Mammoth Lakes California – A Summer Bucket List Destination

Mammoth Lakes California – A Summer Bucket List Destination

Recently, I traveled to Mammoth Lakes, California in celebration of one of my best friend’s 40th birthdays. It was a wonderful trip filled with tons of outdoor adventure and much needed respite. Most know Mammoth Lakes as a popular winter destination because it offers unbelievable skiing. But after spending a week during the summer, I came to realize that Mammoth Lakes California is an great summer destination as well. Here are my 11 reasons everyone should make Mammoth Lakes California – A Summer Bucket List Destination.

Mammoth Lakes California - A Summer Bucket List Destination makes me wish I was there! #VisitMammoth Click To Tweet

#1 It’s a great place for Hiking

According to Visit Mammoth, the area has over a dozen hiking trails amid the 2 million acres of Inyo National Forest. With the Sierras as a back drop, you are bound to find beauty everywhere you hike. Most of the trails are easily marked and paths are generally clear – depending on when in the summer season you hike. One particular hike we enjoyed was catching the John Muir trail around Sherwin Lakes.

Please note that with any outdoor adventure you should be prepared. Before heading out, check the weather and communicate your path with friends and family. It is also recommended you bring sunscreen, bug spray, plenty of water, a snack, and a map.

#2 It’s a great place for Fishing

For those of you that know me, fishing is one of those activities that tends to push the limits of my attention deficit. However, spending a day fishing in Mammoth Lakes was an unbelievable experience, even for me. In Mammoth, trout fishing is a wonderful adventure even if you don’t catch anything. I recommend going to Lake Mary with your gear, a chair, plenty of sunscreen, and a picnic lunch. Not only do you have a chance to catch the “big one” but the views alone will take your breath away.

Please Note that it is required to have a valid fishing license for anyone fishing over the age of 16 in California. A day license is around $15 and can be obtained at many stores in Mammoth Lakes or online at

#3 Mammoth Lakes is great for Biking

Whether you are an avid mountain biker or just like cruising around town on your beach cruiser, Mammoth Lakes has tons of options for you. You will find everything from paved routes to wild trails through the scenic forest. There are plenty of shops in town that will be more than happy to facilitate your desire to roll around on two wheels. We were able to rent bikes along with proper safety gear from Footloose Sports off of Main Street.

Please note that with any cycling adventure you should be prepared. Before heading out, check the weather and communicate with friends and family about your planned route. It is recommended you bring sunscreen, bug spray, plenty of water, a snack, and a map. Also, please wear proper safety gear like your helmet, protective pads, and possibly gloves at all times.

#4 Mammoth Lakes has some unbelievable Hot Springs

One of my favorite things to do while travelling is finding and swimming in hot springs! There is nothing better than soaking your sore muscles after a long day of hiking in a hot spring and due to Mammoth Lakes’ volcanic past the area is still full of hydrothermal springs. One of the best options is to visit Wild Willy’s Hot Spring off Benton Crossing Road. After parking, you take a leisurely stroll along a board walk and gravel path until you arrive at two separate pools. Each pool is shallow enough to sit down in most spots and just relax in the warm waters.

Another Hot Springs option that you should visit is the Hot Creek Geological Site. Known as Nature’s Cauldron, this spring is “hot” due to the rising of heat from vents leading to large magma below. It is a picturesque site and was also the location of several movies including John Wayne’s True Grit.

Please Note that it is strongly ill advised to swim in or around the Hot Creek Geological Site because of its extreme high temperatures. Also, there have been records of “geysering” of very hot, sediment-laden water as high as 6 feet which can cause injury and even death. PLEASE DONT SWIM AT THE HOT CREEK GEOLOGICAL SITE!

#5 You can see a real Earthquake Fault

Located off Highway 203 between the town of Mammoth Lakes and the ski resort, you can easily drive to see an amazing feat of nature. More properly known as the Earthquake Fissure, you can stand near the edge where the earth separated and revealed a gap due to a series of strong quakes perhaps from about 600 years ago. For us, it was a unique viewing experience as you are able to walk around the fenced off fissure exploring into its dark depths.

Mammoth Lakes, California is hot summer bucket list destination. #VisitMammoth #MammothStories Click To Tweet

#6 You can explore another world at Mono Lake

Mark Twain once called Mono Lake “one of the strangest freaks of nature to be found in any land.” This is perhaps due to the Tufas. Tufas are calcium-carbonate formations created by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. Along the 65 square miles of lake you will find these amazing land masses that will make you feel like you are on the surface of the moon. One of the highlights of our visit was to watch the Ospreys as they flew around the tops of the Tufa spires where they had made their nests.

#7 You can see where the Devil keeps his Posts in Mammoth

One of the coolest features in Mammoth is a collection of basalt columns collectively known as the Devils Postpile. These 60-foot basalt columns were formed when lava flowed through the valley some 100,000 years ago. Devils Postpile National Monument is open during the summer and offers fun for the whole family. To get to the Devils Postpile you need to take a shuttle from The Village. When you arrive, just hike about half a mile to the base, but be sure to take your time because there are countless birds, animals, and unbelievable flowers everywhere.

#8 Mammoth Lakes offers tons of Water Activities

If you are a water baby like me, then you will love the various water adventures you can find around Mammoth Lakes. If boating is your thing, you can easily find all kinds of rental services that will hook you up with everything from kayaks to full on motorboats – Lake Mary is a perfect spot for boating. In most places, you will also be able to find Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) rentals so you can cruise the lakes on your own power. However, if you would rather get into some water than on top of it, then put on your bathing suit and head on over to June Lake Beach. Here you can take a dip in the pristine nippy mountain lake while enjoying the incredible scenery.

Please note that with any water adventure you should be prepared. Before heading out, check the weather. It is recommended you bring sunscreen, bug spray, plenty of water, and a snack. Also, please notice that there aren’t lifeguards present, so be careful.

#9 You can Golf amid the Sierras with the occasional bear hazard

So I am not a golfer at all, but my good friend Brian loves it. One of his favorite golfing experiences is to playing at the Sierra Star Golf Course in Mammoth Lakes. As he said, Sierra Star offers a great opportunity for high altitude golfing where he can hit the ball a ton and work through the challenge of ball control on the approach of shots. This unique experience is only enhanced with the beautiful Sierras as a backdrop and the occasional bear walking near the course.

Mammoth Lakes is definitely on my Summer Bucket List now! #VisitMammoth #MammothStories #travel Click To Tweet

#10 You can return to civilization in The Village at Mammoth

After all that hiking, fishing, and just getting muddy outdoors, you might need a break from the woods. That is why I liked exploring the Village at Mammoth. With all the great restaurants, bars, and shops, the Village allowed us to clean up and just leisurely stroll through a beautiful outdoor mall. They also have all kinds of entertainment for the whole family which is a great bonus. Obviously, you will find fun concerts and festivals in their Plaza on the weekends, but one of my favorite things was the family Summer Movie events they put on in the Plaza every Thursday and Sunday. You can see what movies, festivals, comedy shows or other events are happening in the Village at Mammoth by visiting

#11 Mammoth Lakes allows you to Unplug and Reconnect with loved ones

Not all of my Bucket List items are about travel and adventure. Many items on my list are designed to help me reconnect with friends and family. So, often I pursue opportunities like spending a week in a cabin in Mammoth Lakes with my closest friends. During the week, we enjoyed sitting on the porch amid the wonderful aroma of the trees without any distractions of television, computers, or cell phones. There is just something about staying in a cabin in Mammoth Lakes that makes you want to read a book or play board games with your family.

Have you ever been to Mammoth Lakes? With all there is to do and experience there, do you think Mammoth Lakes California is A Summer Bucket List Destination? Which of the 11 reasons for Mammoth Lakes California – A Summer Bucket List Destination is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

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60 thoughts on “Mammoth Lakes California – A Summer Bucket List Destination

  1. I’ve never been to Mammoth Lakes but it looks amazing. Crazy I grew up in California and never once went there. The hot springs looks beautiful… in fact all of it does!

  2. Wow it sounds like a super awesome place to head for a bucket list. The last time I went to California was when I was 12 and I loved every bit of the memories I have of that place. But as an adult to be able to explore better would be even better! Thanks for sharing. One day I hope I can make it to that place. Great tips, btw!


  3. It’s a goal of mine to start seeing more of the US. I’m definitely pinning this to my travel board so I remember when I create a road trip plan 🙂

  4. Never heard of this place before but it looks amazing! Sam has spent some time in California but I’ve never been and im desperate to go, this place looks like itll make it for the many places we want to go in California! Great article!

  5. Never heard of Mammoth Lakes but am adding this to my bucket list! The cabin option sounds fantastic especially. I’m all about digital detox – getting away from phones and computers, etc. and love spending time with friends and family too. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Gotta love a 4 season park, especially if you’re a Californian. I’m no snow bunny so I’ll keep in mind for next summer

  7. Mammoth Lake looks like it’s right up our alley. What a gorgeous spot. Definitely a great summer spot. We would love to do some hiking around there and those water spots looks like the ideal way to cool down. Great guide.

  8. I’ve never heard of Mammoth Lake but it looks gorgeous. Your photos are really great. I would love to go away from there to get away from everything for a bit.

  9. I have only been to the Mammoth Lakes Basin area. I have not explored the town or the National Monument. The entire area around US-395 is so beautiful. Our last visit was last fall. I hope we can visit this fall again. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  10. Thanks for sharing! I have never heard of Mammoth Lake and it looks awesome! So many neat places to visit! The earthquake fault seems freaky but cool too haha!

  11. My mom was just telling me that she wanted to experience some real hot springs! Sounds like Mammoth Lakes may be a great place to take her. Thanks for the suggestion!

  12. Mammoth Lake is really a promising destination with so much to see and do. Apart from the hiking and cycling, I was fascinated by the Mono Lake. the Tufo spires look so intriguing, no wonder Mark Twain called it the greatest freak.

  13. I’ve never heard of Mammoth lakes before but it sounds like an incredible place for adventure enthusiasts like myself! I would definitely go and would love to explore by hiking and cycling!

  14. This post brought back so many happy memories for me!!! I haven’t been to Mammoth in over 20 years but as a kid my dad took me skiing here every winter!!!

  15. One look at that last picture of the cabin and I am sold…I can only imagine the cozy interiors. Great destination for nature trails and hikes. What caught my eye was the interestingly named ‘Devils Postpile’…lava from 100,000 years ago? Wow.

  16. Whoa! Mammoth Lakes California seems like a bucket list must place! I mean, so much to do at just one place. I love places that offer adventure. I didn’t get a chance to visit California during my visit to States last autumn 🙁 Maybe next time!

  17. This sounds like a really lovely place to stay. I would definitely love to see where the devil keeps his post. And wow, see a real fault line? THat’s both interesting and scary .

  18. I have never been to Mammoth Lake but it seems like such a serene place to disconnect and go off the grid for a little while. I would love to visit!

  19. The mammoth Lake looks beautiful and it has lots to offer. Earthquake fault has excited me most and Mono Lake seems like actually a different world. We too would like to try some water sports. Great post and pictures.

  20. What a cool place! I would go to Mammoth Lake especially for hiking and reconnecting with nature but Mono Lake does not look bad either! What a pity you did not post a picture of the quake fall, now I am curious!

  21. oh my I’m not sure how I’d feel about seeing a bear while golfing! Good thing I’m a terribly golfer (can’t even mini golf). I’ll stick to hiking and the hot springs!

  22. Can’t believe we haven’t been to Mammoth Lakes and we’re not even that far! It really looks like a great place to enjoy and like the perfect weekend getaway! Maybe we can squeeze it in before moving from California.

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