California

High Sierras

Exhale in the rural landscapes and mountains of the High Sierras. Made up of well-known destinations like Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Lake Tahoe; the area is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. But it doesn't take much to find the regions less traveled and get off the beaten track.

Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern High Sierras may be a ski region, but it comes alive in the summer with a myriad of adventure activities and experiences for all levels, set against an incredible mountain and lake backdrop. This is an area where you can experience the landscapes in hands-on, active ways; it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or expert. Ride the trails, hike on mountain tops, climb the slabs, try beginning mountain biking, taste the locals brews, and don’t forget the ice cream after all of that activity!

Main Image © Kirsten Alana

Adventure Highlights

Bike 19 miles of paved biking paths for the soft adventurer who wants to get out and experience the lakes and mountains.

Summit Mammoth Mountain by Gondola and take some hikes around the top to experience the views.

Test your Spider Man skills at Horseshoe slabs. Climbing the ‘sticky’ granite slabs is a unique experience for beginners and advanced climbers.

Be a spectator or a participant in the Kamikaze Mountain Biking Games – both are equally exhilarating!

Cast a day away on a dry fly fishery surrounded by stunning mountain backdrops.

Experience 80 miles of single track mountain biking trails including a whole Discovery Park where beginners can learn the basics and build confidence.

Photo © Kirsten Alana
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Destination Facts

  • Mammoth Mountain is the tallest ski hill in California at 11,053 feet.
  • 750,000 years ago, the area experienced the 2nd largest volcanic eruption in the world creating the majestic mountain ranges that surround you in the High Sierras.
  • Hike around the largest living trees on earth in Sequoia National Park.
  • Visit Bodie, the official ghost town of California. Boo!
  • Mammoth was the first mountain to have lift access for mountain biking.
  • Mountains at Yosemite National Park are still growing at a rate of 1 foot per 1,000 years.
  • Mammoth Lakes is the home of the Kamikaze Bike Games for amateurs and pros.
  • The High Sierras boast over 300 days of sunshine a year!
  • The buffalo soldiers who initially patrolled Yosemite pioneered the distinctive hat worn by National Park Service rangers.
  • The highest and lowest points in the continental United States are within hours of each other spanning the California High Sierras and Desert regions.
  • In 1925 a giant sequoia located in California's Kings Canyon National Park was named the nation's national Christmas tree.

Road-Trip Itinerary

Catch your breath in Mammoth Lakes, it’s the perfect ‘exhale moment’ in a frantic itinerary. It’s a short and breathtaking 3 ½ hour drive from San Francisco airport. Stay in Mammoth Village as your hub for the area and be surrounded by restaurants and shops. Plus you can easily catch the free shuttles to take you out on adventures in the region.

Day 1

The adventure starts on the drive to High Sierra’s Mammoth Lakes via Yosemite National Park. Make the most of your drive through Yosemite and stop at Olmsted Point to stretch your legs. Hike up the granite slabs to get the best views away from the crowds. Continue driving through lush Tuolomne Meadows and enjoy the high mountain streams and views. Exit the park through Tioga Pass and arrive at Mammoth Lakes! Photo © Kirsten Alana

Day 2

Take it easy and get used to the altitude; experience the top of the Mammoth mountain without expending a lot of effort! Ride the gondola to the top and get grounded at the Elevation53 Interpretive center and their interactive learning stations. Then take in the 360 degree views while hiking around the trails at the top enjoying the views from 11,000 feet. Ride the gondola back down, or hike down if you are feeling energetic, and take the free shuttle back to Mammoth Village. Spend the evening exploring Mammoth Village shops, bars, and restaurants. And don’t forget to treat yourself to ice cream in the Village! Photo © Kirsten Alana

Day 3

Rent a bike at the Village and catch the free trolley to the Lakes Basin. Pack a lunch and have a scenic picnic by Horseshoe Lake. Hike around the lake and be sure to check out the horseshoe slabs on the south side. There you’ll find a range of beginner to intermediate single-pitch bolted sport climbing routes; great for teaching and learning! When you are done simply hop back on your bike and follow the paved trails all the way back into town past waterfalls and lakes; it’s all downhill! Photo © Kirsten Alana

Day 4

Start with some early morning angling around June Lakes. Or spend a morning driving north to Bodie, California’s ghost town, exploring the old buildings if you dare! Stop at Mono Lake to take in the spectacular rock formations and get some time on the water canoeing before watching the sunset light the lake up with color. Photo © Kirsten Alana

Day 5

Get the adrenaline pumping today with some mountain biking. Rent bikes and take the beginner or advanced trails. The gondolas will do all the work for you taking you to the best trails, now all you have to do is get down! Stop in at the Mammoth Brewing Company, for a beer, pub food, and get to know some of the locals. Keep going and experience the highs and lows of California! Connect this itinerary with the Desert itinerary by heading south to Ridgecrest where you can experience some of the lowest places in California! Photo © Kirsten Alana