In this guide:
There’s a reason why visitors love coming over to Mammoth Lakes. Nestled high in the Eastern Sierras of California, this alpine community is a world-class resort town, drawing in thousands of guests each year.
Whatever the season, the views all around Mammoth Lakes are spectacular, allowing for picture-perfect moments with family and friends as you enjoy a memorable weekend of camping, communing with nature and enjoying a bevy of outdoor activities.
During the winter months, Mammoth Lakes shines as a popular skiing destination, with visitors flocking from all over for all kinds of fun wintertime activities, such as snowboarding, skating, sledding, and hitting the slopes.
In the summertime, the cooler temperatures make Mammoth Lakes the perfect spot for a bit of weekend camping. Guests stop by to enjoy some fishing, cross-country biking, hiking, swimming, geocaching, and so much more.
So if you’re planning to head on over to do some camping at Mammoth Lakes, you’ll want to get things organized as there are so many things to do.
You might want to spend a weekend of quality time with the family, or you’ve come by to attend one of Mammoth Lakes’ more popular events or festivals. You might decide to do some athletic training, or use the next few days to enjoy the great outdoors. Or perhaps even just to enjoy some quiet-time to do some soul-searching.
Whether it is camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, Mammoth Lakes is a place for everyone. There is nothing like spending the day outdoors enjoying your favorite activity. Whether you are looking for peace, or for adventure, a trip to Mammoth Lakes would certainly do you a lot of good.
With that in mind, we’ve prepared a handy guide for folks looking to enjoy a weekend or a few nights at Mammoth Lakes.
The Town of Mammoth Lakes
The Town of Mammoth Lakes is a small alpine community located in the Central California Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
Tucked away in the Inyo National Forest within Mono County, the Town of Mammoth Lakes is a relatively young town, having only been incorporated in 1984.
With so much going on at the town of Mammoth Lakes, you’ll be surprised that it’s actually pretty small in terms of land area– just about four square miles, with just a little over 8000 full-time residents (according to 2017 figures).
Aside from a plethora of retail and rental shops, the Town of Mammoth Lakes has more than 70 restaurants, as well as a nationally famous craft brewery.
The base elevation of the Town of Mammoth Lakes is 7,953 feet (2,424m) above sea level. The elevation at the base of Mammoth Mountain near the Main Lodge is around 9,000 feet (2,745m).
Mammoth Lakes sees an average of 300 sunny days and about 385 inches of snowfall annually.
The topmost point of Mammoth Mountain is 11,053 feet (3,369m). Visitors may experience some minor side effects due to Mammoth’s high elevation.
In and Around Mammoth Lakes
Many of the trails, campgrounds and roads of Mammoth Lakes either abut or cross the crest of the Sierra mountains. Here are a few other nearby places of interest within the general vicinity of Mammoth Lakes:
June Lake Loop
Located just a little bit northwest from Mammoth Lakes, June Lake Loop is truly a jewel of the Sierras. The Eastern Sierra’s original resort community has a lovely small town with much to offer– hiking trails, skiing, RV parks, restaurants, and more.
The area has four beautiful lakes where you can enjoy quiet star-filled nights. The lakes and streams of this scenic loop have been a playground for anglers, hunters, and outdoor adventurers since the late 19th century.
To the southeast of Mammoth Lakes is the City of Bishop, the largest populated place in Inyo County. Bishop is a unique area offering low elevation river fishing in the beautiful Owen’s River and high elevation hiking and camping with the upper lakes near the John Muir Trail.
The elevation in the area of Bishop ranges from 4,500 to 8,000 feet (1372 to 2440 meters)– a little bit lower than that of Mammoth Lakes.
Bishop is home to the famous Mule Days celebration that happens annually (every Memorial Day) for nearly 50 years! Explore the rock climbing areas near Pleasant Valley or even get a round of golf in at the Bishop Country Club.
Mono Lake is an ancient lake covering an area of around 65 square miles, with a rich ecosystem to explore. A quick 30-minute drive from Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake is two-and-a-half times saltier than the ocean.
Surprisingly, however, Mono Lake is teeming with life, and supports a unique biosphere of brine shrimp and alkali flies which in turn, feed millions of migratory and nesting birds.
Visitors kayaking in Mono Lake are likely to see the popular tufa towers– carbonate limestone formations that stretch over nine meters tall. The calcium-rich underwater springs mix with lake water to produce what you see now as the tufa towers. Over time, they grow (exclusively underwater) and are exposed only as water levels fall.
The Mono Lake Committee offers canoe and kayak naturalist tours on weekends into early September.
Further up north from Mammoth Lakes towards Mono Lake is Lee Vining. Considered the eastern gateway to the Yosemite Valley, Lee Vining campgrounds are a great place to set up camp and take day trips into Yosemite, Mammoth, June Lake, or even visit the historic Bodie Ghost Town.
Crestview And Deadman Area
Crestview and Deadman are still on the fairly high side in terms of elevation (7,000 to 8,500 feet or 2135 to 2592 meters), so it’s still an excellent option for those looking to go camping.
It’s an area located between June Lake and Mammoth Lakes, which is a little rockier and dryer in climate. You don’t have large lakes or bodies of water but still offer some great “water” features including Deadman Creek and parts of the Owens River.
It is, interestingly, popular among geology enthusiasts as you can go hiking around obsidian fields from old lava flows and go hunting for mineral samples. The better campsites are hidden away in the pine trees, offering a great vacation spot.
What To Do at Mammoth Lakes
As a premier resort town, Mammoth Lakes prides itself on co-existing with one of the world’s greatest natural environments, with lots to offer for hardcore adventurers and casual outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.
With a wide variety of activities for families and adrenaline junkies alike, Mammoth Mountain has a little bit of something for everyone.
Popular activities in the summertime:
- Boating, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding
- Climbing and Mountaineering
- RV Camping
Popular activities during the winter season:
- Climbing and Mountaineering
- Cross Country and Nordic Skiing
- Ice Skating, Tubing, and Sledding
- RV Camping
- Skiing and Snowboarding
- Snowcat Tours
Activities in the Summer
The Mammoth Lakes Basin is full of places to find a quiet hike, catch a trophy trout or take a gentle bike ride with your family on the paved paths.
World-renowned for its hiking, fishing and horseback riding, Mammoth Lakes is also home to Outside Magazine’s top-ranked mountain bike park in the USA.
Boating, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding
Want to actually get in the water and enjoy some water sports? Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding are some fun things that the lakes can offer to your adventuring spirit. You can bring your own equipment, or rent it from one of the local outfitters.
Climbing and Mountaineering
In the summer, the Mammoth Lakes area has lots to offer in terms of mountaineering and rock climbing. You can even hire a local guide to learn the ropes, or take classes from the Sierra Mountain Center to get you better acquainted with the sport.
Fishing is a very popular activity for campers visiting the Mammoth Lakes area. Some of the great fishing spots can be found at Crowley Lake, Arrowhead and Emerald Lakes, as well as Sherwin and Valentine Lakes. These lakes are stocked with fish and ready for you to cast your line in and take home a great fish tale!
Are you into Geocaching? If you are, then you are in luck! There are many Geocaching sites along Mammoth Lakes. Geocaching while Mammoth Lakes Camping, allows visitors to discover the beauty of Mammoth Lakes in a new way.
Caches are located at points of historic interest, close to hiking and biking trails, and anywhere you dare to look. Come with a group of friends and enjoy a vacation dedicated to your hobby!
There are two golf courses in Mammoth Lakes: the Sierra Star Golf Course and the Snowcreek Golf Course.
Designed by Cal Olsen and built in 1999, Sierra Star is the highest-elevation 18-hole championship golf course in California. Sierra Star is a challenging par 70.
Snowcreek Golf Course, on the other hand, is set in the scenic sagebrush meadow at the base of the Sherwins Range. Snowcreek is a challenging 9-hole, par-35 course.
Day hikes, or multiple day hikes, are a very popular activity in the Mammoth Lake area. You can hike on Mammoth Mountain or on one of the many shuttle-friendly trailheads in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.
There are plenty of short, easy and family-friendly hikes. In the summer, you’ll never tire of finding secret alpine lakes, lush aspen-lined streams and forested hideaways tucked away in the mountains. For more ambitious hikers and backpackers, check out trails from Mammoth Lakes link to the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail.
RV camping in Mammoth Lakes is a great way to enjoy nature with some of the comforts of home with you.
A lot of campsites in Mammoth Lakes have full RV hook-ups, as well as facilities such as indoor heated pool, indoor spa, showers, laundry room, clubhouse, children’s play area, picnic tables, dump stations, and Wi-Fi hotspots.
You also have spots where you can quickly pick up ice, propane, and other RV supplies.
Mammoth Lakes is situated at the edge of one of the earth’s largest volcanic calderas, and has lots to offer for photographers, earth science enthusiasts, and just about anyone who appreciates the great outdoors.
Just about any activity at Mammoth Lakes has a spectacular backdrop of mountain peaks, forests, and pristine bodies of water. Just a quick drive away are natural wonders such as Yosemite National Park, Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls National Monument, Mono Lake, Bodie State Historic Park, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Mt. Whitney, and the Mammoth Lakes Basin.
Plan your day so you can end your leisurely hike across the countryside with a refreshing swim! Top picks are Horseshoe Lake, McLeod Lake, Crystal Lake, or the upper Mammoth Lakes Basin. You can even join triathletes-in-training at June Lake beach. Only Whitmore Pool is staffed with professional lifeguards.
Another welcome way to relax and unwind: find a geothermally heated hot spring for a rejuvenating, warm soak!
(Read More: “Things To Do In The Summer In Mammoth Lakes”)
Activities in Winter
During the winter, come enjoy a weekend of skiing on the snow-covered mountains. Mammoth is known as one of the world’s best resorts for spring skiing; by late April, the ski area is less expensive, less crowded and provides the perfect weather for a fun ski trip with your family.
Climbing and Mountaineering
In the winter, Mammoth Lakes has some of the most accessible backcountry for ice climbing. While the area has a good variety of climbs suitable for all skill levels, you should always consider enlisting the services of local guides– even if you are an experienced climber.
Cross Country and Nordic Skiing
Bust out your skis and feel the crisp mountain air in your lungs as you glide cross-country across the winter wonderland surrounding the town of Mammoth Lakes.
Take the cross country track that winds throughout Mammoth Lakes and into the expanse of Inyo National Forest for an awesome skiing adventure!
Ice Skating, Tubing, and Sledding
Mammoth Lakes has a lot of open ground for wintertime snow play for the whole family– so go pack your skates and your sled with you for your next visit.
Top choices include the Mammoth Ice Rink (which offers ice skating classes for all levels, as well as skate rentals) and Woolly’s Tube Park & Snow Play (for a quick zip down the hill without worrying about the walk back to the top).
While many people might be intimidated by the prospect of roughing it out during wintertime, for some, cold-weather camping is much better than doing so any other time of the year.
For starters, you have the campgrounds pretty much all to yourself. Many RV parks offer sizable discounts during the winter. You also have lots of fun winter activities and events happening during the holidays. And probably most importantly, you get a lot less bugs as most pests associated with camping in the spring, summer, or fall are hiding away waiting for warmer weather.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Another popular activity around wintertime is snowboarding, and Mammoth Lakes has some great spots whether you’re a beginner and just starting out in the sport, or a more seasoned snowboarder out to conquer some of the more challenging trails nearby.
Mammoth Lakes has one of the longest ski seasons in North America. The slopes typically open in November and remain so until July or August.
While Mammoth Mountain might be the official training mountain of the U.S. Olympic Team, 40% of the runs are designated for intermediate boarders and skiers and 25% are deemed suitable for beginners.
For a more relaxed, more comfortable tour of the Eastern Sierras, take a ride in one of Mammoth Mountain’s very own snowcats. Each snowcat holds up to 12 people, which makes it great for smaller, intimate groups.
You can then explore the surrounding snow-draped countryside in luxury and heated comfort. There are two kinds of tours: the Midday Tour and the Après Ski Tour, both of which take you to Minaret Vista, where you can get the most spectacular views of Mammoth Lakes’ signature skyline.
Mammoth Lakes has trails groomed and maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, and if that isn’t enough for you, you’ve got 150,000 acres of public land on the Inyo National Forest that are open to snowmobiles.
Whether you’re bringing your own snowmobile or renting one for the day, be sure to stop by the Welcome Center for more information, weather advisories, and other important safety updates.
There is free public access to more than 140 miles (225 km) of track for snowshoeing that winds throughout Mammoth Lakes and into the expanse of the Inyo National Forest.
There are also groomed trails that are accessible behind the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center and Shady Rest Park. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll be sharing these trails with skiers, so keep away from the designated tracks as a courtesy (and for safety).
Activities in the Spring
Even though Mammoth Lakes is famous for its snowy mountains and skiing, when the snow melts and the flowers bloom is when the fun under the sun begins.
You actually get to enjoy the best of both worlds– winter and summer– during the springtime at Mammoth Lakes. You can hit the slopes in the morning, then go out for some fishing or kayaking with your family or friends in the afternoon.
Other popular springtime activities include hiking and snowshoeing, some skiing and snowboarding, kayaking and stand-up-paddleboarding, cross-country biking, and sightseeing.
Activities in the Fall
With the autumn season comes the best scenery and pleasant temperatures. Some would actually argue that fall might actually be the perfect time to head on over to Mammoth Lakes.
You can enjoy all the usual fun summer activities with the benefit of having cooler weather. You also have the option to just sit out in the sun and enjoy the serene and breathtaking surroundings
RV camping in Mammoth Lakes
How to Book a Campsite in Mammoth Lakes
There are many campgrounds in the Mammoth Lake area. Some are near trailheads, some are by the lakes or along the rivers and some are nestled in the mountains.
The main camping areas include the Mammoth Lakes Basin and Reds Meadow Valley. But there are also lots of options north in the June Lake Loop or Lee Vining Canyon, or south at Convict Lake, McGee Creek, and Rock Creek Canyon.
RV Campgrounds in Mammoth Lakes
There is nothing quite like spending time away from home at one of the beautiful campsites Mammoth Lakes has to offer.
Whether you seek the solitude of a backcountry camping site or a convenient place for you and your family to park your RV, there are plenty of places at Mammoth Lake for camping.
You will enjoy Mammoth Lakes’ natural beauty and its breathtaking sites when you camp there. Hike the tall mountains and trails, swim in the clear water, or simply enjoy the stars at night, camping at Mammoth lake will be the perfect experience for you and your family.
Camp High Sierra
Phone Number: 760-934-2368
Camp High Sierra has been providing Family Camping since 1921. Located in the heart of Mammoth Lakes, this unique campground offers tent camping sites, trailer/RV sites with hookups, rustic bunk style cabins, and FREE HOT SHOWERS for all registered guests.
Reservable Spaces: 37
Walk-Up Spaces: 37
Phone Number: 877-444-6777
Coldwater Campground is located high in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains near the town of Mammoth Lakes, California. The surrounding national forest provides many opportunities for family fun, outdoor recreation and relaxation. Hiking, fishing, road cycling and picnicking are just some of the favorite activities available to campers.
Reservable Spaces: 74
Walk-Up Spaces: 74
Phone Number: 760-924-5500
Lake George Campground is a dry camping ground that does not take reservations. It is considered an active bear area and no swimming is allowed. The campground offers bear boxes, flush toilets and potable water.
Reservable Spaces: 0
Walk-Up Spaces: 15
Lake Mary Campground
Phone Number: 877-444-6777
Lake Mary is the star of the Mammoth Lakes region. Of the 11 lakes in the area, Mary is the largest and most developed. Lake Mary Campground is a large facility with plenty of amenities in and around it. The lake provides a great base for activities like fishing, viewing waterfalls, hiking and backpacking.
Reservable Spaces: 48
Walk-Up Spaces: 48
Mammoth Mountain RV
Phone Number: 800-582-4603
Mammoth Mountain RV Park offers full and partial hook-up sites, tent camping and cabins in the beautiful alpine town of Mammoth Lakes, CA. Our campground is located at the entrance of town, across from the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center and Ranger Station on Highway CA-203 (Main St).
Reservable Spaces: 154
Walk-Up Spaces: 154
New Shady Rest Campground
Phone Number: 877-444-6777
New Shady Rest Campground is a large facility convenient to numerous outdoor activities and attractions in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The campground is popular for hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing and hitting the adjacent town of Mammoth Lakes for shopping and dining. The facility accommodates both tents and RVs.
Reservable Spaces: 93
Walk-Up Spaces: 93
Old Shady Rest Campground
Phone Number: 877-444-6777
Old Shady Rest Campground is a large facility convenient to numerous outdoor activities and attractions in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, and within walking distance of the full-service community of Mammoth Lakes. The campground is popular for hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing and hitting the town for shopping and dining. The facility best accommodates tents and small to medium-sized RVs.
Reservable Spaces: 45
Walk-Up Spaces: 45
Pine Glen Group
Phone Number: 877-444-6777
Pine Glen is a group camping facility located in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, within walking distance of the full-service community of Mammoth Lakes, California.
Popular for large families and other groups of up to 15 or 30 people, the campground has access to a variety of activities, from fishing and mountain biking to hiking and photography, near some of the most spectacular scenery in the Sierras.
Reservable Spaces: 18
Walk-Up Spaces: 18
Sherwin Creek Campground
Phone Number: 877-444-6777
Sherwin Creek Campground is located in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains within 2 miles of the full-service community of Mammoth Lakes, California. Popular among anglers, hikers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts and photographers, the campground is near some of the most spectacular wilderness and outdoor recreation areas in the Sierras.
Reservable Spaces: 85
Walk-Up Spaces: 85
Twin Lakes Campground
Phone Number: 877-444-6777
Twin Lakes Campground is located in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains near the town of Mammoth Lakes, California. It offers lakeside camping with breathtaking scenery and many outdoor activities.
The lake is a great base for fishing, boating, viewing waterfalls and hiking, and offers close proximity to the town’s amenities. Please note we do not park in spaces 56, 60, 61, and 62.
Reservable Spaces: 94
Walk-Up Spaces: 94
Adventure in Camping
If you want all the creature comforts of home with the feel of the outdoors, Adventure in Camping is just what you need.
Adventure in Camping makes your vacation fun and easy: all you have to do is pick the campsite and we will bring the trailer to you and completely set it up for you. This way, you can enjoy your Mammoth Lakes camping vacation without the hassles of setting up and taking down your campsite!
Quite simply: we offer a unique and easy way to enjoy your next camping trip out in Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding areas.
How Does Adventure in Camping Work?
First off, go right ahead and pick a campsite around the area of Mammoth Lakes. There are plenty of campsites to choose from if you want to be close to town, and even some if you want to be a little more adventurous and be out in the wild.
Depending on what activities you are wanting to do while camping, picking your campsite can help bring you closer access to those adventures.
Next, select a suitable camping vehicle from our premier selection of RV’s, depending on your number of guests and vacation requirements. We’ve got trailers of all kinds. After a day of having fun in the sun or snow, it’s nice to come back to your campsite to just relax.
We then park the RV for you at your desired Mammoth Lakes camping location. It comes pre-packed with the basics, so all you have to do is bring yourselves and your camping gear and enjoy your camping weekend!
We show you how everything works. All of our trailers are fully equipped with the comforts of home. You’ll have your own bathroom, and depending on the model trailer you select– you’ll even have air-conditioning and other small appliances (such as a microwave oven, etc.)
When it’s time to pack up, we pick up the trailer for you. That’s it– one less thing to worry about when you wrap up your vacation at Mammoth Lakes!
What’s Included in an RV Rental?
All of Adventure in Camping’s trailer rentals are delivered to you with a basic set of pots and pans, cooking utensils, dishes (plate, bowl, coffee cup, drinking cup), silverware, plastic cutting sheet, assorted serving bowls, 1 roll of paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap and sponge, and hand soap.
All their trailers are self-contained and have a flush toilet, shower, refrigerator, stove/oven, sink (bathroom and kitchen area) and awning.
How Large are Your RVs?
Pick from a large selection of trailers available. We have trailers that fit three and trailers that can fit up to nine guests.
Our trailers offer different types of amenities such as air conditioner, microwave, television, etc. Get ready to have a great time camping at Mammoth Lakes with your friends or family!
Visiting Mammoth Lakes
You can fly non-stop from Los Angeles (LAX) to Mammoth Lakes (MMH) year-round, and seasonally from Denver (DEN), San Francisco (SFO), Burbank (BUR) and Orange County (SNA).
Mammoth Yosemite Airport is located just a 10-minute drive from the center of town. Taxis and shuttles make it easy for visitors to travel within Mammoth Lakes.
For those driving to town, it’s usually a five-hour road trip to the town of Mammoth Lakes from either San Francisco, Los Angeles or Las Vegas. However, in the summertime, the drive from San Francisco is considerably shorter when Highway 120 reopens.
When is the best time to visit Mammoth Lakes?
Mammoth Lakes might be renowned as a major skiing destination, but it has a lot of other outdoor activities to offer all year-round: world-class fishing, a top-notch bike park for all ages and skill levels, RV camping, and so much more.
So when is the best time to come visit Mammoth Lakes?
The quick answer is: it’s likely best to visit Mammoth Lakes in the Fall, as there are fewer visitors, and flights are cheaper than usual. The months of September, October, and November are considered an off-season for Mammoth Lakes.
However, it all really depends on what it is exactly you’re looking for in terms of activities in and around Mammoth Lakes.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central California, Mammoth Lakes attract at least 1.5 million visitors each year, while winter months see just a bit less than that (upwards of 1.3 million visitors)– making those Mammoth Lakes’ two busiest seasons.
If you’re not so hot about the peak-season crowds, the worst time to visit Mammoth Lakes is in either summer or winter, especially on long holiday weekends. Even on regular weekends, it is not uncommon to see cars congesting many of the roads in and around town or visitors testing the limits of various facilities and amenities.
What’s there to do around town?
Sure, there’s lots to do out in the great outdoors at Mammoth Lakes, but remember you’re not too far away from the conveniences of modern-day living.
The town not only boasts jaw-dropping natural beauty, but also an interesting spectrum of commercial establishments. This includes lodging options, unique shopping, fitness facilities, restaurants, spas and salons, pubs and wine bars, coffee shops, and even a full-service hospital.
Mammoth Lakes has an interesting selection of rental and retail stores, local boutiques, as well as outlet shops and premium brands. The Village at Mammoth is a hub for folks looking to check out the local shopping scene, with fine establishments for outdoor recreation gear, locally-made goods, and souvenirs to take back home.
Take a break from campground food and enjoy a night out on the town with all sorts of dining options from Mammoth Lakes restaurants and enjoy some memorable meals during your vacation.
Head on over to Old Mammoth Restaurant Row, The Village, or Main Street for choice dining options.
Not only do you have restaurants showcasing all kinds of cuisine– American, Asian Fusion, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, and more– you also have other establishments worth checking out.
Late-night bars and tasting rooms, burger and sandwich joints, cafes and coffee shops, ice cream and dessert shops– you’ll find no shortage of food options in and around the town of Mammoth Lakes.
There’s always something going on at Mammoth Lakes. Events abound all year-round! From holiday activities to slopeside sporting events, to fishing derbies, endurance challenges, and even a regular lineup of concerts and festivals of all kinds– you can plan your camping trip around one the town’s signature annual events for added fun!
A Final Word About Mammoth Lakes
If you are looking for a place for your family to go camping and have fun, then Mammoth Lakes is the place for you! With an abundance of outdoor recreation options for any season, a town center for modern-day comforts, and a variety of campgrounds, you have all the elements you need to design the perfect vacation for you and your family.
While Mammoth Lakes is a destination ski resort and camping mecca, don’t forget that the town also has big annual sporting and cultural events, as well as concerts, festivals, and other holiday festivities.
Of course, you may choose to go during the off-season. In which case, you can still enjoy everything Mammoth Lakes has to offer without having to deal with the big summer or winter crowds.