Water Play in the Mammoth Lakes Basin

From the water I am surrounded by the glassy reflection of a lakeshore lined with pine trees. The sky is blue but the water is pine-green. Crystal Crag towers overhead and the Mammoth Crest looms in the background. All is quiet and calm; a bald eagle soars overhead and I pause to soak it all in. There’s something about kayaking Lake Mary.

The Mammoth Lakes Basin is a gem in our backyard. From hiking, biking, and fishing, the basin is full of visitors enjoying the outdoors all summer long, but until you’ve seen the lakes from the water, you haven’t fully experienced the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

Mammoth Lakes Basin Marinas and Boat Launch Sites

There are a few marinas and boat launch sites in the Mammoth Lakes Basin that make getting on the water easy.

Pokonobe Resort and Marina is located on the northern shore of Lake Mary and offers pontoon, motor boat, kayak, and paddleboard rentals by the hour, half-day, and full-day.  They also have fishing supplies, and rentals, as well as a general store selling most things you may need including beer, ice, snacks, and cold drinks. Phone: 760-934-2437

On the south shore of Lake Mary near the Coldwater Campground, the Lake Mary Marina also offers kayak, SUP, and fishing boat rentals. Phone: (760) 934-5353.

Wildyre Lodge and Boat Rental is located on the north shore of Lake Mamie. The lake is adjacent to Lake Mary and the Twin Falls overlook. The lake is best seen from the water since it is surrounded by forest. Rowboats are available by reservation or on a first-come-first serve basis and can be rented hourly, daily, or weekly.  Phone: 760-934-2444

Lake George has a boat launch facilities and fishing motorboat rentals managed by Woods Lodge. George is one of the smaller lakes in the basin, but it is not short on views. It’s tucked just beneath Crystal Crag and is surrounded by granite cliffs.  Phone: 760-934-2261

Tamarack Lodge on Twin Lakes rents fishing boats and kayaks and also has a boat launch facility. The largest of the lakes in the basin has fantastic views of Twin Falls and the volcanic cliffs on the east side of Mammoth Mountain.  Phone: 760-934-2442

Stand-up Paddle Board Rentals

If you have a way to drive stand-up paddleboards in your car, you’ll have the opportunity to explore different lakes in the region, not just the ones with marinas. Here are a few shops in Mammoth Lakes that have rentals:

Footloose Sports – 760-934-2400

Kittredge Sports – 760-934-7566

Mammoth Outdoor Sports – 760-934-3239

Wave Rave Snowboard Shop – 760-934-2471

Where to Go in the Lakes Basin

There are five lakes in the Mammoth Lakes Basin that are easily accessible by car or the town trolley. Each lake is listed below as you drive up Lake Mary Road into the basin.

Twin Lakes is the first destination in the Lakes Basin that you’ll drive past. There is a small footpath that circles the back of the lake, a campground and lodge, as well as great viewpoints of Twin Falls, and the lava tubes. Boat rentals and a launch spot is on the eastern shore as you drive in.

Lake Mary is considered the center of the basin and offers two marinas for boat rentals and general stores. There are also two campgrounds on each shore, a road that circles the entire lake, and a nearby trailhead at Coldwater.

Tucked in the woods adjacent to Lake Mary and beneath Lake George, Lake Mamie is a little hide way of a lake surrounded by trees and tall grasses. Though it is located on the main road, it feels a little more off the beaten path. There is a small footpath that circles the lake and a lodge that offers rustic cabins and boat rentals. 

Lake George is the highest elevation lake in the basin that is accessible by road. It is a smaller lake, but has alpine views, a hiking trail, a campground, lodge, and boat launch and rental facility.

Located at the end of lake Mary Road, Horseshoe Lake is surrounded by a large sandy beach. It’s the local’s favorite dog paly area and is a great destination for SUPing and hanging on the beach all day. There is a trail that loops around the lake and a trailhead that access the wilderness.

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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