We never miss an opportunity to visit a park, monument, or historic site operated by the National Park Service. Usually the natural landscape/features that are the reason for the area being designated as a national park or monument are incredible and not to be missed. Similarly the historic sites often recall significant events in the history of the area, sometimes preceding the establishment of the U.S. Devil's Postpile National Monument is located in the Reds Meadow area of the Inyo National Forest just west of Mammoth Lakes. The main attraction is a unique geologic feature that is the result of volcanic lava cooling in such a way as to create hexongal vertical columns that thrust upward where it outcrops from the hillside. Located near to the scenic San Joaquin River and not far from camping and fishing areas of Agnew Meadows, Upper Soda Springs, Minaret Falls, and Reds Meadow, the national monument and surrounding area is a nice setting for some outdoor adventure including hiking, camping, and fishing.
Because of limited accessibilty into the Postpile and Reds Meadow area, visitors must use a shuttle bus. See my Devil's Postpile transportation tip for details.
A Devil's Postpile page is obligatory for a "Mammoth Lakes' section. It is about 14 miles from the town. During the summer, because of crowds, the road down the valley from the Minaret Summit is restricted to shuttle buses during certain hours of the day. You either have to go before or after the hours of the shuttle buses to drive down into the valley.
At the Minaret Summit a wonderful viewpoint gives both hikers and non-hikers wide views over the upper valley of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin river and on to the mountains surrounding - the awesome Minarets, Mt Ritter, Banner Peak, ....
The Devil's Postpile is a small national monument deep in the valley below. The whole area around Mammoth is alive from recent vulcanism and earthquakes. There are cinder cones to be found throughout the area - look at Mammoth Mountain, itself! The Postpile is a series of basaltic columns that have been exposed over time. A trail takes you around the Pile and up to the top where you can experience the geometry of the columns up close. Another nice and popular hike in the monument is to Rainbow Falls whihc is shown on others' Mammoth pages.
Devil's Postpile is one of the most unusual National Monuments. It is a short distance from Mammoth Lakes, by car and then shuttle bus. The monument is worth a visit to see its unusual structure. If you have more time, and a day or more would be highly recommended in this area, hike some of the nearby trails to some great views of the surrounding area. A farther journey will take you into the Ansel Adams Wilderness and the pristine hidden lakes and other sites hidden from the beaten path.
For more information, feel free to browse my Devil's Postpile National Monument page.
In the summer, you take the bus shuttle from Mammoth Mountain Inn to Devil Post Pile Monument. It's a short hike to this unusual natural formation, about 3 miles r/t. Easy hike. Continue onwards after viewing Post Pile to Rainbow Falls and Lower Rainbow Falls.
Yes, it IS touristy, but it's really neat! I can see why it's such a popular attraction. The rocks are over thousands of years old and have formed due to volcanic activity over the years. This place was originally settled by Basque farmers in the 1700s who thought these rocks jutting out of the ground were the work of the Devil. Hence, the name stuck until the mid-1800s when it was officially named Devil's Postpile.
The formation of Devils Postpile began when basalt lava erupted in the valley of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. As lava flowed from the vent, it filled the valley near the Postpile to a depth of 400 feet. Recent radiometric dating of rocks thought to correlate with basalt of Devils Postpile suggest an age of less than 100,000 years.