Traveling the Eastern Sierras
Last week I had some fun filled adventures camping Mammoth Lakes, CA in the Eastern Sierras. If you can't get your shit together like my husband and I and book a camp site in Yosemite at least six months in advance, well then you should book a site at Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite's next door neighbor to the east. With breath taking views of mountains and a diverse group of lakes, this place is like Disneyland for the outdoorsy. There's camping, hiking, biking, swimming (if you like freezing cold water) and there are plenty of winter sports as well. And if you're not into the active outdoors, there's plenty of restaurants and shops in Mammoth Lakes and in other area towns. For me, I just loved the fresh mountain air and water.
Getting there is easy if you're coming from Northern or Southern California during the summer. However, if you're planning on coming in the winter and you live in Northern California, the mountain pass (Tioga pass) from Yosemite to Mammoth is often closed because it can be quite treacherous. If you live in Southern California, you'll have no problem getting there, but for us NorCal folks, getting there in the winter isn't easy. You can check out the directions on the Mammoth website and even then, you still have to check Caltrans for road closures. The safest bet from San Francisco would be to fly into the Yosemite/Mammoth Lakes airport. This is why most of us Northern Californians head on over to Tahoe instead, but I definitely want to check out the Mammoth area in the winter because it was breathtakingly beautiful. Seriously. And if you don't live in California and you're wanting to check it out, do it, but fly into their airport for safe travels.
We actually had camping reservations and camped only two nights. I wish we would have camped more, but we have a 2-year-old and it made our camping experience kind of difficult. Campfire, plus a 2-year-old boy, equals no time to sit and relax. It was a lot of work because my little guy was constantly getting into everything. It was like sensory overload for him or something which is kind of ironic since there was nothing but dirt and trees everywhere.
The first day we arrived a bit late and our day was pretty much over. The second day we went to June Lake which was actually quite beautiful. If you want to camp there, you would want to camp at Oh! Ridge campsite or you could stay in the town of June Lake with views of the mountains and crystal clear lake. The water is super shallow and you can actually walk to the middle of the lake and still be less than waist deep. There's also kayak and paddle board rentals in the parking lot, but the day we went it was super windy, so we just hung out beach side.
By the end of day three, traveling to get there, setting up camp, and all the extras with a toddler, we were over it. But, I must say, it was so nice smelling the mountain air and waking up to the sounds of nature. We checked into a hotel for the next two nights and stayed across the street from all the action at The Village at Mammoth. It was a super cute area with loads of dining and shopping. There is also a lot of outdoor seating and life size games like Chess and Connect Four!
On day four we took the shuttle to Mammoth Mountain to do some hiking. The shuttle is very convenient and will pick you up at several spots which saved our lives after camping five miles on a mountain with a thirty - one pound toddler on our backs.
We first took the shuttle to Devil's Postpile and from the shuttle to Devil's Postpile it was probably a 15-20 minute easy hike. Afterwards, we hiked to Rainbow Falls which was mostly moderate, but could be really intense going uphill at times. I think it took us about an hour and a half to get there and then we decided to hike up to another shuttle stop which was closer than the Devils's Postpile stop, but it was uphill for at least 45 minutes. And then we ran out of water. That's what killed me. When we finally found our way off the trail to the closest bus stop (with a bathroom and a little convenient shop) I couldn't have been happier! The loud noises of all the hikers chatting away about their hiking adventures was seriously music to my ears.
Day five it was time to head back to the Bay Area. Driving back on the Tioga pass I was able to catch all the things I had missed on the way up. There was so much to look at and so much to admire. I was feeling blessed and also grateful to live only five ours away from one of the most beautiful mountainous areas in the world. So if you ever have the chance to travel Mammoth Lakes, do it!
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