Hours of Operation
Devils Postpile National Monument and the Reds Meadow Valley are open 24 hours per day, seven days per week during the operating season. If planning a trip in June, September, or October, please check the website for current weather and closure information. The monument may close temporarily if winter weather arrives early.
The ranger station is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily during the operating season.
The National Park Service is looking at different ways to increase recreational river access for fishing, easy walking and scenic picnicking along the river. As part of this effort, Devils Postpile National Monument is considering the future of the park's 20-site campground.
The 20-site campground has been closed since 2016 to address infrastructure repairs, safety needs, and the impacts of intense winters. As a result, staff has had an opportunity to reconsider additional opportunities for the campground. The monument has limited and congested day-use facilities that do not meet the demands of the 135,000 annual visitors, while camping is readily available nearby in U.S. Forest Service campgrounds. Day users average 1,500 per day rising to 2,500 on weekends and holidays. The campground on the busiest day would have less than 100 people.
Trails and Day-Use Areas
All trails in the monument are open.
During the shuttle bus operating season, visitors who are not required to use the shuttle bus and are backpacking may use the overnight hiker parking just outside the monument boundary. There is a quarter-mile trail from there to the trailhead.
Shuttle bus users should leave their vehicle at the shuttle bus parking area at Mammoth Mountain. There is no charge to park your vehicle overnight. Please do not leave any food or scented items in your vehicle when leaving it overnight. Bear-proof food lockers are available at Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge. Before or after the shuttle bus operating season, backpackers may drive into the Reds Meadow Valley and park overnight in designated areas. There is no overnight parking in the Reds Meadow Valley or Devils Postpile after October 15; backpackers must arrange for a shuttle or taxi, or be prepared to hike out. The road is not plowed after October 15.
If your backpacking trip starts while the shuttle bus is operational and ends after the shuttle bus season, please notify the staff at the Minaret Vista entrance station. You will be able to drive into the valley. You must provide your wilderness permit as proof of your trip plan and must pay the standard amenity fee. Wilderness permits are not available at the Devils Postpile Ranger Station and must be obtained from Inyo National Forest.
Reds Meadow Shuttle Bus
The mandatory Reds Meadow Shuttle typically runs from mid- to late June and through Labor Day (first Monday in September). Visitors not meeting one of the exceptions must ride the shuttle bus.
Visitors driving into the Reds Meadow Valley before or after the operating hours of 7:00 am to 7:00 pm must pay the standard amenity fee of $10/vehicle or show an interagency pass at the Minaret Vista Entrance Station.
Seasons at Devils Postpile
Spring is not generally a long season in the Sierra. At Devils Postpile, it is the time when meadows flood, the rivers swell, and everyone waits for roads to be cleared of snow. Depending on the year, winter can linger into early summer, dropping snow on nearby Mammoth Mountain until Fourth of July. But other years, the shooting stars start to bloom in early June, just as the water recedes from the meadows. Visitors in late spring and early summer should check conditions often as road closures due to weather are not uncommon and opening dates are often delayed.
The mandatory Devils Postpile/Reds Meadow shuttle bus typically begins operations in late June (weather permitting) and runs through early September, which is considered the end of the summer season. If the monument opens in mid-June, expect a relatively quiet experience with uncrowded trails, an occastional patch of snow, and amazing water flows at both Rainbow Falls and Minaret Falls. In July, the waterfalls are still full, but so are park trails, overlooks, and shuttle buses. In August, crowds peak, campgrounds are typically full during the weekends, and flow in the waterfalls decreases significantly. Although Rainbow Falls flows year round, it is most impressive in June and July. August, however, is typically the warmest month and crowds usually subside around the end of the month just before the last rush during Labor Day weekend.
Fall is a beautiful time to be in the monument, but the weather can be a bit unpredictable. Once the mandatory shuttle bus stops running, parking lots fill quickly. A parking shuttle operates between Reds Meadow Resort and Devils Postpile on weekends to relieve parking congestion. Generally, days are warm and nights are cold through early October. Blue skies prevail, but winter storms are not far away. Visitors in September and October will enjoy fall color that typically peaks in early October. Be prepared for rapidly changing weather, particularly if visiting in October. The ranger station is usually open through Columbus Day weekend (second Monday in October), weather permitting. The monument typically closes the last Sunday in October, however, winter storms often force an earlier closure. Temporary closures due to weather are not uncommon in the fall. If you visit on the right day, however, there is nothing better than a cool fall breeze rustling the aspen and cottonwood trees along the San Joaquin River.
This may seem an odd time of year to visit Devils Postpile since no facilities are open, the road is closed, and the only access is by skis or snowshoes, but the Reds Meadow Valley is a beautiful and wild place in this season.Trips into the Reds Meadow Valley are not for novice backcountry skiers and snowshoers. You should have plenty of experience hiking or snowshoeing on unmarked routes, have a map and compass and know how to use them to navigate cross-country (even if you have a GPS), and be equipped with and know how to use basic avalanche rescue gear. The very strenuous trip is nine miles each way, with nearly 2,000 feet of elevation change. Check with the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center for current avalanche conditions. Plan ahead. Solo travel is not recommended.
Last updated: February 22, 2021