Mammoth Lakes, California, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering year-round opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Nestled in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, this charming town is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including towering peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and endless forests. If you’re planning a trip to Mammoth Lakes and have only 72 hours to explore, here’s a guide to help you make the most of your time.
72 Hours in Mammoth Lakes
Day 1: Hiking, Biking, and Exploring the Lakes
Start your day early with a hike or mountain bike ride to get your blood flowing and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The Mammoth Lakes Basin is home to several hiking trails suitable for all skill levels, from leisurely strolls to challenging treks.
One of the most popular hikes in the area is the Duck Pass Trail, a 6.7-mile trail that takes you through alpine meadows, past several lakes, and up to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the Mammoth Lakes Basin. This hike is moderate to strenuous and can take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours, depending on your pace.
If you prefer to explore on two wheels, head to the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, which offers over 80 miles of singletrack trails for all levels of riders. The park is open from mid-June to early October, and lift tickets can be purchased for access to the chairlifts, which will take you and your bike up the mountain for some epic downhill runs.
After your morning adventure, take a break and head to one of the many lakes in the area for a picnic lunch and some relaxation. Lake Mary, Lake George, and Horseshoe Lake are all great options, with picnic tables, grills, and restrooms available for use.
In the afternoon, explore the town of Mammoth Lakes and its many shops, galleries, and restaurants. The Mammoth Lakes Arts Center is a great place to stop and admire local art and take in a show or concert. For dinner, head to The Mogul Restaurant for some delicious American cuisine, or The Stove for a hearty breakfast any time of the day.
Day 2: Fishing, Hot Springs, and Scenic Drives
Mammoth Lakes is a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts, with several lakes and streams teeming with trout and other fish. Spend your morning fishing at one of the many locations, such as the Upper Owens River, Hot Creek, or Convict Lake. If you’re a beginner, consider booking a guided fishing trip to improve your chances of catching something.
After your fishing excursion, head to the nearby Hot Creek Geothermal Area for a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs. These hot springs are located right next to Hot Creek, a beautiful stream that flows through a deep canyon. The water is warm and inviting, and the views are spectacular.
In the afternoon, take a scenic drive along the June Lake Loop, a 16-mile drive that takes you past several lakes and stunning vistas. The loop starts and ends in the town of June Lake and takes about an hour to complete. Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the views, go for a short hike, or have a picnic.
For dinner, head to Roberto’s Cafe for some delicious Mexican cuisine or The Mogul for some classic American fare.
Day 3: Skiing, Snowboarding, and More
If you’re visiting Mammoth Lakes in the winter, you’re in luck. The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is one of the largest ski resorts in North America, with over 3,500 skiable acres and 28 lifts. Spend your day skiing or snowboarding on the mountain, taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks.
If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other winter activities to enjoy, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or sledding. The Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center offers over 19 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as a tubing hill for some family-friendly fun.
After your morning on the slopes or trails, head to the Mammoth Mountain Inn for a relaxing lunch and some hot cocoa. The inn offers several dining options, including the Mountainside Bar & Grill and the Yodler Restaurant & Bar.
In the afternoon, visit the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center to learn more about the history and ecology of the area. The center offers interactive exhibits, educational programs, and guided tours, as well as a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and local products.
For your last night in Mammoth Lakes, treat yourself to a special dinner at the Lakefront Restaurant. This fine dining establishment is located on the shores of Twin Lakes and offers spectacular views and an extensive menu of seafood, steaks, and other delicious dishes.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, or a history buff, Mammoth Lakes, California, has something to offer everyone. With just 72 hours, you can explore the stunning natural beauty of the area, enjoy some delicious cuisine, and learn about the local culture and history. Plan your trip today and experience all that Mammoth Lakes has to offer.