Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Things to do in Mammoth, Part I: Exploring the Lakes Basin

As promised, the rest of this week (and probably a little into next week) will be dedicated to summer vacationing in Mammoth Lakes, California. 
Tim and I had never been to Mammoth, and what we did know about it was winter-related. What do you do in a mountain town if you can't ski or snowboard? We were determined to find out. 

Each post in this series will focus on a different day of our vacation, and touch on the various things you can do in Mammoth Lakes, California during the summer. So, here's part 1 of 6!

We stayed in a company cabin right near the heart of downtown Mammoth Lakes, just across the highway from Mammoth Village. Since we didn't know much about the area, we spent our first day exploring the town. We checked out the Ranger station and Visitor's Center, picked up some brochures to help plan the rest of our trip. We knew we wanted to do some hiking and probably rent bikes at some point, but that's really all that we knew. 

Armed with more brochures and maps than we would know what to do with, we plotted out a rough sketch of the week, setting aside at least a day for each activity. Then, because we didn't want to spend the whole day planning the vacation, we popped out a map to pick out some places to visit that day. We picked the Mammoth Lakes Basin.
As can be assumed by its name, the town of Mammoth Lakes is surrounded by dozens of small lakes. The Lakes Basin was just a few miles from our condo, and housed five or six gorgeous little lakes, all of which were accessible by road. There are camping facilities near most of them, and they run about $21 a day, which is not too shabby when every campsite has a lakeview. So, we popped on over to a few of the lakes to see what they had to offer.

The first stop was Twin Lakes, because it was the first lake we reached and it had parking available. That's always a plus! It's two tiny lakes with a narrow connecting point, kind of like a figure 8. A bridge runs between the two of them. 

According to our map, there was a trail that circled the lakes, but either the map was wrong or we picked the wrong twin because the trail we followed abruptly ended in an avalanche of rock. 

We were directly across the lake from our car, so turning back would have been equidistant to going forward, so we blazed our own trail across the rocks. Made for some gorgeous views, even though some of the footing was less than stable. It was a lot of fun though!

We passed up on a few of the other lakes (like Lake Mary and Lake George) for lack of time, but made sure to make a stop at Twin Falls, along the road a ways and at the top of Twin Lakes. 

Gorgeous, right? We climbed down the falls a ways to get a better view of them, and even though they were small, they were spectacular. I mean, really! 

Our final stop for the day was Horseshoe lake. This was another small lake in the basin with a HUGE stretch of beach, and it was a sort of unofficial dog-friendly lake (pretty much everywhere in Mammoth is dog-friendly, but you can let your pups off-leash here since its far from most civilization. Also, no one really cares). 

Horseshoe lake is also unique in its landscape for another reason: areas of the soil leech volcanic CO2, which kills all plant life. There are several  areas into which children and dogs aren't allowed; since they're lower to the ground than adults, the concentration of CO2 can be lethal to them. 

That night, we decided to try a restaurant in Mammoth Village for dinner, since there were so many to choose from. While we were perusing menus from various places, we ran into friends from college (Tim's roommate when we first started dating) and they were on their honeymoon! Funny story; the guy had planned of attending our wedding but it completely slipped his mind because he was on a first date--with his now wife! It is such a small world. We took them out to dinner to celebrate, and spent a few hours reminiscing. 
The next day's agenda: camping!

1 comment:

  1. I am DYING over the beautiful scenery! I've never heard of mammoth lakes before, but it's definitely on my vacation destination list now!!
    You're so lucky you got to camp there!


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