17 Epic Things to Do in Mammoth Lakes To Experience Northern California’s Blissful Outdoors

Planning a trip to Northern California? Immerse yourself in nature and check out all the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes, CA. An outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true, Mammoth Lakes offers activities for every traveler, including amazing hikes, scenic waterfalls, breweries, and pristine lakes.

Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mammoth Lakes, also known as Mammoth Village, is a beautiful place for natural adventures situated in a geologically active region surrounding the dormant volcanoes known as Mammoth Mountain. In the winter, you can enjoy incredible skiing. In the warmer months, activities like hiking, beautiful lakes, hot springs, and a ghost town are just a few of the area’s top tourist attractions.

Wondering what to do on your trip? Plan an unforgettable itinerary with this guide to the best places to visit in Mammoth Lakes, CA.

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Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

The huge Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is one of California’s best places for winter sports. Located with the Inyo National Forest, it features 3,500 acres of epic terrain perfect for skiing. Whether visiting in winter or summer, it’s one of the most popular places to go in Mammoth Lakes.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has one of the longest-running ski seasons in all of North America thanks to its 11,059-foot elevation. Ski enthusiasts can enjoy the slopes from early November until around Memorial Day.

Sometimes, the ski season at Mammoth Mountain runs even longer. (Back in 2017, it stayed open until August 6th!) Regardless of when you’re visiting, it’s worth checking to see if you might have the opportunity to hit the slopes. 

Devils Postpile National Monument

Devils Postpile National Monument is a protected portion of land within Reds Meadow that includes some truly unique natural wonders. The monument itself is a unique rock formation that looks like something from another realm.

Devils Postpile National Monument

The rocks at Devils Postpile National Monument are formed basalt, eerily arranged into large columns. The area was once part of Yosemite National Park but has since separated into an adjacent piece of land.

At one point, famed conservationist John Muir himself stepped in to protect the special rock formation when leaders wanted to create a dam that would destroy Devils Postpile.

On a visit to Devils Postpile, you can also take in the 101-foot-tall Rainbow Falls, a beautiful waterfall that’s part of the San Joaquin River. The hiking trail running past Devils Postpile Monument is actually a convergence between the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail

Crowley Lake Columns

Like Devils Postpile, the mystical Crowley Lake Columns are one of the coolest formations in the Mammoth Lakes region. The columns are naturally formed from volcanic explosions and resemble something out of a science fiction movie. You can hike right up to them and explore the little caves within.

Crowley Lake Columns

The Crowley Lake Columns are moderately difficult to get to. Reaching them involves a drive down a long road and a hike from the parking lot down to the beach. But if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path excursion while in Mammoth Lakes, checking out these otherworldly rock columns is a must! 

Lake Mary

Surrounded by towering pines and mountains, Lake Mary is the largest lake of the Mammoth Lakes. Beautiful to visit in any season, Lake Mary is one of the most beautiful places to see in Mammoth Lakes for outdoor adventurers.

Lake Mary

In winter, skiers will enjoy stunning views while up on the slopes. During the warmer months, Lake Mary is also a popular spot for boating and fishing, with its crystal clear water and beautiful natural surroundings.

Swimming, paddle boarding, hiking, and picnicking are just a few of the fun activities you can enjoy at Lake Mary. The water at this top Mammoth Lake point of interest can be chilly, but on a hot day or after a long hike, nothing is more rejuvenating than taking a plunge in the cool clean water. 

Hot Creek Geological Site

With natural hot springs and turquoise water, Hot Creek Geological Site is well worth visiting on your Mammoth Lakes itinerary. With only a short drive from Mammoth Lakes, you can hike your way into a whole different landscape of geological marvels surrounded by rocky cliffs.

Hot Creek Geological Site

The Hot Creek Geological Site is constantly changing; you might see a new hot spring or even a geyser each time you visit!

It may be tempting to take a plunge in the pristine pools, but swimming is prohibited in the hot springs as the water temperatures change drastically and quickly. It’s been reported that the water can jump 200 degrees in seconds here!

Mono Lake

One of the oldest lakes in the world, Mono Lake is believed to have formed a million years ago. It’s a saline soda lake, meaning its salt concentration in the water is a perfect habitat for many species.

Mono Lake

Famous for the tufa towers, Mono Lake features towering rock formations that resemble a naturally formed castle emerging from the sparkling water. These tufa towers were created from the freshwater streams mixing with the saline lake water.

The Mono Lake area is famous for hiking, photography, bird watching, and even swimming on warm days. 

Horseshoe Lake

During the winter, Horseshoe Lake can only be reached by ski or snowshoe, making it all the more desirable for adventurous types. In the summer, it’s the perfect place around Mammoth Lakes to relax on sandy beaches that are created as the lake recedes when the temperatures rise. Mammoth Mountain creates the ideal backdrop for this beautiful destination. 

Horseshoe Lake

Horseshoe Lake is one of the furthest points in the Lake Mammoth area and one of the last places that the seasonal trolley stops. From there, you can hike to some even more remote areas. There’s also a nice paved trail around the lake that’s perfect for walking or biking.

Mammoth Mountain Bike Park

Looking for outdoor activities around Mammoth Lakes? Mammoth Mountain Bike Park is an excellent spot for beginners and experienced mountain bikers alike to enjoy the rugged terrain of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The Discovery Zone at Mammoth Mountain Bike Park is the perfect option for those who are brand new to mountain biking and is designed to help people learn and progress their skills. The bike trails here are shorter and less steep. There’s also a quick lift to the top, so you can try the runs a few different times without getting too worn out.

The more advanced courses at Mammoth Mountain Bike Park offer a variety of jumps and drops and even a derailed area for pros. It’s a fantastic choice if you’re experienced and looking to add a little more adventure to your Mammoth Lakes trip.

June Lake Loop

Located in the Eastern Sierra mountain range near Mammoth Lakes, the June Lake Loop offers the perfect scenic drive to take in all of the area’s natural splendor from the comfort of your vehicle. The popular road route is easily completed as a day or half-day trip from the Mammoth Lakes area. 

June Lake Loop

The June Lake Loop passes by four gorgeous lakes, winding its way through the mountains. Each twist and turn offers breathtaking views of the area.

There’s even a legend of treasure hiding at the bottom of the lakes. Years ago, when slot machines were illegal, it was rumored that some of them were dumped into June Lake before a raid. They’re presumed to be full of rare silver dollars!

Need to cool down? Laze around on June Lake Beach, a popular stop along the route for picnics and swimming. 

Crystal Lake

Want to get movin’ on your Mammoth Lakes trip while seeing some of the area’s natural beauty? A mile-long hike down a scenic trail will lead you to the stunning Crystal Lake.

Crystal Lake

Aptly named, Crystal Lake features bright blue water that’s perfectly clear. It’s surrounded by the granite rocks of Crystal Crag and the famous Mammoth Crest landmark. 

In the summertime, visitors love to picnic on the shores of Crystal Lake and marvel at the surrounding wildflowers.

Since you have to complete a moderately challenging hike to get there, Crystal Lake is usually far less crowded than other lakes in the area. It’s a great spot for those who seek solitude in nature on their Mammoth Lakes journey.

Mammoth Brewing Company

Craft beer lovers rejoice! Mammoth Brewing Company offers a variety of specially curated beers in the heart of Mammoth Lakes. The brewery focuses on using natural and seasonal ingredients sourced locally to create beers inspired by nature.

Mammoth Brewing Company features a tasting room, a beer garden, and a shop. There’s also a fun dining option in the tasting room, EATery by Bleu, serving up food that pairs well with all the different beers. 

The craft brewery is located just off Lake Mary Road near Main Street. One of the top Mammoth Lakes attractions, it’s the perfect place to enjoy some cold beers after a day of hiking and enjoying nature. 

McGee Creek Trail

McGee Creek Trail is an excellent hike in the spring and summer, especially if you love wildflowers. The grassy mountain meadows surrounding the path are scattered with some of California’s most beautiful species of flowers. The colorful walk takes you through the mountains near Crowley Lake.

McGee Creek Trail

In the fall, a whole new set of colors emerges with the changing of the seasons, making the McGee Creek Trail a lovely place to visit year-round.

The hike itself is best pursued by those who are in relatively good shape, as you’ll gain over 2,000 feet in elevation along the way. It’s a fairly difficult uphill walk, but the amazing views are well worth it!                                                  

Mammoth Scenic Loop

Need more Mammoth Lakes sightseeing ideas? Hop onto the Mammoth Scenic Loop. Starting near downtown, the scenic road winds through the surrounding mountains, past many of the most popular attractions in Mammoth Lakes.

Mammoth Scenic Loop

Along the Mammoth Scenic Loop, you can stop at the iconic Inyo Canyons. Continue on through Jeffrey Pines, an amazing forest full of towering evergreens.

If you’re interested in hiking, the drive passes by tons of trailheads for some of the most popular hiking trails in Mammoth Lakes. You can pull off and enjoy a walk whenever you choose. Obsidian Dome and Lookout Mountain are a couple of popular hikes along the route.

The Mammoth Scenic Loop is also popular for cyclists if you’re traveling through the area without a car. 

Skelton Lake

You can reach Skelton Lake by completing a 3.1-mile hike through the pristine mountains. Serious hikers will do best on this hike, as it’s labeled as moderate to challenging, with plenty of steps. The view is incredible, however, making the journey all the more meaningful when you finally reach the top.

Skelton Lake

Skelton Lake is best visited in the spring and summer, as the trail becomes impassable once the snow starts. If you’re looking for an adventure with your four-legged friend, the Skelton Lake Trail is also a great choice; the area is dog-friendly—as long as they’re on a leash.

Mammoth Museum

Interested in Northern California history? The Mammoth Museum allows you to experience both the natural and human history of the Mammoth Lakes region. The museum can be found within the Hayden Cabin. The building was once a hunting and fishing lodge owned by Emmett Hayden, one of the area’s first wilderness guides and a well-known map maker.

At the Mammoth Museum, you’ll experience what log cabin living might have been like for miners during the California gold rush. The exhibits include relics from Indigenous people and early white settlers who called the region home.

On a visit to the Mammoth Museum, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time to the times of the Wild West when the first white settlers began to venture into the California wilderness. 

Mammoth Rock Trail

Appealing to nature enthusiasts and history buffs, the Mammoth Rock Trail is a historic trail that runs from Sherwins Meadow to the Lakes Basin. The popular hiking trail offers stunning views of the town and the surrounding mountains along the way. 

The Mammoth Rock Trail can be traveled in either direction—up or down—so it’s accessible to all types of hikers. Take in the Sherrington Range and the Snowcreek Meadow along the route.

The entire path runs 5.1 miles and is considered moderate to challenging, especially on the way up. The Mammoth Rock Trail is also a popular place to go horseback riding.

Hot Creek Fish Hatchery

Head to the south of Mammoth Lakes to visit Hot Creek Trout Hatchery. It’s a historically relevant hatchery and a producer of many trout that populate the nearby lakes and streams.

Hot Creek Fish Hatchery

If you’re interested in engineering and sustainable fisheries, visiting Hot Creek Fish Hatchery is one of the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes, CA. They’ve mastered the art of producing fish without disturbing the natural ecosystem. 

The Hot Creek Hatchery has been around since the 1920s when its first pond was built. It’s since grown into a huge production hatchery, spawning 5,000 pairs of trout for 5 million eggs.

What’s unique about the facility is that it’s spring-fed. The hot springs help keep the hatchery waters at the perfect temperature year-round.

The Hot Creek Trout Hatchery is open to visitors from 8 am until 3 pm.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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