Visited: May 2016
Where We Stayed:
Alpenhof Lodge was a wonderful place to stay. It was fresh and clean. The rooms were of great size, comfort, and you may even get a view of the mountains! Our room had a fireplace that turned on and heated the room. Was perfect after a long day of hiking to open a bottle of wine and chat fireside.
The lodge is close to the shopping areas and if you ski, a short distance from the Village. They offer a great free breakfast; a nice selection of proteins, oatmeal, toast, cheeses and more. They really know how to fill you up. All the places we looked at in this area were more expensive and were not as accommodating as this lodge. The front desk even lets your rent out board games for free.
At night, the Clocktower Cellar (where breakfast is served), opens the bar. Many locals were there to watch the game on the TV and hang out. It definitely was a fun place to hang out. We rented out a board game and had a fun time drinking and playing games in the lobby on the big comfy couches with the roar of screaming guests watching the match on TV.
What We Saw:
Inyo National Forest
Hot Creek Geological Site
A beautiful hot spring that serves as an important fault indicator for the area. Hot Creek is a lovely old spot that used to be visited by many, but has been bypassed by people lately, so now it has become a sort of hidden gem.
The water at Hot Creek can reach temperatures as high as 400+ degrees. The pressure of volcanic activity eventually bubbles up along the stream sometimes creating geysers and outpouring of bubbles. Hot Creek Geological Site no longer allows human contact with the water; not after 14 deaths having occurred from visitors.
Remember that. This is NOT a hot-tubbing site. Don’t even think about it!
Even though you can’t get in, you can still see the beautiful Hot Creek from the parking lot, or take the original walkway down to the water. The water is partly blocked out, but all visitors managed to get close to the water and smell of sulfur burbling up.
Look for the colorful pools like that of Yellowstone. The brilliant blues of the pools indicate how hot the water is. The water is too hot for microbial growth. When sunlight hits the water’s surface, blue light scatters through the clear water. Smaller pools, with indirect light, will have green-yellowish edges, indicating cooler temperatures and different organisms.
Head south on US-395, turn left onto Benton Crossing Road and then left at Whitmore Tubs Road (see visiting there below). Take another left onto Hot Creek Hatchery Road and continue on the gravel road until you reach the park.
- There are restrooms out at the park, but they are the permanent “porta-potty” kind.
- The trail to Hot Creek is steep, but still accessible to those in a wheelchair.
- This is a summer only site, otherwise it can only be visited by snowmobile or snowshoe.
Start by stopping on your way to Reds Meadow Valley at vista point: Minaret Vista. This vista offers a panorama of the entire Sierra Nevada that is both iconic and breathtaking. View Mt. Ritter and Mt. Banner. There are trail heads there, but we didn’t take them. Continue down to the Main Lodge.
At the Main Lodge, take the free Reds Meadow Shuttle Bus down to the Devils Postpile; the buses run every 20 minutes during the day. In the off season you can drive your car, but during the tourist season your only option is to take the shuttle or walk. You will be dropped off at the trail head and it is about half a mile trail to the Postpile.
Hike to the monument see a wall of multi-sided volcanic basalt columns 60 feet high. The natural formation gets it’s shape from the basalt lava that once flowed and cooled slowly; splitting into symmetrical, vertical, hexagonal columns.
During the ice age, glaciers fractured the lava further. The tops of the columns are smooth and polished by the glaciers.
Note: The Devil’s Postpile trail is not fully accessible. The trail turn uphill towards the formation, with a series of roots and uneven surfaces that make wheelchair access difficult and unsafe.
Cost: $7 Adult/ $4 Child
An easy 2.5 mile hike (round trip) from the Devil’s Postpile station takes you to a beautiful waterfall. The trail is easy and wide. The falls are gorgeous. If you come on a sunny day, the mist will reflect an almost guaranteed rainbow (hence the name). There are some viewing areas at the end of the rail and if you wish, you can take the stairs down to the bottom.
When you are ready to leave, take the Rainbow Falls trail back towards Red’s Meadow. There’s a small general store with ice cream! Relax with a delicious cone and, if your lucky, you might meet some adventurous hikers restocking their supplies while taking on the John Muir trail. Take the shuttle back towards Mammoth Mountain.
- This is a summer only hike because for most of the year this area is covered in snow.
- The trail to Rainbow Falls is not accessible by wheelchair.
Find more fun sites to visit in Inyo National Forest.
Natural Hot Springs – Whitmore Tubs
There are a number of natural hot springs that you can find near Mammoth Lakes. Many are stone “tubs” fed by natural hot springs. There are public ones and private ones. The tubs are marked accordingly so you’ll know.
- If they are public, then it is considered okay to join other people.
- If they are private, then you need to wait your turn for use if there are other people.
The hot tub that we went to, Whitmore Tubs, is a little tub in a valley surrounded by mountains. There are many other springs, and depending how far you want to go out can offer more privacy and beautiful views. I think the Whitmore Tubs had a gorgeous view and was perfect for just the two of us. We got a private one since we didn’t feel like sharing. We only had to wait a short while for a tub to be open for us to enjoy.
Things to Know:
- Clothing is optional in the private tubs, so don’t be surprised to see others Au natural. If there are children around, please be considerate and wear a bathing suit.
- These tubs are not to be used for bathing. Please respect the natural setting and not use soap.
- Test the water before you get in! They can get VERY hot.
- If you see others waiting, please be considerate of your time there.
- View other hot springs here: https://www.outdoorproject.com/adventures/california/hot-springs
Where We Ate:
Morrison’s Restaurant and Bar (Angels)
Morrison’s Restaurant and Bar (Formerly Known as Angels) is named after Mount Morrison. Just off the main road in Mammoth, so make sure to pay attention or you’ll pass it. It is a wonderful, casual, fine-dining place with a cozy, yet elegant feel.
Before going, people raved about the chicken pot pie and the homemade macaroni and cheese. We had the pulled pork and roasted chicken, but the pot pie smelled amazing!
Best deal in Mammoth in our opinion.