Things to do...
This is not an all-inclusive list but rather some top recommendations and not in any particular order – just things we enjoy doing when free time permits.
Reds Meadow/Rainbow Falls – spending a half day or full day down in the Reds Meadow valley hiking from the Devil’s Postpile to Rainbow Falls is a weekend favorite. Catch the shuttle up at the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge, prices approximately $10 for adults and $7 for kids. Don’t miss the staircase that takes you to the base of the falls. Decent food and snacks can be bought at the Red’s Meadow Resort. I like the free hot spring showers at Reds Meadow campground, the walk around Sotcher Lake, and the time I saw a bear behind the wheel of my Corolla.
(keys were in the ignition...)
Sand Canyon Jeep/OHV trail – pick up this infamous trail out of Swall Meadows (about 7 miles south of Hilton Creek) off of Sky Meadows Ranch road. The dirt road quickly turns steep and then beach sandy. As the trail levels off it gets rocky and pinched in by brush, a side road continues on to the left (Wheeler Ridge jeep trail) or continue straight to soon end at a small lake. The road up to Wheeler Ridge is best on OHV only – stock 4x4’s beware!
Rock Creek Canyon – anyone could spend weeks up here exploring the different trails, we certainly do. Park at the East Fork trailhead and enjoy a leisurely walk along the creek and in the aspens. The trail crosses a bridge at the East Fork campground and you can continue up to the Rock Creek Lodge, and even further up to Rock Creek Lake and around it to extend the hike..
Mosquito flats trailhead has hikes going to Little Lakes Valley, Ruby Lake, or Eastern Sierra Brook Trout Lake to mention a few. (There are many more)
The Hilton/Davis Lakes trail is a bit longer but you can start up top and walk all the way down to the cabin back door.
Both resorts in Rock Creek Canyon serve up great meals; the lower resort is a bit on the gourmet side while the one by Rock Creek Lake serves café style. Tom’s Place is at the mouth of Rock Creek canyon for the most reasonably priced meals and biggest selection. All three places mentioned have general stores perfect for the usual ice cream or beer break.
Wild Willies Hot Tub – natural hot spring for soaking and enjoying time go by. Easy directions are found in our hot springs book inside the cabin. For the adventurous there are several other hot springs hidden throughout the same general area – consult the book and watch out for mud during early spring. Many guests have relaxed out in the springs for sunsets or moon rises.
Duck Pass Trail/Hike – The trailhead is at the end of the Coldwater Creek campground in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. (About a 25 minute drive from the cabin) Many trails lead up to Arrowhead Lake, Skelton Lake, Barney Lake, and up on over the pass to Duck Lake. We were at Duck Lake on 9–11. As one of the best hikes Mammoth has to offer, the trail can get busy and sometimes is in rough shape due to overuse. Lots of other hikes and lakes can be found at this popular trailhead.
Reading next to the creek – we do this for hours on end. Check out the local guide books, Hot Springs of the Eastern Sierra, Mammoth From the Inside, and Guide to Yosemite and the Southern Sierra. The local interest books are great too: These Canyons are Full of Ghosts, I Caught a Fisherman, Owens Valley Water Wars, Pearsonville 93527, Lone Pine CA, etc. Plenty of finance and real estate related books, a bit of something for everyone! Plenty of maps too, please use them fully just remember to leave them upon departure.
Fishing the June Lake Loop – June, Gull, Silver, Grant, and Rush Creek too. Favorites and which spot is best is highly debatable. I’ll throw one out there: From the Pine Cliff Resort (on June Lake) take the dirt road to the right and follow it down to the free boat launch. Follow the road until it ends, park. A fishing trail now skirts near the lake, but above it. Follow the trail until you hit the huge fallen Juniper tree, then scramble down for some great fishing off the rocks. There are some underground springs there that feed the lake and the fish love to hang out and get caught! Bring some salami and string so the crawdaddies don’t feel left out.
Side trip to the free June Lake beach – drop off the non-fisherpersons and sun bathers here so they can have some fun swimming – warm weather is best.
Libraries and Visitor’s Centers – at the Libraries you can catch up with some free high-speed internet access. Hilton Creek, Mammoth Lakes, and June Lake libraries are all available but Mammoth is open and staffed for the longest hours. (10am-7pm daily except for Sunday)
Visitor Centers in Mammoth and Lone Pine are awesome, your head will spin at the endless recreational opportunities that are offered.
Museums – visit the Hayden Cabin (opposite Mammoth Creek Park) and the Mammoth Ski Museum.
Cross country skiing – Tamarack is the first choice, the trails all throughout the Lakes Basin are fun and challenging. Rock Creek also offers a trail system for a fee of $5. Other free and recommended areas are the Shady Rest trail system (in Mammoth), the road to the Minaret Vista from Mammoth Mountain’s main lodge, Inyo Craters vicinity, and the Obsidian Dome/Hartley Springs area on the 395 between Mammoth and June Lake.
Mammoth Mountain/June Mountain Ski areas – just had to put this in as we put in a lot of days at both resorts. Both ski areas are fabulous and about a ½ hour drive apart. From our pedaling experience, Mammoth Mountain offers an excellent mountain bike park in the summer and fall. The trip up to the top in the gondola is fun year round just for sight seeing and for the new interpretive center too. Small snack bar at the top includes beer & wine.
Reds Lake near the base of chairs 13 & 14 is a great place for a cool high altitude swim. Dirt road access to the lake is on your left as you head up and about 1/4 mile past the chair 12 under-crossing. (summer only)
Out of area day trips – Yosemite, Bodie Ghost town, and Death Valley. We haven’t been spending much time in Yosemite or Bodie as of late, but we do enjoy Death Valley and Panamint Valley a lot – something to be said for being able to leave the high country once in a while… out of the snow and into the desert.
McGee Creek Canyon Trail/pack station – just down the road from the cabin is another great hiking spot. (go figure) The McGee Creek trail leads to numerous lakes and the wildflowers last long into July many years. The pack station is the most affordable around and comes recommended.
Off road exploring and other expeditions! – This area, folks, is the last of the wild west. Our OHV and 4×4 opportunities are vast. Local areas of interest include, Mammoth to June Lake, Tungstens, Buttermilks, Coyote, White Mountains, Glass Mountains, etc. For those who want to see it all, longer expeditions include June Lake to Hawthorne, Crowley Lake to Death Valley, or even Mammoth to Baja Mexico, and points beyond or in between. All routes are dirt and full of discovery and adventure. From the Eastern Sierra one can cover a huge part of our country all on dirt roads — the only barriers being Canada and Mexico.
Fall colors – coming up to see the trees change color in mid September through mid October is a big deal. Best viewing spot is right out the window of the cabin. Other favorite locales include Rock Creek, June Lake, and Conway Summit.
Fruit picking at the Apple Hill Ranch in Wilkerson – this orchard on 20 acres has Rawson Creek running through – an incredible place. The picking season is long with cherries and apricots ripening first – prices are decent and they don’t weigh you in prior to picking! Wilkerson is about 3 miles south of Bishop, next time we go I’ll log the exact street directions and post them up. No reservations required.
*Updated with directions: leaving Bishop headed south on the 395 the Gerkin Road exit comes quickly after passing the golf course. Exit right and follow Gerkin Road to Wilkerson – a couple miles or so. Entering the neighborhood look for Sierra Grande. Make right onto Sierra Grande and head up the hill through a nice residential area. The road will turn into dirt, the Apple Hill Ranch entrance will be on your left. Follow the driveway thru the orchard as it winds and crosses over Rawson Creek. The owner’s house is at the end of the driveway, plenty of parking is available. Ring the outside bell if no one is around – but usually someone is and can get you some tips on picking and where to go. Our last trip there mid September 08 was amazing with so much fruit and vegetables ripe, sweet, and full of flavor.
Farmer’s Market – held on Main Street in Mammoth on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer and fall from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Get there early for best selection and long line avoidance. Good stuff!
Mammoth Lakes outdoor ice rink – how did that make the list? Very fun and visitor friendly, I should know. Open daily from Thanksgiving to second week in March, weather permitting. K2 skate rentals, hot cocoa, heated bathrooms, firepits, and music.
Mammoth Dog Sled Adventures for guided tours - http://www.mammothdogteams.com/
Other hikes, boat rentals, horseback riding. Too much to list, but many outfits up here offer horse rides, boat rentals, and even guiding services. Please bring to us your questions before or during your stay. We enjoy meeting our guests and chatting it up. Future guests too!
Places to eat – *closest first (our list might represent 10% of what is available up here, email me if I’ve missed a favorite of yours)
Crowley Lake store – good pizza, freshly prepared food, coffee. Quick stop for those on the go.
Tom’s Place – eating on a budget, diner style menu, lots of character, horseshoe shaped ECV bar.
Rock Creek Lodge – bring your pocket book and be surprised at the offerings in a Lodgepole pine forest setting. Before or after dinner stroll along Rock Creek mandatory.
Rock Creek Lake Resort – cafe style breakfast and lunch. You can park at the East Fork lot and hike (or run) up along Rock Creek to the resort. (another one of our all time favorite walks – about 4 miles round trip) The walk around Rock Creek Lake is easy.
Convict Lake Resort – On the higher end, but good. The 2.3 mile hike around Convict Lake is another family favorite – especially prior to dusk.
Gomez’s - Mexican restaurant in Mammoth, now hidden away in the village.
Roberto’s – On Old Mammoth Road, Roberto’s now beats Gomez’s with their daily “Roberto’s Classic” lunch special for $8.50. It features one taco, one enchilada, and rice and beans, 11:00 – 2:00 p.m. only.
Good Life Cafe - Tucked away in the Mammoth Mall, great fried zucchini sticks, breakfast and lunch specials.
Giovannis – In Mammoth and a must for pizza lovers, close to Vons.
Salad bars in Mammoth – first choice is Giovannis, in second place are the salad bars on Mammoth Mountain – open during winter season they are decent and we appreciate the mountain offering that convenience.
Mammoth Mountain (winter) – Taco tuesdays at the Mill near chair 2. $2 tacos and $2 tequilla shots how can one go wrong? A perfect Tuesday for us looks like: powder in the a.m., VC races at noon, quick salad bar at main lodge, helping out with snowboard PE at 2:00 p.m., and then the last chair down to the Mill after 4 p.m. for some tacos.
Latin Market taco stand - best salsa bar in Mammoth! Located near the Charthouse and Mogul on Tavern road.
Salsa's – Mexican food next to the Police Station… don't forget to order some fried Jalapenos.
La Palma – in Bishop, and another place for good Mexican food. Great salsa bar too, really hits the spot after hiking all day in the Whites, Bishop Creek drainage, or up and around the Chocolate Lakes loop.
Tiger Bar – June Lake, similar to Tom’s Place with authentic character. Pool table, sharks, juke box, clampers, local militia, and tiger chips.
Tioga Toomies – in Lee Vining, you’ve all heard by now about this affordable gourmet Mobile gas station diner but you probably haven’t heard about the bachelor party crashed by a person in a bear costume.
Toyko Sushi in Reno – number one all you can eat sushi in Reno – pro tip - bottomless free hot sake Mon-Thurs.
Lakanuki and SmokeYard – excellent runner up for happy hour drink and food specials, 3 – 6 p.m. daily. Both in the village and right across from each other.