Mammoth Lakes, California, is a year-round outdoor adventure land with stunning scenery and a host of family-friendly activities. Set amidst nearly two million acres of forests and the towering Sierra Nevada mountains, the area offers activities such as mountain biking, hiking, and fishing in the warmer months and snowboarding and skiing during winter. Book a vacation rental in Mammoth Lakes, and you’re also just a 45-minute drive from Yosemite National Park. A condo or townhome in the north of the town gets you close to The Village with entertainment and shops. Here are nine popular things to do with kids on a visit to Mammoth Lakes.
1. Go for a Hike
The best way to explore the area is to get out on foot and follow one of the many hiking trails through Mammoth Mountain. If your family are confident hikers, take the gondola ride to the summit for truly amazing views from the top. Then make the strenuous three-hour hike back downhill. For an easier descent, get off at the mid-mountain McCoy Station gondola stop. From here it’s a moderate one-hour hike downhill. Pleasant hikes from the base include the Starkweather Trail with a shuttle ride to check out Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls. The hike to McLeod Lake is best suited for families with small children since it features an elevation of just 300 feet and a sandy beach to enjoy a cooling paddle.
2. Take a Bike Ride
In addition to cycling along the trails, you can visit the Mammoth Bike Park with more than 80 miles of single track and terrains suitable for every rider. If you haven’t taken your own bikes to your vacation rental, you can hire bikes and helmets at the park’s state-of-the-art fleet. They also offer lessons and clinics to improve skills for beginner through advanced-level riders.
3. Explore Magical Mono Lake
Take the 30-minute drive out to Mono Lake, described as “a sightseer’s fairy tale.” This saltwater lake enjoys a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that attracts ospreys and other birds to feed on the brine shrimp. When freshwater springs flow into the lake, the chemical reaction causes amazing tall spires, known as tufa towers, to form. Stop into the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center located just north of the small village of Lee Vining on U.S. Highway 395. Here you can see some amazing interpretive exhibits and follow short trail wind to the shoreline with information about the flowers and wildlife along the way.
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4. Learn to Rock Climb and Zipline
The Mammoth Adventure Center is a great way to safely introduce kids to the art of rock climbing. Experienced staff are on hand to help you all get started, and with levels of difficulty from easy to nearly impossible, there’s something to challenge every member of the family. If your kids are seeking additional thrills, the center’s Eurobungee trampolines send children flying almost 25-feet up in the air to perform amazing flips and turns, while behind the center a 306-foot long zip line soars across a small creek.
5. Go Horseback Riding
Let your youngsters experience the thrill of a horseback ride with Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit on Lake Mary Road. Little ones aged three to six can sit atop one of the experienced horses or mules for a 20-minute “Walk and Lead Ride” through beautiful forests overlooking Twin Lakes. Kids aged seven or older can join in hour-long rides during which friendly guides point out interesting sights along the way. There is a range of longer rides for older children and adults, including a full-day ride to Barney Lake where you can spend time hiking, fishing, or relaxing. They are open from mid-June through September.
6. Go Boating
Take a boat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard out on one of the lakes to gain a unique perspective on the wildlife. Crystal Crag Boat Rentals hires out motor boats and pontoons from May 26 through October 10, weather permitting. Pack a picnic, fill the cooler with drinks, and head out across Lake Mary to seek out secluded beaches. Keep a lookout for bears and deer. Lake Mary Marina and Store also rents out boats along with paddle boards, canoes, and kayaks.
7. Go Fishing
With beautiful clear lakes and streams, Mammoth Lakes is a great place to introduce the kids to the sport of fishing. The Trout Fly and the Troutfitter in Main Street has a fishing gear to purchase or rent, free maps, and advice. If you’re new to the sport or need to up your game, take some lessons or go out with a guide to find the best spot. The Mono County fishing season runs from the last Saturday in April to November 15 every year, while certain catch-and-release fisheries remain open year-round.
8. Play Golf at 8,000 Feet
The family’s serious golfers can experience playing golf on California’s highest-elevation 18-hole championship golf course. The Sierra Star course is a full mile and a half above sea level. Call or book tee times online. Little ones enjoy Frosty’s Miniature Golf at the Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa. This cute course is open year-round, so if you visit during the winter months, your kids can experience the fun of playing surrounded by thick snow.
9. Have Winter Fun Snow Tubing
When the snow arrives, the whole area turns into a winter wonderland. Woolly’s Tube Park and Snow Play is a great place for family fun. There are merry-go-round tubes for smaller children, and kids who are at least 42-inches tall can hurtle downhill on the high-speed snow tubes. There’s a convenient rope tow to get you back up to the top again. The tubing park is open from December through mid-April, weather permitting.
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