Mammoth Lakes - Chasing Fall Colors

Updated: Nov 5, 2018

A long weekend trip, hitting some of the best places for fall colors!

Mammoth Lakes, California is an amazing place to be to experience the fall colors. Our trip was planned for October 6-9th. Be sure when you're planning a trip to Mammoth you do a little bit of research on the things you want to see and do because they start closing some of the roads in preparation for winter.


Yosemite National Park

Traveling from Sacramento, we decided to pass through Yosemite National Park to get to Mammoth Lakes. The first spot we hit was the valley floor to let the dogs stretch their legs.

There are plenty of hikes to do around the valley floor but since we were on a bit of a time crunch to find our first camping spot outside of the park, we just did a little sight seeing. Also, dogs are not able to hike the trails of National Parks. National Forests are fair game for your furry friends! This being my second time in Yosemite, the mountains were just as breathtaking as they were the first time. Gorgeous from every angle as they tower over you. The valley floor was packed, cars parked everywhere with people snapping pictures on the side of the road. I strongly suggest getting out and walking around, you never know what great little spots you will find!

Taking a drive up to Glacier Point was a must. I don't remember the line to park being as long as it was this time, but since it's such a popular spot I shouldn't have been surprised.

The dark clouds were rolling in, rain was in the forecast. We knew we had to get rolling on the road soon! Setting up camp in the freezing rain was not what we had in mind!


Tuolumne Meadows

On our way through Yosemite, we had also come across an area where the Ferguson Fire had hit. The fire was started on July 13, 2018 and had burned until it was 100% contained on August 19, 2018. There was one area we drove through were the ground was still smoldering, which was a very eerie and unsettling feeling. The strong smell of fire still lingered in the air as we got out to take pictures of the damage.


Passing through Tuolumne Meadows, there were some awesome spots with some spectacular views.

We weren't expecting to see snow on the ground here, but its a for sure sign winter is coming. This lake was perfect, there was one other couple enjoying the view as we did, taking pictures and appreciating this spectacular sight.


As soon as we exited the park, our eyes were on the prowl for a campsite. In the Tioga Pass area, we settled for the night in the Aspen Campground. Bear boxes, a fire pit and a picnic table were just what we needed to set up camp. This was the dogs first night camping in the car and not in our tent. They were confused at first but settled in nicely under the blankets with the heat cranked.

The views were gorgeous as we were nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains. The campsite was convenient, but the sites are very close together and for $14 a night, I knew we could find something better along our trip!


Bodie State Park


Bodie is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. A mine cave-in revealed pay dirt in 1875, exploding the town from a few dozen to a booming town. Much of Bodie still remains today in a state of "arrested decay". It's as if everyone just got up and walked away, many things are left as they were which adds to the creepiness of this place. You could literally spend hours walking around the town, investigating all of the small buildings, peeking in the windows. For $2 you can purchase a self-guided tour booklet. Each building is numbered, corresponding with a photo and description in the booklet. This place was definitely worth the drive. Scroll through the photos below!



June Lake Loop

After seeing several photos of this area during the fall, the June Lake Loop is what inspired this trip. Several yellow-leaved birch trees lined the roads, picturesque mountains and serene lakes were nothing short of amazing.




After another day of adventures, we found a new campsite. Glass Creek Campground is a free one that has bear boxes, picnic tables, and fire pits. We were super impressed by this campground as it was spacious, clean, and surrounded by tall trees.


Toby didn't like the cold, even with his fancy new sweater on! He stayed cuddled up in the back of the car. Aubrey loved toasting her back by the fire, sitting on Derrick's lap as if she were a child!


We primarily lived off of Mountain House meals because they are easy to make, tasty and almost no clean up involved. As for the instant coffee for breakfast, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It fit easily in our bear canister that we packed in the event we couldn't find campsites with bear boxes, but was not worth it.


Rainbow Falls and Devils Postpile

Not knowing this was the last day to view and hike around the Devils Postpile monument, we were stoked when we pulled up to the window and the sign said they would be closing the road the following day. This was the one hike we were determined to do! The whole hike is around 4 miles if you go to Rainbow Falls and back. We decided to proceed to the lower falls, which was worth the extra leg work. There is an opportunity to view Rainbow Falls from the bottom, if you go past the second viewpoint and continue on the path forward until you reach the stairs that take you down. Our whole hike was a total of 7.7 miles.


Convict Lake

Last but not least, I had to see this lake. Although the colors weren't as bold around this lake, the water was crystal clear. There were several boats out fishing, but the area around the lake was quiet.



Thanks for reading, I hope this inspires you to plan your own trip to Mammoth Lakes, CA. There are several things to do throughout the entire year, a little something for everyone! This post has not been sponsored by any of the brands mentioned, these are products that we have tried and enjoy! If you want to check out a map of the places I've mentioned you can find it here.


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Shop the goods we used on our trip here! I do receive a small commission through these links. I only list the things that we have tested and absolutely love!






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© 2018 by Jamie Sielski