As one of California’s most popular ski areas, Mammoth Lakes is a hive of activity all winter long. But what isn’t as well known is that there's a range of activities available in the summer as well. After the snow melts, the flowers bloom, and the bears come out of hibernation, Mammoth is a great destination for hikers, boaters, and cyclists. Nearby are numerous natural wonders. Whether you’re planning a long weekend in the area or two weeks, you won’t get bored.
What To Do In Mammoth Lakes
Finding things to do in Mammoth Lakes is the easy part. Narrowing down that list to match the length of your stay is the hard part. A bit of research in advance of your trip will be helpful so that you have an idea of what interests you. But do allow some flexibility in your schedule to account for weather changes and unexpected opportunities from Mother Nature.
Hit The Trails
With more than three dozen trails ranging in distance from 1.5 to 22 miles, there is a hike for everyone in Mammoth Lakes. And one of the best ways to select a hike is with the help of the experts at the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center, which you’ll see as you enter town. Even if you’ve done your research and know which trails interest you, it can be helpful to get up-to-date information. Depending on when you visit, some trails may still be blocked by snow or unadvised due to wildfires. Also keep in mind that the higher altitude may make some trails more challenging.
If you’re looking for an easy trail that follows a deep blue alpine lake, head south to Convict Lake. The 3-mile loop around the lake provides plenty of tree cover to stay cool as well as views of snowy mountain peaks.
For something more challenging, head north to the Fern Lake Trail. This 7.8-mile out-and-back trail provides great views of June Lake. Along the way, you’ll cross a log bridge over a rushing stream. There is a 1,500-foot elevation gain over the course of the hike, so this is only recommended for those who are very fit.
Float Or Fish
With five lakes inside the border of Mammoth and more than 100 nearby, this is an ideal destination for boating and fishing. Get out early to catch some trout, or spend a lazy afternoon in a kayak watching eagles soar high in the sky. Bring your own equipment, or rent what you need.
If you’re not bringing your own equipment, head to Lake Mary Marina to purchase fishing supplies or rent a variety of boats. Available boats include kayaks, pontoons, canoes, and pedal boats. Two other places to consider for boating and fishing are June Lake and Lake George.
Check Out Yosemite
Less than an hour north of Mammoth Lakes is the iconic Yosemite National Park. While this is a destination in and of itself, Mammoth provides a quieter and less hectic base during the peak summer season.
Since you’ll be entering at the eastern gate, you’ll want to plan to see the closest sights, which include Tuolumne Meadows, Lembert Dome, Cathedral Lakes, and Tioga Pass. Start at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, where a ranger is always on duty to answer your questions. If you’re up for a very challenging hike, try the 2.8-mile uphill trail at Lembert Dome. And if you want to see Yosemite’s most scenic lake, head to Tenaya Lake.
If you don’t want to drive to Yosemite, take the local public transportation system, YARTS. Once in the park, switch to the free shuttle bus. All of this cuts down on traffic and allows you to avoid repeatedly parking.
For more to see and do in Yosemite, see this page.
See Devils Postpile National Monument
Next to Mammoth Lakes is Devils Postpile National Monument, an unusual rock formation made of columnar basalt believed to have been created by lava flow less than 100,000 years ago. From the visitor center, there are two short hikes -- one to the top of the rock formation and the other to the bottom.
Another popular destination within the area is Rainbow Falls, a waterfall on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. Both the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail merge into one as they pass through the monument.
It’s important to know that visitors may only enter the monument by a shuttle bus, which can be accessed at The Village at Mammoth. To avoid crowds, catch the earliest shuttle of the day.
Mammoth Lakes is considered a world-class mountain-biking destination. Here you’ll find exciting downhill tracks as well as miles of scenic cross-country trails. Whether you’re a pro or a first-timer, you’ll find this a perfect cycling destination.
If you’re looking for some fun public-access trails, try the Mammoth Rock Trail, the Panorama Dome Trail, or the Horseshoe Lake Loop. If you want to venture farther out, you’ll find some longer options like the Sand Canyon Trail and the White Mountain Trail.
The Mammoth Mountain Bike Park offers a variety of trails of all levels of difficulty along with a gondola service to take you uphill. A day pass is required for the park, and bike rentals are available.
Take In The Views
As you glide up 11,053 feet in the Panorama Gondola, you’ll get a 360-degree view of the Sierra Nevada. At the top, be sure to allow time to check out the Eleven53 Interpretive Center to learn more about the geology of the area. There are also trails if you’re inclined to hike, but keep in mind that at this altitude, the exercise will be a bit harder.
Where To Eat In Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth is chock-full of excellent restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisines. And during the summer, you likely won’t need reservations.
Mammoth Rock Brasserie
If you’re celebrating a special occasion -- or just want to splurge -- head to Mammoth Rock Brasserie. The menu centers on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients accompanied by an impressive wine list. Don’t be fooled by its location in a bowling alley; this second-floor restaurant is stylishly decorated and offers great views of the mountains.
Petra’s Bistro & Wine Bar
For dinner in a cozy and intimate setting, check out Petra’s Bistro & Wine Bar. Serving contemporary American cuisine prepared by Chef Radisson Williams, Petra’s sources much of its food from local ranchers and farmers.
The Restaurant At Convict Lake
If you enjoyed the hike around the lake, then you’ll definitely want to have a meal at The Restaurant at Convict Lake. Regulars recommend ordering the rainbow trout when it’s in season and then finishing up with the Bananas Foster.
For a casual but hearty breakfast or lunch, try The Stove. This is a nice option if you’re looking to fill up before a long hike or bike ride, and it’s perfect if you’re traveling with the grandkids.
Where To Shop In Mammoth Lakes
If you need a break from all the outdoor activities, check out some of the shops Mammoth Lakes has to offer.
The Village At Mammoth
The Village at Mammoth has an assortment of shops, restaurants, accommodations, and live entertainment venues, making it a popular place to hang out for a few hours. If you’re looking to pick up a few souvenirs, then head to the Mammoth Shirt Co. for T-shirts, activewear, hats, and jewelry. For outdoor gear, try Mammoth Sports.
Whether you ski, snowboard, bike, hike, or camp, Footloose Sports is ready to help. In addition to a large selection of items for purchase, they also rent equipment during the winter and summer seasons.
Bleu Market & Kitchen
Many visitors to Mammoth choose to rent condos during their stay, which allows them the use of a kitchen. Bleu Market & Kitchen is a popular destination to stock the kitchen with gourmet items to enjoy after an active day. Offering everything from fresh bread and charcuterie to seafood and craft beer, this is where you’ll want to shop.
Where To Stay In Mammoth
As both a winter and summer resort town, Mammoth Lakes has a wide range of accommodations.
The Westin Monache Resort
If you’re looking for luxury accommodations, you can’t go wrong with The Westin Monache Resort. This pet-friendly resort features many amenities, including a fitness center, pool, full-service restaurant, and ski storage.
The Village Lodge At Mammoth
If you want to stay in the heart of the action, then make a reservation at The Village Lodge at Mammoth. This is a nice option for those traveling with families or larger groups, since condos with up to three bedrooms are available. Each condo includes a fully stocked kitchen.
Mammoth Lakes is an ideal base from which to explore the Eastern Sierras region and all its beauty. While this is certainly a premier ski destination, it’s also a spectacular spot to spend time in the summer. Once you visit, you’ll want to return again and again.