The Ultimate Summer Guide to Mammoth Lakes, California

The Ultimate Summer Guide to Mammoth Lakes, California
Lake George. Photo: Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Nestled in the heart of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, surrounded by a stunning backdrop of jutting peaks, encircled by crystal clear alpine lakes, and enveloped by the dense Inyo National Forest, Mammoth Lakes is a popular mountain resort town endowed with breathtaking scenery. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Mammoth Mountain, which towers at 11,053 feet, for thrilling adventures, offering mountain biking trails, excellent fishing, extensive alpine hiking, and secluded spots for relaxing in natural hot springs.

Getting There

Mammoth Lakes is located approximately 300 miles (480 km) north of Los Angeles and about 164 miles (264 km) south of Reno, Nevada. Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) conveniently links travelers to California’s iconic gateway cities, ensuring quick flights under one hour and providing ample time for exploration. You can also easily drive to Mammoth Lakes from Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Las Vegas, all of which are within a manageable five-hour drive from the area.

Getting Around

Convict Lake Mammoth Lakes _ Photo Credit Samantha Lindberg -- Visit Mammoth_-4
Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes. Photo: Samantha Lindberg/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Upon arriving in town, be sure to visit the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center, located at 2510 Main St. to obtain a town map, the most recent transit schedules, and other up-to-date information. Local residents encourage visitors to navigate the town on foot, by bicycle, or by taking advantage of the extensive, complimentary public transportation services available, rather than relying solely on cars for transportation.

Things To Do in Summer

Minaret Vista Lakes Basin. Photo: Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Begin your adventure in Mammoth Lakes, California, by riding the Panaroma Gondola, that swiftly transports sightseers to the summit of 11,053-foot Mammoth Mountain, offering 360-degree views of the Sierra Nevada. The gondola unloads and loads into the Eleven53 Interpretive Center where you’ll find interactive displays showcasing the region’s geological, hydrological, and volcanic history.

Hiking, Biking and Climbing

Mammoth Lakes is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a myriad of hiking trails and biking opportunities. There are plenty of short, easy and family-friendly hikes. For more ambitious hikers and backpackers, check out trails from Mammoth Lakes to the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail.

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Road Cyclists in the Eastern Sierra. Photo: Mammoth Lakes Tourism

The biking adventures range from leisurely rides around the town on rented road bikes to more thrilling climbs up Minaret Road to Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge and beyond to the stunning Minaret Vista, or enjoying the picturesque stretches of US 395. Here, you’ll also discover a cluster of beautiful lakes including Lake Mary, Lake George, Lake Mamie, and Horseshoe Lake, all interconnected by scenic paved trails.

For those interested in climbing, whether on rock or ice, check out the Sierra Mountain Center’s year-round programs.


Photo: Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Select from a range of campgrounds scattered across the Mammoth Lakes area, each offering a distinct experience and special access to the region’s scenic marvels. For a camping adventure in the Mammoth Lakes Basin (reachable via the ESTA Lakes Basin Trolley), choose a campsite providing convenient access to hiking trails and alpine lakes. Alternatively, reserve a campsite within town at a campground serviced by the free Mammoth Lakes shuttle system, ensuring easy access to local restaurants and shops. For those seeking proximity to hiking trails and attractions like Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls, consider camping in Reds Meadow (reachable via the Reds Meadow Shuttle).

Water Adventures – Boating, Kayaking, Paddle Boarding and Fishing

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Lake Mary. Photo: Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Paddleboard or kayak on the pristine lakes or rent a pontoon boat at Lake Mary Marina. Mono Lake, located nearby, offers a unique landscape with its striking tufa formations rising from highly alkaline waters. Visit the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve to witness this remarkable scenery and watch the annual migration of millions of birds. Numerous visitors have had the thrill of spotting eagles and black bears during their boating outings.

Horseshoe Lake, located in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, is also a perfect place for a refreshing swim and is an ideal choice for families, featuring a sandy beach perfect for picnicking and launching kayaks or paddleboards onto the tranquil waters.

Mammoth Lakes is renowned as one of the premier fishing destinations in the Western United States, with pristine, crystal-clear lakes and streams of the Eastern Sierra captivate visitors. Fishing opportunities abound, whether from the shore, a boat, a dock, or within lakes, rivers, and streams. Mammoth Lakes is well-equipped with sporting goods stores and knowledgeable guides ready to assist with all fishing needs.

Day Trips

Photo: Snider Dakota/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Mammoth Lakes serves as the gateway to the natural wonders of the Sierra Nevada region. Day trips from town include visits to Devils Postpile National Monument, Rainbow Falls, Mono Lake, Bodie State Historic Park, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Mount Whitney, and the picturesque Mammoth Lakes Basin and Yosemite National Park.

Reds Meadow’s most captivating attraction is Devils Postpile National Monument, featuring stunning 60-foot basalt columns formed from slow-cooling lava. The unique honeycomb pattern of these columns is best viewed from atop via a short trail, starting just half a mile from the Devils Postpile Ranger Station.  From the monument, a 2.5-mile hike passing through fire-scarred forest leads to the spectacular Rainbow Falls, where the San Joaquin River gushes over a 101ft basalt cliff. The chances of actually seeing a rainbow forming in the billowing mist are greatest at midday.

About a half-hour drive from Mammoth Lakes lies Mono Lake – known for its distinctive tufa towers, which formed through the interaction of saltwater and freshwater springs bubbling up from the lake bottom. As the second-oldest lake in North America, covering 70 square miles, it presents a tranquil and mysterious expanse of deep blue water.

Canoeing in Mono Lake. Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Bodie Historic State Park, is one of the largest preserved ghost towns in the American West, safeguarding its rich gold rush history. In the late 1800s, Bodie thrived as a bustling mining settlement. Visitors can still stroll through the abandoned streets of a town that approximately 2,000 structures and had a population of about 8,000 people.

Embark on a half-day adventure to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to some of earth’s oldest living organisms. These remarkable trees grow above 10,000 feet on the arid slopes of the White Mountains, defying the odds of survival. Among them stands Methuselah, the oldest tree at approximately 4,700 years old. The trails remain open throughout the year, but road conditions are subject to weather-dependent closures.

The Mammoth Lakes Basin features lakes carved by glaciers, including Twin Lakes, Lake Mary, Lake Mamie, Lake George, and Horseshoe Lake, all surrounded by rugged peaks and pine forests. Accessible via public transportation, the basin offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and picnicking in a picturesque natural setting.

Twin Lakes. Photo: Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Yosemite National Park, a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage site and one of America’s most stunning national parks, is only a 45-minute drive from Mammoth Lakes, making it an ideal destination for a spectacular day trip. Explore the famed Tuolumne Meadows and enjoy the pristine waters of Tenaya Lake. For iconic sights like Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Valley waterfalls, take a scenic 1.5-hour drive through the park from Tuolumne Meadows.

Where To Eat and Drink In Mammoth Lakes

Enjoy a diverse array of food and entertainment in Mammoth Lakes from sunrise to long past sunset throughout the year. Indulge in mountain vistas, warm hospitality, and delightful dining experiences at the locally owned and operated eateries along Old Mammoth Restaurant Row.

Starting near the intersection of Main Street/CA-203 at the north end, you’ll find The Breakfast Club offering breakfast, lunch, and bakery treats. Heading south towards Mammoth Creek Park, explore a range of dining options including pizza and fine dining, all with picturesque views of the Sherwin Range.

Photo: Mammoth Lakes Tourism

With options to suit every taste and budget, there’s something for everyone along this culinary journey. Treat yourself to a special evening at Mammoth Rock Brasserie and indulge in a French culinary experience highlighted by a creative, eclectic menu set against the backdrop of stunning views of the Sherwin Range and Mammoth Mountain.

For affordable and delicious meals any time of day, visit The Warming Hut. Nik-n-Willies is perfect for grabbing pizza, salads, or sandwiches for a picnic in the park. Giovanni’s, located in Minaret Village plaza, offers pizza, pasta, Italian dishes, salads, and wings along with a lively sports bar atmosphere. Lastly, Good Life Café serves up a wide-ranging menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.

Where To Stay

Mammoth Lakes provides an array of exceptional accommodations suited to every vacation preference. Whether you seek luxury hotels, charming B&Bs, cozy motels, rustic cabins, or convenient ski-in, ski-out condos, your lodging options can mirror the grandeur of the highest peak or the tranquility of a gentle stream.

Here’s a breakdown of the primary lodging areas in town:

mammoth village
Mammoth Villagefest. Photo Samantha Lindberg/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Main Lodge: Situated just a few miles outside of town at the resort’s highest-elevation base lodge, this pace is perfect if you aim to make the most of your time on the mountain. It’s also an ideal location for summer adventures at Reds Meadow.

Canyon Lodge is ideal for families and groups, with easy access to the entire mountain and proximity to Village amenities via the Village Gondola.

The Village at Mammoth provides a central location with convenient access to shopping, dining, childcare, and the Village Gondola for easy mountain access.

Eagle Lodge is closest to town and suitable for families with young children, offering beginner ski terrain and easy access to summer activities.

Main Street is dotted with stores, coffee shops, and restaurants and is home to branded motels with comfortable accommodations at budget-friendly prices, and easy shuttle access to Mammoth Mountain.

Downtown/Old Mammoth Road offers a lively atmosphere with various accommodations and activities, perfect for nightlife and off-mountain fun.

Old Mammoth offers a quiet, residential setting with bed & breakfasts and luxury accommodations like Snowcreek Resort, offering stunning views and amenities.

Mammoth Lakes Basin is perfect for a rustic retreat, offering cabins. The historic Tamarack Lodge is popular with anglers and hikers in summer.

Check out our curated selection of accommodations tailored to meet every traveler’s preference.

Crowley Lake. Photo: Lindberg/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth

The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth, offers unparalleled luxury just steps from the Village Gondola, providing convenient access to the ski slopes from mid-December to mid-April. Situated close to the Village’s vibrant dining, shopping, and nightlife scene, guests can enjoy fine dining at the Whitebark Restaurant & Lounge or opt for in-room meals with room service.

Mammoth Mountain Inn

For over fifty years, Mammoth Mountain Inn has been the quintessential slopeside hotel, offering breathtaking mountain vistas and ski-in, ski-out access for families and skiing enthusiasts. Situated steps away from the Main Lodge, ski school, and Panorama Gondola, the inn features a full-service restaurant, bar, and coffee shop. In the summer, guests appreciate its proximity to Devils Postpile, Rainbow Falls, and the Mammoth Adventure Center, making it an ideal basecamp for outdoor enthusiasts.

Outbound Mammoth

Outbound Mammoth is a year-round alpine escape near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Enjoy weekly local events and delicious on-site dining, creating a welcoming atmosphere for all who seek adventure in the great outdoors.

Juniper Springs Resort

Juniper Springs Resort is Mammoth’s top slopeside condominium rental, featuring spacious units with kitchens, private balconies, and gas fireplaces for a cozy stay. In the summer, guests can explore nearby hiking and biking trails and enjoy easy access to the scenic Sierra Star Golf Course.

Year-Round Cabin Rentals In Mammoth Lakes

Photo: Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Mammoth Mountain Chalets

Mammoth Mountain Chalets, nestled in the trees above Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge, offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle. Each charming cabin is ski-in, ski-out in winter and surrounded by hiking and mountain biking trails in the summer. A nearby shuttle provides access to Reds Meadow and Yosemite National Park.

Sierra Meadows Ranch

Sierra Meadows Ranch, situated on 17 scenic acres with stunning views of Mammoth Lakes, offers a tranquil getaway while being conveniently close to The Village, accessible by a short walk or Red Line shuttle. Their rustic cabins can accommodate up to 10 guests, ideal for group gatherings. Guests can explore the ranch’s trails leading to nearby lakes, interact with the summer boarding horses, or relax by the flowing stream on the property.

Pinecliff Resort

Experience a nostalgic journey with Pinecliff Resort and its charming 1950s-style cabins, offering a unique blend of retro décor and affordable pricing. The resort provides a remote escape while remaining conveniently close to downtown amenities and ski lifts.

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