Outdoor Activities

Backpackers enter the Ansel Adams Wilderness.
Valley trailheads take visitors to either the Ansel Adams or John Muir Wilderness Areas where many hiking adventures await.

J. Winters

 

Summer Activities

Hiking

There are about eight miles of trails in Devils Postpile National Monument. The trails offer a variety of opportunities for all fitness levels. Expanding your hiking outside the boundaries of the monument will take you into the High Sierra of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. If hiking with your pet, it must be on a leash at all times while within the monument.

All of the following distances are round trip and from the Devils Postpile trailhead near the ranger station.

Devils Postpile

This easy 0.8-mile hike takes you to the base of Devils Postpile. It takes another 15 minutes uphill to reach the top of the postpile.

Rainbow Falls

This is a rolling, five-mile hike to Rainbow Falls. This hike can be hot and dry in the summer, so bring plenty of water.

Minaret Falls

This easy 1.4-mile hike takes you to a small cascading waterfall just outside the monument boundary.

Ansel Adams Wilderness

There are multiple destinations within day hiking distance from Devils Postpile in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Minaret and Fern Lakes are just a couple of the destinations you could visit. Ask a ranger for more information.

Hiking to Devils Postpile National Monument When Reds Meadow Road is Closed

Reds Meadow Road, which provides vehicle access to Devils Postpile National Monument, is typically closed from sometime in October to sometime in June. During this time, the only way to reach the monument is on foot. Keep in mind that the area may be snowy, making travel and navigation extremely difficult. We don't recommend traveling to the monument in snowy conditions unless you're a skilled wilderness traveler competent with cross-country navigation using a map and compass (even if you have GPS). Both these hikes or skis are strenuous.

You can hike or ski from the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge to the monument on the Reds Meadow Road. The trip is about 17 miles round trip with nearly 2,000 feet of total elevation gain. (If the road is open to Minaret Vista, the trip is 15 miles round trip.) Overnight parking is not available at either the lodge or Minaret Vista.

It is also possible to hike over Mammoth Pass from Horsehoe Lake in the Lakes Basin, which is about 11 miles round trip with over 2,000 feet of total elevation gain. The road to the Lakes Basin is typically closed from sometime in October until sometime in May, so this isn't usually an option except for a few weeks before Reds Meadow Road opens.

Ranger Guided Programs

Ranger-guided programs are a great way to learn about Devils Postpile and the surrounding area. A variety of programs are listed on the Events Calendar. Call 760-934-2289 for more information.

Fishing

The San Joaquin River is a designated Wild Trout River with ample fishing opportunities for all abilities. With a valid California fishing license, anglers can keep up to five fish. Venturing further from the parking lot, away from Soda Springs Meadow, will give you a bit more solitude, but there is plenty of fishing near the parking lot. If you do head out along the river bank to fish, please use established trails and limit your impact. Please help preserve the river for wildlife and other anglers by packing out all trash and fishing line.

Other fishing opportunities are available at nearby Sotcher and Starkweather Lakes. For more information on regulations and limits, please visit the California Department of Fish and Game site.

Wildlife Watching

Devils Postpile has 115 species of birds and all of the classic Sierran charismatic megafauna, such as black bears, coyotes, mule deer, and pine martens. The wildlife in the monument tends to be primarily crepuscular, meaning active at dawn and dusk. For wildlife watchers, the best time to visit is early morning or in the evening.

When viewing wildlife in the monument, remember, all animals are wild. Please do your part to keep them that way by viewing them from a distance. This will keep you and the wildlife safe. For more information about Devils Postpile's wildlife, visit our Nature and Science page.

Horseback Riding and Stock Use

Horses have long been an important part of exploring the Sierra. Commercial pack trips are available in the valley through the Reds Meadow Pack Station (which is located outside the monument), but visitors are welcome to bring their own stock. The trail from the ranger station to Devils Postpile is not open to stock use, but there are several other options. There is no stock trailer parking at Devils Postpile National Monument, but visitors may use the Rainbow Falls, Agnew Meadows, or Red Meadow parking areas. View a complete list of horse and stock use regulations.

Cycling and Mountain Biking

Road Biking

Cycling the road into the Reds Meadow Valley is a scenic adventure. If you are interested in biking into Reds Meadow, please consider the following advisories:

  • To avoid head-on collisions, do not pass stopped or slowed traffic as they may be waiting for an oncoming vehicle to pass safely.
  • On the downhill stretch into Reds Meadow, the road speed limit is 15 mph. By law, this speed limit applies to both cyclists and vehicles.
  • Downhill traffic must yield to uphill traffic and must stay to the right.
  • The road is narrow, winding, and steep. Be sure your brakes are in good condition before beginning your descent.
  • Riding into the valley during peak visitation times (11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) is not recommended.
  • Bikes will be loaded and unloaded only at the Adventure Center and at Reds Meadow Resort if space is available.
  • Shuttle buses can only transport a total of two bicycles at a time.
  • There is a speed bump on the road into Devils Postpile National Monument.
  • Helmets are recommended for all riders and are required for riders under 18 years of age.
  • All cyclists ride at their own risk. Please look after both your safety and the safety of others on the road.

If cyclists ride the shuttle buses out of the valley, they must pay the transportation fee. Those who cycle in and out of the valley (and don't use a shuttle bus) are exempt from the fee.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is generally not permitted in the Reds Meadow Valley and is not permitted anywhere in Devils Postpile National Monument. The one exception is the Starkweather Trail, which starts either at Starkweather Lake or at Minaret Vista. Mountain biking is only allowed on this trail AFTER the shuttle buses have stopped running for the season, which is generally the Wednesday after Labor Day (which is the first Monday in September). This is also a popular hiking trail, so ride cautiously. The nearby town of Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding Inyo National Forest offer endless mountain biking possibilities.


 

Winter Activities

Snowshoeing and Skiing

The Reds Meadow Valley, although closed to vehicles in the winter, is available to backcountry skiers and snowshoers. The very strenuous trip to Devils Postpile is nine miles each way, with nearly 2,000 feet of elevation change. This is a true winter wilderness experience and travel into the valley can be hazardous. For those with proper avalanche safety skills and physical conditioning, however, the valley offers outstanding touring and provides a gateway to the High Sierra backcountry. There are no facilities available in the valley in the winter and all travelers should be prepared to be self sufficient.

Snowmobiles are allowed on the Reds Meadow Road, although some sections of the road are not suitable for novice snowmobilers. Snowmobiles are not permitted on the road to Devils Postpile or anywhere within the boundaries of the monument; please be respectful of this regulation.

Remember that avalanches are common on the Reds Meadow Road. Traveling alone is not recommended in the winter due to the potential avalanche hazard. Anyone traveling into the valley should be equipped with and know how to use minimum safety equipment, including the following:

  • Avalanche beacon
  • Collapsible shovel
  • Avalanche probe
  • Extra food and water
  • Extra warm clothing
  • Ski/snowshoe repair kit

Winter travel in the valley can be a beautiful and rewarding experience. Research your trip ahead of time, checking the weather and avalanche forecasts. Check with the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center for updated reports throughout the winter.

Last updated: October 25, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 3999
Mammoth Lakes , CA 93546

Phone:

760 934-2289

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