Naturally, one of the main reasons to visit the Monument is the Postpile formation itself. Approximately 100,000 years ago, a lava flow erupted two miles upstream from the location of today's Monument. As it flowed down the Valley, it eventually ran into an obstruction which served as a dam to the lava's path. Pooling up to as deep as 400 feet behind the natural dam, the lava cooled. Conditions were such that the lava--that was incredibly uniform in its mineral composition--cooled at a very slow rate. As it cooled, it contracted and cracked, forming hexagonal columns. 80,000 years later, a glacier flowed through the same valley, overriding the formation and eventually revealing the sides and tops of the columns. Glacial polish can still be seen today at the top of the formation.
What to do
Just a 2.5 mile walk from the Ranger Station, Rainbow Falls is the highest water fall on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin river, plunging some 101-feet down to the turbulent water below, the falls are aptly named for the many rainbows that appear in its mist throughout sunny summer days.
Mammoth vacation rental Guests interested in a moderate day-hike can make a loop, embarking from the Ranger Station's trailhead to the Falls and returning via Shuttle Bus Stop 9, the Rainbow Falls Trailhead. The shuttle bus, which runs approximately every 20 or 30 minutes, can then return hikers to the Monument's Ranger Station from the Rainbow Falls trailhead.
Devils Postpile National Monument is located in the heart of California's Eastern Sierra. As such, a wide variety of recreational activities is available within close proximity to the hundreds of Mammoth condos in the region. Within the Monument's nearly 800 acres, visitors can explore the area's unqiue geology, take a day-hike along the John Muir or Pacific Crest trails, or simply enjoy a meal in our day-use area alongside the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin river. From camping, backpacking, and day hikes to fishing, photography, and horseback riding, there's something to do for everyone!
When to go
Visitors to the Monument in the fall should be ready for snow at any time. While planning your upcoming visit, it is important to remember that Devils Postpile National Monument is only open during the summer months.
Although opening dates can vary depending on snow conditions, the Monument usually opens in mid-June. By mid to late October, early winter storms in the High Sierra typically begin to cover the area with a white blanket of snow. For the next seven months, the Monument will lie buried beneath the snowpack until the spring melt wrestles the area from winter's grasp.
Established in 1911 by presidential proclamation, Devils Postpile National Monument protects and preserves the Devils Postpile formation, the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls, and pristine mountain scenery. The formation is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt. Its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry.
How to get there
SHUTTLE BUS SCHEDULE
July 3 - September 7
Buses leave from the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge Adventure Center. This is about 5 miles from the many Mammoth condos available through Mammoth Mountain Vacations. From 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. buses run every 45 minutes. From 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. they run every 20-30 minutes. From 4:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. they run every 40 minutes.
Pets are allowed in the campground and day use areas as well as on trails but must be on a leash at all times within the Monument. Devils Postpile is a pet friendly park. Pets are allowed on all trails as long as they are on a leash. Leashed pets can even ride the shuttle bus!
This easy hike include two of natures wonders. From the parking area, follow the well marked trail about a half mile to Devils Postpile. The Postpile is an amazing set of crystallized vertical columns of lava, caused by differing rates of cooling. I truly looks line the devil pushed giant posts up from under the earth!
Continue on the trail about 2 miles, following the well marked signs towards Rainbow Falls, enjoying the lovely San Joaquin river along the way. Rainbow falls is a staggering spectacle, plunging 100 foot over a shear cliff into a lovely horseshoe shaped amphitheater. You can walk along the rocks near enough to feel the mist of the falls.
Return on the same trail, branching tight at about the half mile mark, taking to trail towards Reds Meadow resort where a cool drink and the shuttle bus awaits.
* One of California's most photographed waterfalls can be seen via a mellow 2.5-mile walk from the ranger station at Devils Postpile National Monument. Rainbow Falls, a 101-foot cataract that plummets over a hard layer of rhyodacite in the San Joaquin River, can be seen from two viewing areas about 30 yards apart. A path from the lower viewpoint descends steep granite steps to the base of the falls.
* Hike to Rainbow Falls in the late morning or at midday and you'll get to see its namesake rainbow dancing through the mist. The angle of the midday sun passing through the falling water droplets creates the perfect recipe for a rainbow.
* Many visitors choose to follow a shorter route to Rainbow Falls. From Reds Meadow Resort, the trail to the falls is only one mile one-way.
A trip to Rainbow Falls and Devils Postpile is certainly worth the time on your next Mammoth vacation. Let Mammoth Mountain Vacations help you find the best Mammoth condos on your next outdoor Summer hiking trip in Mammoth Lakes!