5 Reasons Why Fall is the Best Time to Visit Mammoth Lakes

Aug 02, 2023

Yes, there is life after Labor Day in Mammoth Lakes! While many residents claim to have arrived for the winters and remained for the summers, fall is truly a season to savor. Come make the most of this nearly secret, magical time of year in the mountains.

5. It’s Less Crowded

Autumn is the perfect time to avoid the crowds who flock to Mammoth Lakes during peak seasons and holidays. You can explore beloved trails, popular attractions and the best fishing spots with less competition and more serenity. It may be impossible to have Devils Postpile to yourself on a midday Saturday in the summer, but it’s actually quite likely on a sunny October afternoon. This means you’ll get even more amazing photo opportunities.  

4. It’s Affordable

Fewer visitors often translates to better bargains and less competition for the best lodging accommodations and restaurant experiences. Nearly all of Mammoth Lakes’ hotels operate year round, condominiums are plentiful and most campgrounds and cabins are open through the end of September and sometimes into October (weather-permitting). Fall is your opportunity to finally score that stunning lakeside campsite or luxury suite you couldn’t get during summer or winter.  Check out some of our Fall Specials here.

Just a couple of years ago, some restaurants would close for the quieter season between summer and winter; these days only a handful shut down completely. Inquire about reduced days and hours of operation, but don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of choices as well as individualized service—sometimes from the restaurant owner themselves! Some restaurants may offer unique menus or specials to entice both locals and visitors to dine out. There is also no better time to secure reservations at popular or smaller restaurants, such as one of the ten tables at The Lakefront

3. Plenty of Activities and Events

Many of the region’s most popular activities, like hiking, fishing, cycling, boating and climbing all continue well into the fall and beyond. Building on their success over the last few summers, local event organizers keep expanding their offerings. Check out our events calendar to learn more about fall events like the Rock N Rye Whiskey Festival, the new Outbound Music Festival, Mammoth Gran Fondo, and Mammoth Tuff

Mammoth Lakes boasts some wonderful theater and music as part of its thriving arts and culture scene. Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre kicks off its annual season in September and produces shows throughout October. You can also catch a concert by the talented Felici Piano Trio, among other local performers.

2. The Best Weather

Fall in Mammoth Lakes brings some of the most pleasant, consistent weather of the year. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons and brisk evenings are perfect for epic adventures. Average daytime high temperatures in September and October range between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, while nighttime lows hover around the freezing mark. September and early October are historically the driest time of year with very little precipitation, while the first snowfall almost always arrives in the high elevations by mid-October. 

Check the weather before you head out and dress in layers as temperatures fluctuate quite a bit throughout the day. Remember that the sun sets earlier as it drops behind the majestic mountain peaks, so take a flashlight or headlamp along even on day hikes and be prepared with warm clothing, including a hat, if you are camping or enjoying other outdoor activities. Wildlife sightings also increase as the animal population prepares for winter. The insects that dog high country hikers and anglers in summer are long gone, but black bears are out and about packing on the pounds before hibernation, providing amazing opportunities to observe these creatures (from a respectful distance!) in their natural habitat.

1. Stunning Scenery and Fall Foliage

Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra are unforgettably beautiful in all seasons, but the fall foliage here is simply spectacular. Nothing quite compares to the sight of golden Aspen leaves nestled against slate grey, snow-dusted granite peaks reflected in still alpine lakes. Fall colors typically begin in the highest elevations by the end of September, and finish at lower elevations by early November. 

Some surefire ways to experience brilliant displays of fall color are fishing or paddling in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, cycling or driving the June Lake Loop, and hiking around Convict Lake and Rock Creek. Check online for the latest reports, or stop by the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center when you arrive for information and suggested itineraries. 

Betsy Temple-Truax

Betsy loves living and playing in Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra with her active family and friends. A passionate advocate for community recreation, Betsy never turns down an opportunity to swim, ski, paddle, travel or let someone else cook.

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