Recently Stephan and I took a trip to Mammoth Lakes for the first time! It was originally a work trip since we had to shoot a wedding there at the end of the week. But, because it was a 5-hour drive from us, we decided to spend 5 days camping and exploring! After lots of hikes, sunrises, and sunsets, I really can’t believe I’ve been living in California since 2018 and just now got to see this place. I shared a lot about our trip on Instagram and now here’s the Blog Post you guys asked for! This isn’t a guide of ALL things to do, but some. Because we only had 5 days, we had to pick and choose, there’s seriously so much to do there. So here it is, some of the most amazing things to do in Mammoth Lakes:
#1 Rainbow Falls
If you’ve seen photos of this place on Social Media let me tell you that yes, it is as impressive and beautiful as you see it online. Sometimes we see so much of a place on Instagram or Facebook that our expectations grow and we end up disappointed, but it was not the case. Rainbow Falls is most definitely worth the 5-mile round trip hike! Once you’ve seen the upper view, make your way down the staircase and see it from up close! It’s worth the hike back, I promise.
*Pro-tip: start hiking early. This is a famous hike and it can get crowded. We arrived at the trailhead parking lot at 7 am, and it was nice and cool, and most importantly, empty!
#2 Devil’s Postpile National Monument
This isn’t categorized as a National Monument for no reason. Devil’s Postpile is one of the coolest things you’ll see in Mammoth Lakes! You’ll see it on the way to Rainbow Falls, it’s only 1 mile from the trailhead. These unusual rock formations will blow your mind!
*Pro-tip: check out the upper view! It’s a steep way up, but we loved it once we were at the top. It was really cool getting to see these columns from above! And from there, you can just make your way to Rainbow Falls from above and then the trails will merge in together.
#3 South Tufas at Mono Lake
These Tufa Towers are definitely worth seeing, but here’s my main tip: make your way there in the morning. We chose to watch the sunrise there and it was super nice for two reasons: quiet, no people, and most importantly, COOL WEATHER! Because let me tell you, it gets HOT there. The day before that sunrise we went there at about 4 PM to check out the area, and we were melting, grumpy, and over it lol. So if you want to see the Tufas, go early in the morning!
#4 Hot Creek Geological Site
We made our way to Hot Creek right after we had watched the sunrise at the Tufas. We arrived at around 7:15 am, and there was not a single human there! It was so nice! By the way, these are not your typical hot springs and NO, you can NOT go in the water. The water temperature is scalding hot and super dangerous, but it’s still beautiful and worth seeing!
#5 Lake George + Twin Falls Overlook
Lake George was one of our favorite lakes! There are so many to choose from, it can be overwhelming. But I’m super glad we chose to finish one of our days there and watch the sunset by this lake. The Twin Falls Overlook (as it is on Google Maps) is pretty close, and such a beautiful viewpoint! You don’t need to hike to see it, just park your car and enjoy the view!
#6 Convict Lake
One of the most epic lakes in the area. You can do the trail around the lake in just 1 hour, and it’s really worth it! We shot an elopement there around sunset, and we couldn’t have asked for a better “office” that day! Check out the elopement gallery HERE!
We also decided to wake up at 5:30 am one day and watch the sunrise at this lake! The pink color on the mountains and the beautiful reflections were out of this world! Was it worth the early wake-up call? YES!
#7 June Lake
If you’re looking for a good lake to swim, June Lake is your spot! This lake is huge and beautiful (I know, they all are), and there’s plenty of space for everyone to swim! The water is nice and fresh and it was the perfect mid-afternoon stop for us to cool down! We loved it so much that we decided to eat dinner there (aka peanut butter & banana sandwiches) and stay until sunset!
#8 Duck Pass Trail – hike to Skeleton Lake
If I’m not mistaken, this trail is a 14-mile round trip total. BUT, here’s the best part: you don’t need to hike all that to see beautiful lakes! Just 1.5 miles into the trail you’ll stumble upon Skeleton Lake! And this was definitely one of our favorite lakes on the whole trip! It’s important to know that up until you get to the lake is all uphill, and you’re in altitude. So 1.5 miles feel much harder than it should but, again, I promise you it’s worth the effort!
#A few other things
- Camping: would DEFINITELY recommend it. It was a blast, even though we struggled to find a first-come-first-serve open spot (we looked at 5 or 6 campgrounds before we were able to reserve one). We ended up staying at New Shady Rest Campground and loved it! For Campgrounds Info and Reservations, check out Recreation.Gov.
- Altitude: Mammoth Lakes is pretty high up in the Sierras. So always remember to carry water with you, drink LOTS of it, and get plenty of rest! Altitude sickness is a real thing.
- When I share these locations with you guys, I want you to know that I do that to motivate people to explore places. Traveling is one of the best things you can do in life, no doubt. BUT, I also always need to point out one very important thing: TO PRACTICE LEAVE NO TRACE. We need to be better and leave this world better than how we found it. Please, please, stay on the path, always take your trash with you, and follow the National Forest’s rules guidelines!
Thinking of having your wedding in Mammoth Lakes? Let us help! We love to help with elopement planning and finding gorgeous locations! Contact us and let’s do this!