As the title states- I can’t ski. In fact, I don’t even really have a desire to learn. The thought of flying down a mountain on two sticks totally freaks me out. That being said, I love California’s ski paradise: Mammoth, CA! Prior to getting invited to a wedding in summer of 2017 I’d never heard of Mammoth but I’ve learned much more after visiting and hearing about what a popular winter training destination it is during the February 2018 Winter Olympics.
To get to Mammoth from CT I opted to fly from Hartford to LAX and then rent a car to take the five hour drive into the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Though this was a long drive I’m glad I did it because it was a great opportunity to see red rocks, deserts and parts of California I’d never seen before!
In between wedding festivities I got a chance to check out three destinations that make Mammoth a great place to see when the snow has melted!
Hot Creek Geological Site
The first place we visited was the local Hot Creek Geological Site. This volcanic basin was formed 700,000 years ago. Water filters down from the mountains through the earth’s crust and becomes super heated to create the steaming creek. The sulfur scented water is beautiful to look at but too hot to touch- the creek is fenced off and swimming is strictly prohibited.
Best part? Parking and visiting is totally free!
Reds Meadow is a gorgeous valley that can be accessed by parking at the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge and taking a shuttle bus 1,400 feet down into the valley. There are lots of things to see in Reds Meadow- the shuttle has ten different stops you can get off at to get to what you want to do. We opted to first get off and see Devils Postpile National Monument.
The impressive rock formation was formed by lava and glacier ice over 100,000 years ago. It was officially protected as a national monument in 1911.
We got back onto the shuttle and road a couple more stops down to Rainbow Falls. We hiked a relatively short, steep trail down to the falls which are aptly named for the rainbow present in the water’s mist.
Bus passes for the Reds Meadow shuttle are available for purchase at the Mammoth Adventure Center and cost $8 for an adult ticket.
Wild Willy’s Hot Springs
Despite the kooky name, Wild Willy’s Hot Springs was my favorite place to visit in the Mammoth area. These are natural hot springs that are completely free to visit and use all year round.
This was my favorite place because I felt so enveloped in nature. The springs are out of view from the parking lot so there aren’t any cars (or really any part of civilization) in sight.
Humans weren’t the only ones enjoying the springs- a herd of cows was grazing nearby.
Have you ever been to Mammoth, California? What’s your favorite part of this mountain paradise?