Try Something New: Full Moon Tours

Oct 20, 2020

Want to experience the mountains under the light of the full moon? There are plenty of places to go and explore Mammoth after dark and winter is no exception. From snowshoeing to cross country skiing, and a backcountry lodge that serves gourmet food there are plenty of nighttime destinations and ways to get there under the light of the moon.

It might go without saying, but for your full moon adventure you’ll want to dress a little warmer than you normally would for a daytime trek. Bring snacks, water and a thermos with your favorite hot beverage. Pack a flashlight or headlamp in case you get in shaded areas and if you are planning on capturing the stunning landscape, bring a tripod (table-top or full-size).  Look for a destination that is unobstructed from trees, so you can maximize the full moon viewing. Here are a few of our favorite spots and adventures to enjoy the moon.

Mammoth Lakes Basin

If it’s your first time heading outside under the light of the full moon, take a naturalist-guided cross country ski or snowshoe tour in the Mammoth Lakes Basin—ski/snowshoe experience required. Tamarack’s full moon tours include equipment, guide for the evening, trail access, and a fireside hot beverage. You’ll set out from the cross country ski center and travel along the groomed trails for 1.5-hour after dark adventure.

If you’d rather go on your own, strap on your skis or snowshoes and head up the Lakes Basin winter access corridor from the end of Lake Mary Road. Climb up the road to Lake Mary and continue on to Horseshoe Lake, for a 5-mile round trip trek. The unobstructed views will allow the full moon to shine, and you’ll see the lake and forest in an entirely different light.

Rock Creek

The groomed cross country trails in Rock Creek Canyon make for an excellent winter recreation destination. And under the full moon, you’ll enjoy the climb up to Rock Creek Lake. Bring your own cross-country skis or snowshoes and set out from the SnoPark. It’s about 5-miles round trip to the Rock Creek Lake, where the canyon opens up and you’ll see the best views of the surrounding 12,000- and 13,000-foot peaks.

Along the way you’ll pass Rock Creek Lodge, which operates a winter backcountry lodge and serves four-course prix fixe dinners family style. The lodge also offers snowmobile rides for dinner guests. Inquire about the menu, make a reservation, and have the most adventurous full moon dinner ever. 

Minaret Vista

Situated at 9,265 feet at the saddle between Mammoth Mountain and the San Joaquin ridge, the Minaret Vista is arguably the best lookout point in the region. To see the views of the Minarets and the Ritter Range under the light of the full moon, you’ll have to work to get there.

Set out from Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge and head up the summer road to the vista. The forested route might be shaded from the moon’s glow, so you’ll definitely want a headlamp or flashlight to help guide the way. In 2.5 miles you’ll reach the Reds Meadow Entrance Station summer shack, hang right and continue to the top of the Minaret Vista for the best views.

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 and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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