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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Backpacking from 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. This affects access to Beck Lake, Fern Lake, John Muir Trail North of Devils Postpile, and Minaret Lake trailheads in Devils Postpile as well as several other Inyo National Forest trailheads elsewhere in Reds Meadow Valley.
When the Reds Meadow Road is closed at the Main Lodge, you can park in the parking areas alongside the road (lots A, B, C, etc.), but not in the Mammoth Mountain Inn parking lot.
When the road is open to Minaret Vista, you can park at any of the parking areas there. Do not block the road or park on vegetation.
Food lockers are not available at the Main Lodge or Minaret Vista; do not leave food, drinks, toiletries, trash, or other scented items in your car.
Your wilderness permit for a Reds Meadow Valley trailhead is valid if you're starting your hike at the Main Lodge or Minaret Vista and hiking to the trailhead indicated on your permit. If you want to instead start in the Lakes Basin, you will need a permit for Horseshoe Lake
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.
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.
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
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:
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 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.
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:
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: June 12, 2022