Mammoth Lakes Basin Exploration

Protected by the majestic Sierra Nevada Range, the Mammoth Lakes Basin is an outdoor enthusiast’s oasis of towering pine forests, clear blue lakes and cascading mountain streams. Serene alpine lakes nestle within picturesque mountains rising so rapidly that they appear to kiss the sky. In the spring and summer, wildflowers splash vivid colors against the surrounding rock walls in a truly breathtaking display. With over a dozen lakes, five well-appointed campgrounds and over 50 miles of designated hiking trails, the awesome grandeur of the Mammoth Lakes Basin awaits your sightseeing adventure.

Located partially within the John Muir Wilderness and only minutes from downtown Mammoth Lakes, the Lakes Basin provides incomparable access to one of the earth’s most spectacular offerings. Whether you’re looking to try something adventurous or are just in the mood for relaxing on the beach, the Mammoth Lakes Basin has something for everyone. Once the snow begins to recede in the spring, hikers, campers, fishermen, paddleboarders, rock climbers and sightseers from around the world visit the area to enjoy one of nature’s finest mountain playgrounds.

Sightseeing is not just limited to Mother Nature’s best in the Lakes Basin. At the far end of the Coldwater Creek Campground, a depression-era mining camp complete with ramshackle buildings sits preserved in a state of arrested decay. During the winter, visitors are able to explore the forested shorelines by snowshoe or cross country skis on one of Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center’s numerous groomed trails. For current trail conditions and hours of operation, visit Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center.

The Mammoth Lakes Basin is conveniently located only five minutes from downtown Mammoth Lakes. If driving, follow Main Street until it becomes Lake Mary Road. Proceed west and uphill to one of the many public parking areas or National Forest campgrounds. Don’t feel like driving? Take the free Orange Line trolley, complete with a bike-friendly trailer, into the basin from the Village at Mammoth. For those interested in burning some calories, a paved bike path leads uphill from the junction of Minaret and Main streets and into the heart of the Lakes Basin.

Additional Resources:

Friends of the Inyo, a local nonprofit group, offers weekly to biweekly interpretive earth history hikes within the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

For camping availability, expert advice and trail conditions, drop by the local office of the U.S. Forest Service at the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center or visit their website. Campsites may be reserved online here or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Several outfitters rent small fishing boats, kayaks and paddleboards for use in the Lakes Basin. For the latest information, pick up a Mammoth Lakes Visitor Guide or see the listings on this website.