David and I visited Devils Postpile National Monument while in the Eastern Sierra area this past fall season. We hiked to the Devils Postpile formation and the 101-ft high Rainbow Falls. It was a nice activity to do while in the Mammoth Lakes area.
Devils Postpile National Monument is located in the Mammoth Lakes area, California. Established in 1911, the National Monument protects the Devils Postpile formation and the Rainbow Falls as well as the surrounding area. It’s managed by the National Park Service. In the summer, there is a mandatory shuttle bus system so you can’t drive into the park. The shuttle was not in operation when we visited the park in the fall so we were able to drive to the Ranger Station Trailhead.
Because this was our first time in the Mammoth Lakes area, we stopped by a visitor center in town to get information about the area and paper maps. The staff at the visitor center was helpful.
As usual, we didn’t get an early start on the day to have spare time to explore the town of Mammoth Lakes. We headed into the National Monument from the visitor center. We stopped at Minaret Vista while waiting for the park to clear a broken down vehicle on a one-lane section of the road. The view at the Vista was breath-taking.
Devils Postpile National Monument is actually covering a small narrow rectangle in the map below. It’s surrounded by Info National Forest. Download this map from the National Monument website here.
We started our hike as soon as we arrived at the trailhead at Ranger Station. After less than a mile, we were at the Postpile. We turned left to hike up to the top of the Postpile. At the top you stand on the cross-section of the Postpile resembling a tiled floor. The hike up to the top wasn’t far but the high elevation of the place made it seemed harder than normal. We then continued on the main trail to Rainbow Falls.
The trail from the Postpile to Rainbow Falls was down-hill with gradual slope. Some sections of the trail are soft sand making it a little bit harder despite being a relatively flat trail.
The trail continues to the Lower Falls after arriving at Rainbow Falls, We turned around at Rainbow Falls.
- Date hiked: October 12, 2016
- Hiking time: 2h 24m
- Distance: 5.2 mi round-trip (out and back) including hiking up to the top of Postpile
- Elevation change: Approx. 650 ft gain
Note: This hike starts from the Ranger Station Trailhead (Shuttle Stop No. 6). It passes the Postpile and continues on to Rainbow Falls. During high season when shuttle bus use is mandatory, the park shuttle can be used creatively to shorten the length of the hike to 3.8 miles by starting from the Ranger Station (No. 6) and returning to Rainbow Falls Trailhead Stop (No. 9).