Sightseeing at Devils Postpile National Monument

Oct 15, 2020

Encompassing the Devils Postpile formation, Rainbow Falls and acres of stunning mountain scenery, Devils Postpile National Monument is a Mammoth Lakes must-see. The natural landmark is typically open from mid-June through mid-October (weather permitting) and attracts view-seekers, hikers, fisherman and wildlife-watchers. 

What is Devils Postpile?

Resembling a tidy lumber pile created by giants, Devils Postpile’s 60-foot basalt columns were formed when lava erupted in the valley nearly 100,000 years ago and filled the area to a depth of 400 feet. Then, glaciers overrode the fractured mass of lava and quarried away one side of the postpile about 10,000 years ago, exposing and polishing a sheer wall of columns and enhancing the appearance of the natural hexagonal structure. 

Hiking, Fishing & Other Things to Do

Visitors can hike 8 miles of trails at Devils Postpile National Monument and can also choose to venture outside the landmark’s boundaries to the Ansel Adams Wilderness. To hike Devils Postpile, take the half-mile trail to the base, then continue uphill to the formation’s summit for incredible views. Or ramble the 2.5-mile route from the ranger station to 101-foot Rainbow Falls, the perfect spot for a mid-afternoon picnic. 

Anglers will find great trout fishing on the San Joaquin River, a designated Wild Trout River. Prime fishing spots can be found on the river’s banks near the parking lot and further past Soda Springs Meadow. Pick up all the gear you need from a Mammoth Lakes fishing outfitter and be sure to get your California fishing license. 

Devils Postpile is home to more than 100 species of birds and many mammals, including black bears, pine martens, mule deer and coyotes — making the area an excellent place for wildlife watching. Dusk and dawn are the best times to see wild creatures; plan accordingly and remember to view them from a distance for your own safety.

Getting to Devils Postpile

A shuttle bus is required during the busy summer months (mid-June through early September) and departs from the Mammoth Adventure Center and The Village at Mammoth.
Visitors can also drive to the monument during other times of year, but the parking lot fills up extremely fast so be prepared to arrive early. During the wintertime, roads to the national monument are closed, and the area is only accessible to backcountry skiers and snowshoers. Since there are no services available in the area during the wintertime, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing should only be pursued by those in good physical condition with proper avalanche-safety skills.