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Mammoth Lakes - California


Paiute Indians spent their summers around Mammoth -- mostly in the Sherwin Meadows -- hunting and grazing animals. Three major mining camps were formed in and around Mammoth in 1879, but fires soon destroyed the camps and -- by 1888 -- the mining towns had mostly disappeared. But tourism became an attraction, and in the 1920s and 30s, several lodges were constructed, including Tamarack Lodge which is still in operation on Twin Lakes. During the 1940s, skiing had become the engine which began to drive the local economy. Mammoth took off as a major resort town.

Mammoth Snow Information

Mammoth Mountain: Website | Snow Conditions

Opened for the season: November 5

June Mountain: Website | Snow Conditions

Projected Opening: Dcember 14

Mammoth Mountain ski resort has the longest season of any in California and attracts skiers from across the continent. Cross-country skiing is fast becoming a major activity at Mammotht. Tamarack Lodge Ski Area boasts 28 miles of groomed trails that lead through more than 3,500 acres of forest and lakes.

Occasional earthquakes in the Mammoth Lakes area have not deterred skiers, nor the local residents from servicing the needs of the thousands of tourists who visit the town. This has always been a quake-prone area, although the rumblings have been quieter than usual in recent months.

What to See and Do


Two excellent places provide viewpoints from which to see the stunning landscape of the Mammoth Lakes region. Panorama Dome -- reached by either Main Street (which becomes Lake Mary Road) or the winding Old Mammoth Road -- offers a great view of the town lying below, and the surrounding peaks. Minaret Vista also offers fine views, including the canyon of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, and the Minarets which are seen beyond the Ritter Range.

Picnic tables are found at the Vista, and a self-guiding tour takes you to geological highlights along the ridge. It is off Minaret Road, west of the Mammoth Lakes Ski Area.

Devil's Postpile

Minaret Road leads on, down the mountainside, to Devil's Postpile National Monument. From the parking lot, shuttle busses take you to the floor of the San Joaquin River Valley, with great views of the huge basalt columns, a volcanic formation which was created over millions of years. The effect of glaciers is seen when viewing the large slabs of broken posts above the river. The Monument is open only during summer months -- from early June. Rainbow Falls is seen by taking a short trail, which leads to the riverside below the falls. Several campgrounds are available along the river, inside the Monument. Red Meadows Resort has cabins and a restaurant, as well as fishing supplies and a pack station which offers trail rides. For information on the resort, call (619) 934-2345.


Nine nearby lakes in the Inyo National Forest provide opportunities for canoeing and fishing. A chain of lakes is reached via Lake Mary Road, and motorboats are permitted on Mary and Mamie lakes. The other lakes are open to boats and canoes without motors. Visitor facilities including a store, picnic areas, and accommodations, on Twin lakes, Lake Mary, Lake Mamie, and Lake George. There's a picnic area with a sandy beach at Horseshoe Lake. A trail, with trailheads at lake Mary and Lake George campgrounds, leads southwest to another chain of small alpine lakes, ending at Duck Lake.

Pack stations offer scenic trail rides throughout the Mammoth Lakes area. Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit (619-934-2345) is based near Lake Mary, offering hourly rides in the immediate area, and overnight camp trips through the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness areas, as well as in the Valentine and Laurel Lakes basin. Sierra Meadows Equestrian Center (934-6161) has guided trail rides by the hour or day, and offers riding instruction. Agnew Meadows Pack Station (619-934-2345) is near the Devil's Postpile entrance, offering day rides plus longer six-day and eight-day trips into the wilderness areas, including a ride to Toluene Meadows in Yosemite National Park. McGee Creek Pack Station (619-935-4324), also offers a variety of trail rides.

There are two golf courses in the area: the quite new Snowcreek Golf Course offers nine holes and a driving range, and you'll find a 18-hole course in Bishop, south of Mammoth via Highway 395.

The town's Parks and Recreation Department operates several parks and recreation sites, including the large Whitmore Pool, located ten miles south of town. This outdoor swimming pool provides great views of the Eastern Sierra and White Mountains. Shady Rest Park, at the end of Sawmill Cutoff, has a playground, picnic area, and sand volleyball court. Mammoth Creek Park, a newer facility on Old Mammoth Road, has picnic tables and a playground. Community Center Park, next to the library on Forest Trail, also has picnicking, with tennis courts and another playground.

A 50-mile bike trail system winds through the forest lands, and a trail map is available at the National Forest Information Center, on the entry road to Mammoth. It's also available at bike shops and the town Visitor Bureau. For all the information you need on skiing and other activities available in the Mammoth area, call the Bureau at (619) 934-2712, or visit the Visitor Bureau on Main Street.



Restaurants are mostly casual but a touch expensive. expensive but casual: Giovanni's, in the Minaret Village Mall is popular for pasta and pizza, with great lunchtime deals. Lakefront Restaurant , at Tamarack Lodge has great views of the lake and mountains and has very good food (expensive). If you like lighter food, go to the healthfood store Sierra Sundance, at the Mammoth Mall. You can buy juices and shakes, as well as the normal health food stock. Whiskey Creek, at Main and Minaret is a brewpub with large helpings of pub-style food.

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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