33 Unique Things to Do in Mammoth Lakes this Summer

One thing’s for sure about Mammoth Lakes in the summer. There are seemingly unending things to do here. No matter your interests or ability level, our little Eastern Sierra mountain town has something for everyone. From sightseeing and adventuring to fishing and biking, here are 33 activities that will make this summer the best one yet. Be sure to check with the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center to see when certain areas, such as the Mammoth Lakes Basin, Reds Meadow and the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, open for the summer, as the date changes each year based on snowfall.

1. Hike in the Mammoth Lakes Basin

With countless trails, Mammoth Lakes is a top hiking destination. The region offers hikes for adventurers of all abilities, and the Mammoth Lakes Basin has quite a few trailheads. Hike the short but strenuous Crystal Lake Trail to see the alpine lake, or hike the Mammoth Rock Trail for mountain and valley views. 

2. Ride the Mammoth Bike Park

Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has more than 80-miles of singletrack for downhill and cross country mountain biking. Beginners will love the meandering Downtown Mountain Bike Trail, while more advanced riders will enjoy the fast descent from the summit on Off the Top bike park trail.

3. Go Road Biking

For great aerobic exercise and stunning scenery, explore the roads of the Eastern Sierra on your road bike. Benton Crossing Road (known locally as Green Church Road) is a popular spot for road biking year-round, but in the summer months, the ride to June Lake Loop is a favorite as well as the ride to Reds Meadow. 

4. Walk the Dog at Horseshoe Lake

Chances are Fido likes to vacation in Mammoth Lakes as much as you do. With a wide sandy shore, Horseshoe Lake and the 2-mile Horseshoe Lake Loop is a top destination for dogs and their human companions.

5. Go Backpacking

The Ansel Adams and John Muir wilderness areas are in our backyard. There are endless miles of hiking trails and backcountry regions to explore. All you need is to pack up your gear, get a permit, and go backpacking. Take the Shadow Creek Trail to the Minarets for an overnight trip, or hike the John Muir Trail to Tuolumne Meadows.

6. Kayak at Lake Mary

Head up to Pokonobe Resort and Marina or the Lake Mary Marina and rent a kayak for a few hours. The water is generally calm and the views from the lake are stunning. Don’t forget a waterproof case for your camera.

7. Go Rock Climbing

Whether you’re a true first-timer or taking your climbing skills from the gym to the crag for the first time, Ground Up Climbing Guides offers visitors a chance to try out the sport on a guided trip. In addition to custom, guided climbing trips, Ground Up Climbing Guides offers camps and clinics for a variety of skill levels.

8. SUP the Lakes

Rent a stand-up paddleboard from one of the outdoor stores in town and take it up to the Lakes Basin to get on the water and enjoy the views. If you don’t have a truck to haul the board, try reserving one at the Pokonobe Marina.

9. Boat on Convict Lake

There is nothing more relaxing than chilling on a lake on a pontoon boat for an afternoon. Fill up a cooler with cold drinks and snacks, bring some fishing rods, and head down to Convict Lake for a lake cruise. Be sure to call in advance and reserve a boat.

10. Ride the Lakes Basin Path

You don’t have to be an experienced bicyclist to enjoy the Lakes Basin Path. The paved downhill trail is popular among all ages and abilities. Take the free town trolley up to Horseshoe Lake with your bike and ride 5-miles all the way back down to the village.

11. Try a Mountaineering Skills Course

Learn how to use climb mountains in the Eastern Sierra with some of the world’s best guides. Courses cover alpine mountaineering skills, how to travel safely in the mountains, and climb peaks in the summer with. Various courses are offered by California Alpine Guides, Sierra Mountain Guides, and Sierra Mountaineering International throughout the year.

12. Go Horseback Riding at Rainbow Falls

The San Joaquin River plunges more than 100 feet at Rainbow Falls and the mist casts a stunning rainbow. A great way to see the waterfall is on horseback. Red’s Meadow Resort and Pack Station offers mule rides to the waterfall and longer rides to other popular destinations in the area. If you prefer to walk to the falls, the Rainbow Falls Trail is about 3-miles round trip.

13. Explore Devils Postpile National Monument

See the 60-foot tall basalt columns that were formed when a cooling lava flow cracked the basalt. The hike to the Devils Postpile is a short and easy walk from the ranger’s station at the Devils Postpile Trailhead.

14. Skate at Volcom Brothers Skatepark

The 40,000 square foot Volcom Brothers Skatepark features smooth concrete bowls, a giant cradle, a Burnside wall, lumps, humps, a love seat wall, and a lot of different transfers and trannies, too.

15. Visit the Mammoth Museum at the Hayden Cabin

Located near the creek at Mammoth Creek Park, the Hayden Cabin is a historical museum featuring mining history, local photography and paintings, and history exhibits from the region.

16. Walk the Agnew Wildflower Loop

As you descend into the Reds Meadow Valley, hop off the shuttle at the Agnew Meadows stop and take the Agnew Wildflower Loop. The short trail circles a nice meadow filled with seasonal wildflowers.

17. Take the Sotcher Lake Loop 

The easy 1.5-mile Sotcher Lake Loop in the Reds Meadow Valley. A self-guided nature trail offers a good introduction to the flora, fauna and geology of the region.

18. Golf 

With two golf courses and a driving range, Mammoth Lakes is a great destination for a golfing getaway. Play a round at the 18-hole Sierra Star Golf Course, or try the 9-hole course at Snowcreek Resort.

19. Go Fly Fishing at Hot Creek

Pack your fly rod and go fly fishing at Hot Creek. The water is home to more fish per square foot than anywhere else in California. Book a beginner or advanced guided trip with the Troutfitter Guide Service or the Sierra Drifters Guide Service.

20. Bowl 

The new Mammoth Rock N Bowl is a popular hangout at night among locals and a great option for inside activities during the winter. There’s also an indoor golf simulator, as well as two restaurants and a bar.

21. Roller Skate at the Rec Zone

The Mammoth Ice Rink turns into a roller skating rink and rec zone in the summer. The rink is located near the Mammoth Lakes Library and offers skate rentals, as well as access to volleyball, badminton, basketball, horseshoes, bean bag toss, blongoball, washer toss, skate ramps and more.

22. Explore Mono Lake

The alkaline lake is a nesting and resting place for migratory birds. Nearly 2,000,000 birds visit Mono Lake each year, so it’s a great place for bird watching. Stop at the Mono Lake State Nature Reserve and take a self-guided walk along the boardwalk to learn about the stunning tufa towers and history of the basin.

23. Daytrip to Yosemite National Park

America’s third national park is an easy and scenic 45-minute drive north of Mammoth Lakes. Stop in Tuolumne Meadows for a hike, or take a scenic drive to into the valley to see the iconic granite monoliths and waterfalls. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Yosemite National Park for more ideas.

24. Groove to Live Music

There are plenty of festivals and outdoor venues to see live music just about every weekend in Mammoth Lakes. Head up to the Whoa Nellie Deli at the Mobil Station in Lee Vining on Thursdays and Sundays for good tunes, or check out the outdoor stage at The Village at Mammoth on Fridays and Saturdays.

25. Run on a Trail 

There are hundreds of miles of trails in our backyard here in Mammoth Lakes, so if you are a runner, pack your shoes and head out for a trail run. Try the local’s favorite Mammoth Rock Trail for a great introduction to trail running and if you are ready to go longer, run the High Trail to Thousand Island Lake.

26. Go Beer Tasting

Grabbing a local beer after a day of summer activities is a great way to unwind. Stop by Mammoth Brewing Company or Distant Brewing for a pint. Groups can take an afternoon to go brewery hopping with Eastern Sierra Brewery Tours to get a taste of three local breweries.

27. Go Shopping

Spend an afternoon browsing local shops in Mammoth Lakes. Kids will love the Mammoth Fun Shop, filled with unique toys and games. The shops at The Village at Mammoth are also a favorite stop for visitors. Or stop by Booky Joint and the Book Chalet to find your next read.

28. Take Photography Trip 

The Eastern Sierra is Ansel Adams country. Bring your camera equipment and set out for a day of photographing the landscapes near Mammoth Lakes. The Minaret Vista is a great place for panoramic views of the Minarets at the golden hours.

29. Visit Bodie State Historic Park

The gold-mining ghost town was once a booming city of 10,000 people in the late 1800s. The park has been preserved in a state of arrested- decay. Take a day trip to Bodie State Historic Park and walk the streets with your camera, and take a tour of the stamp mill.

30. Visit Hot Creek Geologic Site

You’ll see plenty of fishermen at Hot Creek, but thermal water that steams up in the creek also makes an interesting sightseeing destination. You’ll see steam vents along the creek that boil up in turquoise pools of hot water. Osprey, egrets and bald eagles soar above the canyon hunting for fish. Enjoy a walk along the paved path or view the canyon from the parking area above.

31. Take a Scenic Gondola Ride 

Watch mountain bikers descend the singletrack trails as you ride up the Panorama Gondola to the summit of the 11,053-foot Mammoth Mountain. At the top, there is an interpretive center to learn about the surrounding mountains and geology of the region. Enjoy the views of the Minarets and the Ritter Range from the top. Ride back down the gondola, or hike down on the Mammoth Mountain Trail.

32. Play at the Adventure Center

Mammoth Mountain’s adventure pass for kids offers a day full of fun in the mountains. Try the climbing wall, zip line, or bungee trampoline at Main Lodge.

33. Relax and Take a Wellness Day

After all that adventuring around, your body will need some relaxation and recovery. Head north to June Lake and spend the day at the Double Eagle Resort and Spa. From massage and facial services to body therapies and the fitness center, you will feel rejuvenated after a few hours in a gorgeous rustic mountain setting.  

Monica Prelle

Monica Prelle is an outdoors, wine, and travel writer who would rather be running, climbing, or mountain biking. See more of Monica's posts here, read more of her work at monicaprelle.com and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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