Devils Postpile National Monument Travel Guide

  • Devils Postpile National Monument
    Devils Postpile National Monument
    by goingsolo
  • Devils Postpile National Monument
    by Hopkid
  • Devils Postpile National Monument
    by Hopkid

Devils Postpile National Monument Highlights

  • Pro
    goingsolo profile photo

    goingsolo says…

     An unusual monument surrounded by great scenery 

  • Con
    Hopkid profile photo

    Hopkid says…

     Not accessible during winter 

  • In a nutshell
    mikelisaanna profile photo

    mikelisaanna says…

     A nice side trip from Mammoth 

Devils Postpile National Monument Things to Do

  • Hiking from the Postpile to Rainbow...

    I think it's a fairly common hike to do from the Postpile to the Falls, especially for those of us who hate waiting around for a bus. The hike itself is about 2.5 miles, then you'll need to tack on just under another mile and a half to get back to the bus stop at Reds Meadow. I do recommend the hike in the direction from the Postpile to the Falls,...

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  • Rainbow Falls

    So named for the rainbow given off as the water cascades over the dropoff. Unfortunately, you have to get there before shadows start to cast over the river, or you'll miss out. We got there to see a small tail of the rainbow. The waterfall is pretty impressive - over 100 feet tall and fed by the San Joaquin River, it gives off a nice little...

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  • See the Postpile

    The two most popular things to see in the Monument are Rainbow Falls and the Postpile. These actually were the only two requested stops out of 10 possible stops for our nearly full shuttle bus. Once you get off at the correct shuttle stop, you can collect a map and newspaper at the ranger station, and then set off for a very short hike to the...

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  • Other hikes

    The real draw of this area is the hike to Rainbow Falls. This is a 5 mile hike to what are supposed to be the best falls in the area. I've seen pictures of these falls, which drop about a hundred feet and reflect a rainbow like prism which appears in the mist of the falls, hence the name, and I agree. Unfortunately, I didn't make it out there, as...

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  • The monument

    From the bus stop, it is less than a mile along a relatively flat trail to the base of the monument. There are a few steps along the way, especially towards the end, making it difficult for those with physical limitations and not accessible for the disabled. At the base, you can see the long cylindrical columns that, well, make this a monument....

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  • Devil's Postpile

    Take the shuttle bus to Stop No. 6 and walk approximately 1/2-mile to reach the base of this very unique geologic formation, considered one of the best examples of columnar basalt lava in the entire world. The main sight is a view of the 60-foot vertical columns and the pile of rocks beneath it. Be sure to take the trail to the top of the Postpile...

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  • Rainbow Falls

    Named because of the rainbow that is consistently formed from the spray of the falls, this waterfall on the San Joaquin River plunges 101 feet over a lava-formed ledge. From the overlook the rainbow is best viewed from midday on. The photo attached to this tip was taken at 4:30pm. You can also hike down a series of steps to the river and the base...

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  • Enjoy the hike to the Devil's Postpile

    After you get off the bus from Mammoth Mountain, you must hike about 1/2 mile from the ranger station/vistor center to the Devil's Postpile. It is an easy and pleasant hike through a pretty valley.

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  • Enjoy the views on the bus ride

    While it is somewhat of a hassle to have to take a bus from the Mammoth Mountain ski area to reach the Devil's Postpile National Monument, the views from the bus ride along the way are great. You get unobstructed views of the peaks of the Sierra Mountains. Bring your camera and be ready to take pictures!

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  • The Devil's Postpile

    The Devil's Postpile is an unusual rock formation consisting on hexagonal columns of basalt that were formed in an ancient volcanic eruption and then exposed through erosion. It forms the centerpiece of the Devil's Postpile National Monument.

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  • San Joaquin River

    The San Joaquin River runs through the middle of the park. It offers great trout fishing, and is just beautiful to look at.

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  • Hike to Sotcher Lake

    One of the hiking trails is about 8 miles long, and will take you around Sotcher Lake, through meadows and the past the Postpile. Its an easy hike, but long. Pack a lunch and lots of water, and make a day of it. There are many beautiful places to stop and rest.

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  • Rainbow Falls

    There are many trails to hike at the Postpile. One in particular will take you to this spectacular view of Rainbow Falls, a 101' drop in the San Joaquin River.

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  • Lots of Birds

    As we were feeding the Belding Ground Squirrels (which we weren't supposed to), several of these Stellar's Jays came along and kept stealing the peanuts from the squirrels. They were very bold, too, and weren't scared off easily - cheeky!

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  • Keep your camera close by!

    You just never know what's going to walk through your campsite! One day, as I was cooking my freshly caught trout, Bambi wandered very close to my site. I quickly turned off the campstove, removed the pan, burned my hand and grabbed my camera. She got within 100' of me, and we just eyed each other for a while, before she calmly walked off into the...

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  • The postpile

    These erect columns of basalt lava are the main attraction of Devil's Postpile National Monument. At about 60 feet high, these columns look like huge pipes of a church organ. It started about 100,000 years ago, when a volcano erupted and lava flowed to this area filling the valley. The cooling of the lava caused it to crack, Then glaciers scraped...

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  • Ranger Talk

    Join the ranger talk. First you walk with the rangers to the top of the postpile. It's a fairly short, pleasant walk with a little uphill. At the top, the hexagonal pattern of the columns can clearly be seen. Why are they hexagons? I guess the same reason ice crystals are hexagons; it's the secret of the nature.

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  • Rainbow Falls

    Rainbow Falls is so named because a rainbow is always seen around the falls. You can see a small portion of it in the attached photo. Another unique feature about the falls is that, the water actually drops 100 feet over a cliff of vocanic lava columns. In the photo you can see the rock formation next to the falls is similar to the postpile.

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Devils Postpile National Monument Restaurants

  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    by goingsolo Written Sep 10, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There are picnic tables but no facilities here. There are restaurants at Mammoth Mountain and plenty of places to pick up provisions before heading out. If you're planning to spend a day or more in this area, make sure to bring food and water with you before heading out to the monument

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Devils Postpile National Monument Transportation

  • Shuttle Bus

    The road from Mammoth Mountain main lodge down to the Reds Meadow Valley is mostly single lane and somewhat trecherous. Combined with the fact that there are a very limited number of parking spaces available for private vehicles, visitors must take a shuttle bus when visiting the Devil's Postpile. This increases safety, reduced traffic congestion,...

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  • Reds Meadow Shuttle Bus

    Unless you visit the monument after 7:30 a.m. or after 7:30 p.m, you are required to take the shuttle bus to the monument. Although I support the park system's shuttle bus concept, I generally dislike it was I prefer to drive places myself. But I wasn't complaining when I saw the steep one way route the bus had to take to get to Devil's Postpile....

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  • The Shuttle Bus

    For most of the season, you have to take a shuttle bus from Mammoth Mountain ski resort to the sights within the monument. You'll realize why as you take the ride and see the very narrow, winding road. Too much traffic would make this place a real mess. The cost is $7 a pop, and National Park Passes won't do you any good. The buses themselves...

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Devils Postpile National Monument Warnings and Dangers

  • Mudslides & Avalanches

    During the winter of 1986, an avalanche roared down this slope uprooting the trees. The following summer, as there were no trees to hold the soil together, a huge mudslide hit the same slope.

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  • They say you shouldn't do this...

    ... but how can you resist these cute little critters? After spending an hour with Belding Ground Squirrels crawling all over me, I found out that only a couple of years before, most had to be killed as they were found to be carrying Bubonic Plaque. Urban fable?

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Devils Postpile National Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • Wildlife

    In the early morning hours, I encountered several deer, including this one that was grazing right off the trail to the monument. They aren't very fazed by people, altough this one turned his back and gave me a view of his white tail, but its still a good idea to keep your distance. After all, its their home and not yours.

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  • Sotcher Lake

    I think if Devil's Postpile allows private vehicles, Sotcher Lake would probably attract a lot more visitors. The lake is actually outside the boundary of the Monument. Surrounded by Sierra forests, Sotcher Lake's water is clear and calm. Since it's outside the boundary, fishing is probably allowed. In the photo there's a small boat with people...

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Devils Postpile National Monument Sports & Outdoors

  • Great Fishing

    I didn't catch this trout, but it was the first fish I ever cleaned. My neighbour, Bob, was an avid fisherman, and went out almost every day to the San Joaquin River which ran beside our campsites. He gave this one to me, but also taught me how to clean it. I had it pan-fried in butter - it was delicious!

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  • Hiking

    Devil's Postpile National Monument is small, but it has some nice trails. First, you can try the famous John Muir Trail that cuts through the Monument. Or, you can walk from the postpile to Rainbow Falls like I did. The trail is relatively flat with great Sierra scenery. From the burnt trees there seemed to be a wildfire not too long ago.I walked...

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Devils Postpile National Monument Favorites

  • Get a National Park Service Passport

    These are really fun and spark interest in the National Park Service system. The brainchild of a marketing genius, the purchaser can get a stamp from each of the NPS sites he or she visits. The collection of these stamps, similar to postal cancellation postmarks (which include the name of the park and the date visited) become fun to collect. It's a...

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  • San Joaquin River

    The middle fork of the San Joaquin River runs through Devil's Postpile National Monument, parallel to the famous John Muir Trail. The easiest way to access the river is from the ranger station, where people gather for the Postpile ranger talk. There's also a small campground near the ranger station right by the river.

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