If you know me or have been reading my blog for some time now, you know that I absolutely love to travel. Whether I get there by plane or car, I love exploring new places. Gavin and I spent his birthday in Mammoth a couple years ago and went snowboarding, but it has been YEARS since I’ve been up there in Summer, so needless to say, I was excited to go back.
We decided to take an extended weekend trip for my dad’s birthday, and I honestly wish we had more time. I didn’t want to go home! There really is so much to see, but I feel like we made great use of our time and covered a lot of ground. Keep reading for tips on where to go, what time to visit & where to eat!
Quick backstory: Both my parents were on the Mammoth Ski Team in college and have been going to Mammoth ever since – sun or snow, so these are some of their favorite places to visit. They’ve been bringing me to Mammoth since I was born, and it’s actually where I first learned how to ski, so this place is really special to us all.
Being my dad’s birthday and all, he had a full itinerary all set for this quick weekend trip. Now that I think about it…he always has a full itinerary, birthday or not, which must be where I get it from.
For the first day he planned a 7(ish) mile hike up to Sherwin Lakes. My dad’s been fishing here for 40 years and of course caught a little guy within the first two minutes. (Our family does catch and release, so no fish were killed in the process.) We are at an altitude of approximately 8,000 feet, so the hike was a bit challenging for me (blaming it on the altitude and not the fact that I’m a tad bit out of shape).
With how much rain we got this year, the lake was nice and full. Gavin and my dad spent a good couple of hours fishing, while I climbed trees and my mom played with our dog, Riley (pictured further down). The weather was absolutely perfect, and warm enough for me to put on my suit and take a few steps into the water.
After a few hours here, we hiked back to the car. My dad wanted to take a drive up to Twin & Horseshoe lakes. We didn’t fish here, but Gavin had never seen them, so my dad played tour guide. These lakes are absolutely gorgeous and perfect for water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding (more info here).
I’m still amazed by the fact that phone cameras can take panoramic photos, and had to take one of Horseshoe lake. My dad said he had never seen it this full before.
After Dad gave us a little tour around the lakes, we headed back to our condo to get cleaned up for dinner. We ate at Morrisons (which used to be the old Angels) and were pleasantly surprised. The food was fantastic and so was the service. I ordered the pistachio pesto pasta, my mom ordered the rack of ribs, and both Gavin and my dad ordered burgers. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of our food, but honestly, after our long day, we were so hungry that there were no time for photos once the food arrived. I did, however, capture this cute picture of my parents.
Another quick back story: they’ve been together for 37 years, and on August 8th, they’ll have been married for 30 of those years! I’ve been so fortunate to grow up in such a loving home, and couldn’t have asked for better role models.
After dinner, we took a walk along the golf course and headed back to our condo where we watched highlights from the British Open (can you tell we like golf?) and talked about our plans for the next day.
On the second day, my dad had a lot planned. We were going to fish Sotcher Lake, visit Devil’s Postpile, Reds Meadow, and hike to Rainbow Falls. This called for an early morning wake up call of 6:00 am.
Note: If you want to take your own car to places I just mentioned, you need to be in the park before 7 am. Any time after that, the park can only be accessed via shuttle and the lines can get very long.
Riley led the way, while my dad, Gavin, my mom & I followed close behind. We hiked around to the other side of the lake where we found a nice beach to set up camp. This lake is magnificent and so so gorgeous. We were there to watch the sun peak up over the mountains and couldn’t have had a better view.
Unfortunately I was Gavin’s only catch of the day. There are fish in the lake, but they must have been smarter than the ones up at Sherwin. My dad also had a bit of a mishap with his fishing pole and ended up losing half of it to some shrubs at the bottom of the lake.
As that put a damper on their fishing game, we decided to take a hike (literally). I came across this beautiful mermaid waterfall cave and of course had to take a couple pics for the ‘gram. My first try climbing up into this thing was unsuccessful. There’s moss all up in there that doesn’t make for sturdy footing. I slid right out and praise the Lord my dad was right there to catch me, or I would probably have a broken ankle. I was persistent though and needed my shot, so I tried again. Now that all the moss was gone due to my fall, it was a bit easier. Once we got our money shot, we headed back on the trail.
So glad we kept going because look at this areal view of the lake! We enjoyed a cup of coffee and scared my mom half to death by drinking it on the edge of the cliff.
After we got back to the car we headed to Devil’s Postpile which is a protected National Monument comprised of unusual rock formation of columnar basalt.
“Some details of the geologic origin of the Devils Postpile are not completely clear, but enough is known to reconstruct much of the story. Until recently, it was thought to have formed about one million years ago. Current studies suggest that the Postpile was formed less than 100,000 years ago when a cooling lava flow cracked into multi-sided columns. However, to fully understand the geologic setting of the Postpile we must go back millions of years to a time when there was no Sierra Nevada and California was a shallow sea.”
Eventually, Devils Postpile will no longer exist, so I was so grateful to be able to see it, and of course, snap a few pictures. The park itself is so pretty, you’ll find amazing views walking to and from the National Monument. Since I still had my suit on from my mermaid moment, I decided to jump on into the river and take in all the beauty.
Once dry, we headed back to the car and enjoyed a couple “trodas” aka trail sodas, aka beers. I’m not normally a beer gal, but after all the hiking in the heat, a cold Coors Light was just what I needed. Post-trodas, we headed towards Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls is so beautiful and with all of the runoff from the snow we got this year it was flowing like crazy! So crazy, in fact, that they closed the stairs that lead you down to the pool at the bottom of the falls. I was super bummed about this, but enjoyed the view anyways. The hike itself isn’t very far, but there’s not a lot of shade so come prepared with water (or trodas) and a hat.
The hike back from RF was HOT and after all the walking we had done, I was ready to head back and get ready for dinner. I suggested a restaurant that Gavin and I ate at (and loved) a couple years ago called Kitchen 53. 53 is right in the Mammoth Village area and there is always something going on over there. That night, it happened to be Reggae Fest. We opted for a table out on the patio so that we could listen to the live music. Playing was a band called Rebolution (band native to SoCal – specifically Santa Barbara) that Gavin and I both like, so it was really a nice time.
If you decide to eat at 53, I HIGHLY recommend the baked pretzel bread as well as their homemade potato chips for appetizers. Gavin and my dad both got burgers again while my mom and I tried the fried green tomato melt (mine w/o meat). I’m not sure whether the food was amazing, or if I was just starving, but we had a great server – I think his name was Pat – perfect ambiance, and completely stuffed by the end of it. Again, I failed you all and forgot to take pictures of our food, but Gavin got a couple of action shots of us walking to the restaurant. After dinner, we were exhausted. We headed home to get some rest.
For those of you wondering, almost my entire outfit was bought during the Nordstrom Early Access sale. Click the links above to shop!
On our last day, we had a quick breakfast at our condo, packed up and headed to the Wild Willy Hot Springs, also known as the Crowley Hot Springs. The springs were HOT! And so was the temperature outside so we only spent about 30 minutes here. If you’re interested in going here, I highly recommend going at night around 10 pm. The star gazing is unparalleled and it’s much nicer to sit in the springs when they aren’t the same temperature as the air outside. Regardless, they are a sight to see and so much fun.
After the hot springs, we decided to hit the road. We had the most amazing time celebrating my dad’s birthday and Gavin and I love spending time with my parents. I can’t wait for our next trip together!
Have you been to Mammoth before? If so what are some of your favorite things to do? Also – if you have any questions or need recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments below! I’m always happy to help!