about a 30-minute drive north of Mammoth Lakes. The main town and the first lake you come to are June Lake and June Lake Village. The 16-mile June Loop is one of the most scenic drives of any season in the East Mountains and is a lot of fun to explore.

On the loop, you’ll pass June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake. The first three are natural lakes, Lake Grant is man-made. You will also notice a dramatic change in terrain and scenery when you arrive at Grant Lake. It’s pretty bare and treeless, but still gorgeous in its own way.

Most places to stay, eat, and the shop is in June Village, next to June Lake. There really is something for everyone as it is perfect for fishing (rainbow trout), canoeing, SUP and hiking. If you come in the winter, June Mountain even has a small ski resort perfect for families and beginners.

Seagull Lake is an amazing place for fishing, picnicking and walking around as it is a beautiful lake next to Lake June. Next, you’ll see Silver Lake, one of my favorite places to go as it has great fishing and a beautiful campground. If you choose to stay here for a few days, you can camp, rent cabins, or stay at a resort in June, Gull, Silver, and June Lake Village.

If you visit in September or October, you’ll find plenty of fall leaves throughout the cycle. All four lakes are full of charm and complete peace. So no matter which lake you spend time in, you will be happy and rested.

10. Mono Lake

A visit to Mono Lake is one of those strange and fascinating sights to behold. What makes Mono Lake so special? It is one of the oldest lakes in North America, estimated to be between 760,000 and 3 million years old! It must be very old, which is one of the reasons it has such an interesting history.

What makes Mono Lake so unique is that it is a very alkaline lake with a pH of 10, which is ten times the salt content of the ocean. say salty! The chemical composition of the lake water consists of chlorides, carbonates and sulfates. Fish cannot survive due to the salty environment. There is no outlet that makes the lake too salty.

As you walk along the shores of the lake, you immediately feel like you are on another desolate or abandoned planet. However, there is a large number of brine shrimp, algae, and flies that call Mono Lake home and thrive. Be sure to head to the Southern Tuff National Preserve to see the alien-looking “tuff towers.” Tuff towers are calcium carbonate or limestone that form towers across Mono Lake.

From the parking lot, you can take a self-guided tour that creates a loop back to your car. There are indications of the history, composition and ecology of what you see. Arriving before sunset is the perfect time to see the lake in the warm glow of the sun. This is a very popular spot for photographers at sunset, so don’t be surprised to see many tripods set up!

If you’re visiting in the summer, take a dip in the lake to see how active you are. You will notice that the water will feel soft and somewhat silky as if there was soap in it. Another summer favorite is kayaking on your own or outings with Caldera Kayaks.


Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Mammoth Lakes. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Mammoth Lakes, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.

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