Devils Postpile National Monument


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.

Google Map Link


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 for cars!


Due note 2: When road is closed for private cars you need to buy tickets and board Shuttle Bus at the Mammoth ski area.


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.

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The visit:


Shuttle Bus Information:

Between 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.

On busy weekends and on holidays, parking lots are crowded, and you may need to find a parking spot.



Devils Postpile:

This unique 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 columns.

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 columns hill.

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 columns.


Rainbow Falls:

Rainbow Falls 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 Waterfall:

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.

A relatively flat hike - except for the steps down to the base of the falls - most visitors find the reward well worth the effort.