What? : This National
Monument was set to preserves two geological marvels: the Devils Postpile rock formation
and the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls. The Postpile rock formation is ranks as
one of the world's finest examples of columnar basalt. Its' columns tower up to
60 feet exposed columns.
Where? : Located west
of Mammoth Lakes town, Take 203 road to the mountain pass the Mammoth Mountain
Ski Area and drive down to the valley on the other side.
When? : Devils
Postpile is typically open between mid-June and mid-October. Road is closed
during winter. During the summer, afternoon thunderstorms are common.
Due note 1: Between
mid-June and mid-September a mandatory shuttle bus. The main road gate is close
Due note 2: When road is
closed for private cars you need to buy tickets and board Shuttle Bus at the Mammoth
Due note 3: Come early to beat
the crowd !
Due note 4: This is very
popular park, and it can be crowded during summertime and holidays.
My thoughts: I did not want
to take shuttle bus and I do not know how it is. I hiked into the park from Horseshoe
Lake Trailhead, this add 9.2-mile hike with a lot of climbing on the way back
up. The park experience itself is worth the hassle, amazing basalt rock
formation and the waterfalls are impressive. Do not expect to be alone, at mid-day
you will meet many people at the hikes and at the waterfalls.
mid-June and mid-September, a mandatory shuttle bus brings visitors to the park
all the way to Rainbow Falls Trailhead.
Tickets for the
Shuttle bus can be purchased at the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center. Tickets
are usually purchased at the day of your visit.
weekends and on holidays, parking lots are crowded, and you may need to find a parking
geological structure features thousands of hexagonal basalt columns formed
100,000 years ago when lava flow slowed and then cooled and cracked. As the
molten lava cooled slowly vertical cracks in the rocks formed the multi-sided hexagonal
local glacier movement
that creates the valley exposed the lava hexagonal columns.
You will start
your hike at bus stop number 6, from here this is 1.2-mile hike to the basalt
The main view
is from the lower section of the hike where all the columns are exposed. The
trail also climbs up the small hill and here you can see the top cut of the
is an impressive 101-foot drop and is usually graced with a rainbow, especially
about mid-day. You can go down to the pool below, there are a lot of people
there and it is relatively crowded.
Part of the
National Monument, Rainbow Falls is a two-mile trek downstream from Devils
Postpile. The lower waterfall is further
down the trail (an extra 1.6 miles round trip), it is less impressive but there
are far fewer people.
Hike to Rainbow and Lower
If you are
starting your hike from Rainbow Waterfall trailhead (shuttle stop 9) this is
1.25 mile to the Rainbow waterfall overlook.
This is easy
hike, mainly expose to sun so it can be hot during summer day.
If you are
walking from Devils Postpile rock this is 1.9-mile hike to Rainbow waterfall,
additional 0.7-mile will take you to Lower Falls, overall, from Devils Postpile
to lower falls and back this is additional of 5.5 miles hike.
flat hike - except for the steps down to the base of the falls - most visitors
find the reward well worth the effort.