Friday, August 14, 2015

Beautiful Mammoth Mountain Area

It has been about ten years since I have been to the Mammoth Mountain lakes area in the eastern Sierra of CA.  It is a beautiful area with lots to see and do winter or summer.

Mammoth was always a great fishing area.  When I was much younger I used to come up here to the great small World famous trout streams.  And then there is winter sports.  Mammoth mountain gets lots of snow and this place is packed in the winter.  But ten years ago when I last came up to go fishing there were few people here in the summer.  Not any more!  When we visited last week this place was packed.  The difference is summer mountain biking.  Everywhere people dressed up in expensive bike outfits are riding very expensive mountain bikes.  So this means if you decide to come up for a visit in the summer, make reservations.

We stayed at Mammoth Mountain RV park.  (click link left to go to the RV park web site) It looks like it was built and is run by the National Park Service.  It is not.  I really like this RV park a lot except for the very thick dirt / dust that covers many of the sites.  You and your pets and especially children will track in lots of fine dust.  But the spaces are mostly very large, and the utilities work well.   It is set in a forest of large trees.  The people here were quite nice and the location is great.  A few blocks from the center of town.  Or a quick bike ride.

The Devils Postpile is a National Monument and is 13 miles out of Mammoth.  Driving up there and stopping at the sights on the way has always been one of the major things to do when here.  You can still drive up towards the Devils Postpile and stop at the several attractions on the way like a large earthquake fissure and the Minarets but now since there are so many people here in the summer you have to park by the main ski lodge and take a tram/bus to the Postpile.  This is not convenient.  When we were there this parking lot had many hundreds of cars and looked like about a three block walk to wait for the bus.  So we did not go to the Postpile this visit and went to see the Inyo Craters instead.

One of the two Inyo Craters
The visit to see the Inyo craters requires driving on a dirt road for about a mile and then walking uphill a few hundred feet in elevation.  The length of the trail to the craters is about 3/4 of a mile.

When you go to this area just keep in mind that the whole valley is an ancient super volcano crater.  Like Yellowstone, but a bit smaller.  So if it blows when you are here that would not be a good thing.  But I don't think that is expected to happen any time soon.

The summer temps in this area a very agreeable.  Be sure to drive up towards the twin lakes area right out of town.  There is a lovely old Tamarack Lodge area.  It is a beautiful spot.

I have to say that I preferred Mammoth Mountain before the crowds of summer bikers showed up.  But then I am not a crowd loving person.  Today you can have a lot more choices of food and drink than then years ago.  It was nice though the last time we were up we did not bother to make reservations and just showed up.  There were lots of hotel rooms available.  Not any more.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tufa Or Not

Many times I have driven past Mono Lake in the eastern Sierra mountains and looked east going about 60 mph on 395 and said, "some day I have to stop and see the Tufa".  Well earlier this week the time had come.  We stayed 3 nights at the Mono Vista RV Park in Lee Vining CA, right across from the Mono Lake visitor center.

This is what I planned to do.  Take some beautiful pictures of this lake and it's famed Tufa.  Full disclosure here.  This image was not taken by me and I got it off the internet.  I wish I had the opportunity to get this kind of shot.  But sadly climate and wild fires were against me.

Here is about the best I could do.  There was just too little alpenglow to get any kind of shot.

This was just a little peek of glowing night sky that lasted for five minutes and hardly made it to the Tufa at all.  If you look close at the picture of the tufa you can see the tiniest amount of red in the foreground.  And that was it.  I went all three nights over to get great shots and did not have much luck.

But we did go to Bodie and that produced some great pictures for memories.

I do recommend the Mono Vista RV park if you go to stay in Lee Vining.  Nice people.  Sites have grass.  Some trees.  Very clean and neat.  Good utilities.  Price was about $35 with Good Sam.  Click the link above to go to their web site.  This park is very close to the road that goes in the back side of Yosemite.  I had the opportunity to talk to all sorts of people from all over Europe who were staying in this RV park and going over into Yosemite.

So what else is in Lee Vining.  There is the Mono Lake visitor center.  This is a large park building with exhibits, maps, rangers, ranger talks, and so on.  I highly recommend stoping here ever if you are not overnighting in Lee Vining.  It is right off 395 just a block north of town on the east side.

Great views from the visitor center.

The columbine flowers were next to the building and this is one of the most interesting and beautiful flowers I know of.  I like these pictures a lot better than the ones I got of the Tufa.

If you do not feel like spending a lot of time at Mono Lake it is easily accessible from Mammoth Lakes.  However, in my opinion staying at the Mono Vista RV park is better than any I saw at Mammoth Lakes for larger RVs like ours.