What more could you ask for than mountains, lakes and beautiful natural scenery for your California vacation? Mammoth Lakes travel has it all, including every outdoor recreational activity you can think of, great shopping, plenty of places to dine and beautiful vacation rentals (choose from Mammoth cabins to ski in out condos) to make you feel right at home.

What to Do in Mammoth Lakes

There is plenty to do on Mammoth Lakes vacations, regardless of what time of the year you visit. There are plenty of activities available in both the summer and winter, many of which center around outdoor recreation.

mammoth lakes vacations

Biking

Inyo National Forest has a full network of biking trails, offering so many different views of the area that you actually cross over a couple of different micro-climates along the way. If you prefer paved bike routes, then you can check out the town or take in the scenic routes of U.S. Highway 395. The skiing slopes of Mammoth Mountain become a mountain biker’s paradise in the summer months.

Birding

Nearly 300 species of birds live in or migrate to the Eastern Sierra area of Mammoth Lakes. Some Among the beautiful winged creatures you may find are hummingbirds, the Mountain Bluebird, Western Tanager, American Goldfinch, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, and even the Steller's Jay.

Water Sports

Rent a paddleboat, canoe or kayak and enjoy the waters of Mammoth Lakes Basin. Crowley Lake and Grant Lake allow water skiing and jet skis, but no rentals are available, so be sure to bring your own equipment with you.

Fishing

The Mammoth Lakes Basin is a great spot to fish for Alpers, Rainbow, Brook and Brown Trout. You can rent boats on site and typically find a tackle shop if you need it. The Department of Fish and Game does regulate fishing in the area. Anglers 16 years and older must obtain a fishing license, typically available at a local tackle shop. You can purchase an annual pass, one-day pass or two-day pass. However, there are two free fishing Saturdays each year, one in July and one in September, when a license is not a requirement. Fishing season begins every year on the last Saturday in April and ends on November 15, so plan your vacation accordingly.

mammoth lakes rock climbing

Rock Climbing

The Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center offers rock climbing activities for young and old. Their 35-foot vertical climb rock is kid friendly, and younger children can take on the “Little Kids Climbing Wall.” There’s also a 100 foot zip line that coasts over a small lake and forest for those age 13 and over.

Skiing

The mountains surrounding Mammoth Lakes are a great place to go skiing in the winter months. At over 11,000 feet in elevation, Mammoth Mountain has over 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, receiving an average of more than 400 inches of snow each year. If you prefer to avoid the skiing crowds, schedule your Mammoth Lakes travel for late April, when you can hit the slopes in the morning and take in a round of golf that afternoon.

Dogsledding

Take the whole family on a dogsled ride through Mammoth Lakes, nestled together under a warm blanket amidst the cool winter chill. Enjoy beautiful scenery as you experience travel of old. Get to know the friendly malamutes and huskies bred and trained to take you on this once in a lifetime adventure.

Snowmobiling

Rent a snowmobile and experience 80 miles of groomed trails over 75,000 acres of a vast expanse of white in the untracked snow. There is nothing like the rush of winter wind against your face and the blow of white powder behind you as you race through trees and over hills, with beauty all around you.

Photography

Mammoth Lakes vacations are a photographer’s paradise. The scenery is breathtaking and affords every possibility for amazing photographs. The summer months are perfect for capturing beautiful greenery, and rainbow studded waterfalls. Fall brings beautiful colors of aspens and cottonwoods, with evergreens accenting the fall foliage. The ice and snow of the winter months provides a beauty photographers will feel compelled to capture.

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What to See in Mammoth Lakes

mammoth lakes travel

Bodie State Historic Park

If you’re looking for something new and different to experience, then Bodie State Historic Park is one place you must see while traveling in the Mammoth Lakes area. This genuine California gold rush ghost-town is bound to peak anyone’s interest. Once populated with nearly 10,000 people, Bodie is now the resting place of deserted buildings in a state of “arrested decay.” Be sure to bring a camera because you can’t take home any souvenirs from the park, not even a rock.

Devils Postpile National Monument

One of nature’s awe-inspiring creations, Devils Postpile formed when basalt lava crept from a vent in the valley located in the middle fork of San Joaquin River, filling the valley to approximately 400 feet high. Glaciers flowed in the area many years later, quarrying away half of the postpile and revealing a 60 foot wall of basalt columns. Hike to the top to see how the glaciers smoothed the top of the basalt columns and check out the spectacular view from the bottom.

Rainbow Falls

Just two miles from Devils Postpile, San Joanquin River tumbles over a 101-foot cliff. The result is a beautiful rainbow at the base of the falls. Visit at midday, when the sun is at its highest point, to capture the rainbow in its full glory. Bring along a blanket and picnic lunch and relax amidst the calming sound of the falls.

Mammoth Lakes Basin

The lakes of the Mammoth Lakes Basin were formed thousands of years ago by glacier flow. Drive down Lake Mary Road to access Twin Lakes, Lake Mary, George, Mamie and Horseshoe Lakes. They are all popular spots for trout fishing, boating and water sport activities. There are also plenty of sightseeing opportunities that are a photographer’s dream.

Hot Creek

Just three miles from Mammoth Junction is Hot Creek, where live hot springs and gas vents flow into a cool mountain stream, producing clouds of steam. In fact, the temperature of the springs makes for fantastic trout egg incubation, making this an ideal location for Hot Creek Fish Hatchery.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Mammoth Lakes

mammoth lakes travelNearly 100 stores and shops dot the city of Mammoth Lakes, offering you opportunities to purchase everything from things you forgot to bring along with you to items you must take home. Stock up on sports gear at bicycle stores, mountain climbing shops and ski supply stores. Shop in clothing boutiques and find something fun to add to your wardrobe. Check out art galleries and shops offering work produced by local artists. Don’t forget to pick up some Mammoth Lakes souvenirs along the way.

Every possible dining experience you can desire is available in Mammoth Lakes. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite between recreation activities, an intimate setting to romance your spouse or a fun family dining atmosphere everyone can enjoy, you’ll find it all on Mammoth Lakes vacations. The cuisine selections are vast, including American, Asian, café style, California style, French, German, Italian, Indian, Mexican, pizza, seafood and Thai.

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When to Visit Mammoth Lakes

Ideal Mammoth Lakes travel depends upon what activities you want to enjoy. Summer travel opens up opportunities for water sports and outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Winter is prime time for skiing, dogsledding and snowmobile rides.

There are also plenty of festivals to enjoy throughout the year. July brings the Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee, bringing nearly 20 bands from across the globe to perform for attendees. The Mammoth Lakes Fine Arts Festival occurs in August followed by the Labor Day Arts and Crafts Festival. Throughout the summer there are several music festivals, including Bluesapalooza and Festival of Beers, Blue Sky Music Festival, Sierra Summer Festival and Mammoth Music Festival. The Christmas season brings the town’s tree lighting festivities.

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What to Bring to Mammoth Lakes

The weather in Mammoth Lakes can change quickly, so you need pack clothing appropriate for many weather types. During the summer months from April to September, average temperatures range from 70 to 80 degrees during the day and can drop down to the 40’s in the evening. The average temperatures in winter (October to March) are daily highs in the 40’s and evening lows in the teens. If you’re driving to the area you should always have snow chains on hand, just in case.

If you plan to participate in water sports on a summer vacation to Mammoth Lakes, you should probably bring a wetsuit or prepare to purchase one when you arrive. Even in the summer, the high altitude of Mammoth Lakes keeps the water cold. A wetsuit will help keep your body heat insulated.

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Local Services in Mammoth Lakes

Rental facilities are available for all sorts of activities in the Mammoth Lakes area, such as boating. Tackle shops dot the lakes to supply anglers with all their fishing supply needs. Additionally, most of the lakes along the Mammoth Lakes Basin have picnic areas available.

Mammoth Lakes also has over 20 spas and salons in the area to indulge your every relaxing need and desire. Everything from massages and facial treatments to fitness facilities and yoga classes are available.

In case of an area emergency, such as an avalanche or fire, the community of Mammoth Lakes has resources available even for visitors to stay informed. Listening to radio stations 106.5 or 93.5 will provide continuous updates, as well as tuning into television stations 51, 33 and 72.

The Mammoth Transit System provides free transportation for riders on all fixed city routes. The Mammoth Shuttle services are also available between a variety of destinations along several routes. Car rental services are available, as well as taxi services.

Many travelers to the area like to bring their dogs along to participate in the outdoor summer activities. Boarding and dog sitting services are available, as well as veterinary facilities.

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What to Know About Mammoth Lakes

It’s important to note that it’s illegal to use a cell phone while driving in Mammoth Lakes. The only exception is if you have a hands-free device (and you must be at least 18 years old to use that).

If you visit during winter months and stay in one of the many Mammoth Lakes vacation rentals with a wood burning stove, you need to take certain precautions for fire safety. The Mammoth Lakes Fire Department recommends burning only seasoned wood and avoid burning trash. Make sure the vacation rental has operating smoke detectors on every floor and inside every sleeping area. Be sure to keep flammable objects at least three feet from the fire and keep embers in the fireplace with a screen or door.

Mono County Search and Rescue also recommends that you take specific supplies with you on every outing in the Mammoth Lakes area. Your safety kit should include a map, a compass, water, extra clothes, extra food, flashlight and extra batteries and bulb, a firestarter of some type (matches or lighter), knife, first aid kit, plastic trowel, toilet paper, whistle and a fully charged mobile phone.

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Getting to Mammoth Lakes

If you’re driving, Mammoth Lakes is approximately six hours from Los Angeles, seven and a half hours from San Diego, three hours from Reno, and five to seven hours from the Bay Area. Horizon Air offers nonstop flights from Los Angeles, San Jose and Reno airports to Mammoth Lakes, with one stop services from Seattle and Portland. Amtrak provides train service from Merced, California to Mammoth Lakes via Yosemite National Park during the summer months.

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Why Mammoth Lakes Vacation Rentals?

Mammoth Lakes vacation rentals make your traveling experience all the more enjoyable. It gives you the chance to feel at home on your vacation, taking advantages of all the comforts and amenities that a condo or lake house cottage has to offer that you can’t find in a hotel. Many of these accommodations offer fully equipped kitchens, private parking and even hot tubs. Look for condos right on the Mammoth Lakes Basin for a spectacular view.

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