Mammoth Mountain is a rugged volcano hill that stands apart from the peaks of Sierra around it. About 300 miles north of Los Angeles, California, along U.S. Highway 395, this 11,053-foot peak is the centerpiece of a year-round playground. Among this Alpine region in the Inyo National Forest, numerous lakes and streams and geological wonders await the visitor and offer countless opportunities for recreation. In the summer, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, bowling, boating and fishing are at the top of the list of activities you enjoy here. In the spring and autumn, the seasonal beauty offers a special lure for tourists, photographers and artists. In winter, a snow cloak drapes the landscape, attracting sports lovers to the area of the world-famous Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort and to nearby cross-country skiing and motorcycle trails. And numerous public and private campsites in the area offer year-round camping, making it a favorite destination for many RVers.
Depending on the interests of the visitor, the RV tour of the Mammoth-Mono country can take place from any location and in any season. As an example tour of the area, begin your visit to the Inyo National Mammoth Visitor Center, the first right when you arrive in the city along State Highway 203. The center has books, maps, leaflets, displays and helpful rangers to assist visitors route planning and issue wilderness permits for night outings in the desert. The center also sponsors ranger-led hikes and evening programs.
Unless you are camping in the Devil's Postpile area, you will need to take a bus between 7:30 and 19:00 every day to get there. Congestion Institute in this very popular area, the bus costs $ 8 per adult or $ 4 per child ages 3-15, free for children under 2 years, round-trip service. Traveling by bus between canyon stops is free. If you are going to camp in the canyon of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, you should know that the road from the top of Minaret to Agnew Meadows is crooked, steep and hardly more than one lane. Transfer is free after Labor Day until October.
The Agneu Meadow Trail is crowded with tourists' vehicles, and the meadow is even more full of flowers. Wilderness excursions start from a station near here. Both tourists and riders visit places like Shadow Lake, which the Mammoth Laers Sierra Guide called "one of Sierra's jewelry, especially because of its location beneath the peaks of the Ritter River." This is an average hike of 3 miles.
At Devil's Postpile, you'll see a bundle of Postpile's thallus (sort of like giant Lincoln polygonal logs piled up in the corner) made when basalt lava fills that spot 400 feet deep. As the basalt cooled, it cracked to form a honeycomb of columns – in fact, one of the best examples of columnar-joined basalt in the world.
But volcanism was only part of history here and in the Mamut-Mono area. The glaciers were different. After you go to the top of the Postpile, you will see the tile flooring on the tops of the columns. The 4,000-foot-thick glacier leaves not only polishing, but also parallel scratches called stripes. The glacier also removed basalt 100 feet from this formation, though the columns were still 280 by 300 feet and heading straight down.
From Postpile you can reach the end of Highway 203 at Reds Meadow. Polyana is a resort with a common shop, a cafe, cabins and a station offering horse or cart rides. Just before reaching the resort, you can camp at Forest Service and enjoy the free hot spring bath.
Also in this area is the Rainbow Falls Trail. The hike is only 1-1 / 4 miles and again enters the National Monument. The San Joaquin River sank 101 feet wide over lava and is reflected in part by the spectral fog that is best seen at noon. The rain in the fog of the fall is a daily occurrence as long as the sun is warming.
This canyon is snowy in winter, but Mammoth Mountain is open all year. This inactive volcano is home to one of the largest downhill skiing areas in the country. The pitch is a healthy combination of 30% beginners, 40% intermediate and 30% advanced. Thirty-two lifts and 150 trails covering 3,100 vertical legs serve skiers of all abilities. For the suicide border there are advanced to expert tracks (ie rocks and near rocks) from the top, to which the gondola line reaches in 20 minutes. This cabin lift is also open to summer visitors who want to walk across the summit to enjoy nature from perhaps the best, most accessible view.
Returning to the village, turn right onto Lake Mary Road to reach the Mammoth Lakes. The distinctive granite spire, called the Crystal Throne, dominates this glacier surrounded by glaciers. Here the lakes are sprinkled with bearings. Mammoth Mountain RV Park is one of the most popular and is open year-round. In addition to camping, visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, horseback riding and hiking.
From Horseshoe Lake, the farthest you can drive, you can go to McLeod Lake for half a mile, then over Mammoth Pass to Reds Meadow. For an unforgettable meal, picnic at Twin Falls Overlook, where the outlet of Lake Mammy descends over 300 feet of volcanic rock to the Twins Lakes below.
Going back to US Highway 395 and turning right (southbound), you can visit more Mammoth attractions. Convict Lake, a 10-minute drive from Mammoth Lakes, offers camping, fishing, horseback riding and hiking, including a level, one mile long trail around the North Shore and John Muir Desert Trails. Mount Morrison rises above the southern end of Convict Canyon, and camping aspects begin to show in the fall.
Further south, Crowley Lake is fished strongly, which is not surprising since fishing is fantastic in eastern Sierra. In the summer, it seems that every lake and stream has at least one fishery on it every day after brown, rainbow, golden or river trout. Trout Season Opening Day, April, also sees its share of eager anglers. You can get a copy of the fishing rules and fishing license from almost any store in the area.
Turning north on US Highway 395, the next time, mostly with dirt, leads to the hatching of Hot Creek fish and the Hot Creek geological site. The hot springs here provide the hatchery with perfectly warm water for incubation of trout eggs. This is one of the many hatcheries in the area that keep the notes throughout the season. Hot Creek is open to visitors every day from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The nearby geological site, open for daily use only, has boards that open up steam and boiling water. Swimming is not recommended, partly due to inconsistent mixing of the heated water with the cold creek.
Continuing north, toward Lake Mono, you will turn to the June Lake Contour. On your way to June Lake you can climb an observation deck near Oh! Reed, so called because of how suddenly you see the lake. The lake itself has one of the best sunbathing beaches in the area. Throughout the chain, numerous public and private campsites are located on RVer. Trails cut off from the road, inviting the tourist or horseback packer to the higher desert side of Ansel Adams (formerly the Minarets) and the Yosemite's "back door".
After crossing Silver Lake, where the California trout river is trapped, they will parallel the upper reaches of Rush Creek to Grant Lake. Grant is the premier diverting water reservoir of the Los Angeles Mono Basin. From that moment on, the water passes under the Mono Craters, instead of the Mono Lake, to the Owens River. Below the dam, Los Angeles has retained the lower Rush Creek – once the finest stream of brown trout in eastern Sierra – bone dry. That is, until three wet winters a few years ago swept trout over the dam. In fact, these fish have regained their wild wild spawning population, though perhaps only temporarily. The creek would have been dry in the summer if it had not been for a temporary order imposed by fishing groups and the Mono Lake Committee, which is fighting to protect Mono Lake. The ordinance requires Los Angeles to maintain a minimum flow rate of 19 cubic feet per second. Fishermen refer to the reborn river as a wild stream of catch and trout release.
Returning to US 395, head south, crossing Rush Creek and turn left onto State Highway 120, east to Mono Craters, rising 2,600 feet above the surrounding plains. These volcanic craters are practically geologically reborn. This is especially true of Panum Crater. You can take a short trip to the rim of the crater and take a stroll around. The Panum Crater was only formed 640 years ago, when explosive eruptions accumulated pumice stone to create an edge created by the swelling of a glass, obsidian plug. To the west, the Sierra canyons show the wide U-shaped glacier carved. Lake Mono itself rests in a tub shaped like a wall with the eastern Sierra as a wall, with faucets at one end and volcanic rim-forming mountains, but this tub only loses its water to evaporation. Today it is drying up because of Los Angeles & # 39; diversion of four of the five streams of the Sierra flowing towards Mono.
Return to Highway 120 and turn left. After about three miles, turn left onto a dirt road, then follow the left fork. This will lead you to an interpretive path in the Southern Tufa grove. Tufa is one of the most characteristic products of the lake, due to its existence of the unusual chemistry of Mono. Mono water is three times saltier than the sea and about 80 times more alkaline, which makes it soapy. One of these salts is the carbonates – chemically linked to bread soda – that react with calcium in spring water as it rises from the bottom of the lake. The result is tuff. The fragile sand tuff on the nearby Navy beach was formed in the same way as the tufa towers, except that calcium carbonate was formed in the sand. Hardened calcium carbonate holds the grains of sand together in fragile formations.
Despite its "Dead Sea" appearance, Mono is full of life. It supports algae, brine shrimp and billiard fly flies, which in turn support breeding gulls and millions of migrating shorebirds. Fall migration is especially difficult. The black volcanic island of Negit was the main breeding colony for seagulls until 1979, when the lake level dropped enough to find a bridge on land. Then the coyotes crossed the island and defeated the seagulls. Thanks to these wet winters, Negit is an island again.
Mammoth Mono Resources:
Mammoth Visitor Center, Mammoth Ranger District, PO Box 148, Mammoth Lakes, California 93546 (619)934-2505
Lee Vining Ranger Station, 1 Drive Center Center Drive, Lee Vining, California 93541 (760)647-3000
Mono Lake Visitor Center, 1 Drive Drive Center, Lee Vining, CA 93541 (760)647-3044
Mono Lake Committee, PO Box 29, Lee Vining, California 93541 (760)647-6595
For information on horseback riding, write or call:
Agnew Meadows Pack Train, Red & Meadows Pack Train, 1 Reds Circle, Mammoth Lakes, California 93546 (760)934-2345
Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit, 3244 Lake Mary Road, Mammoth Lakes, California 93546 (760)934-2434
McGee Creek Pack Station, McGee Creek Road, Mammoth Lakes, California 93546 (760)935-4324
Convict Lake Resort, 2000 Convict Lake Road, Mammoth Lakes, California 93546 (760)934-3800
For more information on the Mammoth Lakes Network, point your browser at: http://www.VisitMammoth.com
For more information about Mono Lake, go online at: http://www.MonoLake.org