National Parks/Monuments

Devils Postpile National Monument

There are beautiful views throughout Devils Postpile National Monument.

Not many people have visited Devils Postpile National Monument because it is so far off the beaten path. This geologic feature is located on the east side of Yosemite near a small town called Mammoth Lakes.

 

It can be a bit of a headache to visit Devils Postpile, too, because you can’t drive to it. It requires taking a shuttle from the Red Meadow ski resort area. But the shuttle system is really nice, and there is plenty of parking. We parked a long way down the road and rode a shuttle to the kiosk where you buy tickets to Devil’s Postpile. The shuttle tickets are purchased at Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center. After purchasing tickets,  get in line to get on the shuttle. We waited for about 20 minutes, but we arrived early and the line kept getting longer.

Waiting in line for the shuttle!

The ride on the shuttle takes you through the gate into Devils Postpile National Monument. The shuttle comes every 20 minutes between 10-4, and every 45 minutes from 4:45-7 pm. There are 10 stops in the monument. Here is what you’ll find at each stop.

Our boys think riding shuttles is the best.

Stop 1

This stop is for Agnes Meadows. There is a short trail here to wander through the wildflowers. It is only 0.5 mile roundtrip, and easy. We didn’t have time to stop, but it would be a perfect walk for families.

Stop 2

Starkweather Lake is located at stop 2, so exit the shuttle and take a look. There is a longer trail to Minaret Vista, but this didn’t seem like a necessary stop for our family.

Stop 3

This stop is for Upper Soda Springs Campground. Obviously if you camp in the park, you are allowed to drive in, but if you want to travel through the park, you will need to ride the shuttle. This stop allows you to return to the campground.

Stop 4

This is another campground, Pumice Flat campground. We did not stop here either.

Stop 5

Minaret Falls Campground is located at stop 5. We need to come back and camp here someday since there are a few different spots to try.

Stop 6

This is a must stop. There is a small Visitor’s Center, a few picnic tables, and a trail to the postpile. The first thing we did was take the short 0.8 mile hike out to Devils Postpile. The postpile is a large rock wall that was formed by a volcano a long time ago. Hexagonal columns have since been bent by a glacier that sheared off the top of the hill. It is a pretty cool looking feature. There is also a steep trail to the top to look at the postpile from a different angle, but we decided to skip the steepness.

The trail starts near the shuttle stop.

The trail follows the San Joaquin River most of the way. There are also interpretive signs along the trail.

The walk to Devils Postpile is flat and easy.

This formation is so interesting.

Devils Postpile is definitely a unique place.

At the tiny Visitor’s Center our boys did the Junior Ranger program, and we had a picnic lunch. We also walked down to the river and watched some fishermen fly fishing on the river.

We had a picnic lunch near the Visitor’s Center and finished the Junior Ranger booklets.

We love the Junior Ranger Program.

There are some beautiful spots in this park.

There is also a trail to Minaret Falls from stop 6, one of the two waterfalls in the park. The trail is 3.0 miles roundtrip, and easy. We were saving our energy for Rainbow Falls, which is a little longer. Minaret Falls would be a perfect family hike, and if we had two days, we would have been back to hike it the next day.

Stop 7

Scotcher Lake is the highlight at stop 7. There is a 1.5 mile guided nature trail that walks around the lake that is listed as easy to moderate. This is the only stop that does not have restrooms.

Stop 8

Another campground is located at stop 8, Reds Meadow Campground.

Stop 9

This is the stop we were waiting for. From here you can hike to Rainbow Falls. It is a 2.6 mile roundtrip hike, but it is moderate. You drop from the shuttle down to the falls, which are beautiful and worth every step. But you climb out, so be prepared. You can read more about Rainbow Falls on our post.

Rainbow Fall is amazing. Definitely worth the trip!

Stop 10

Finally, we rode to the last shuttle stop. There is a small cafe there, and we had ice cream. It was really good, and we could have done lunch or dinner as well. They also have a small store for those who are camping and might need to pick up some supplies, and there are a few souvenirs, too.

There is a small cafe at the end of the shuttle line.

We enjoyed taking a break from hiking here.

Ice cream makes everything better.

We were on such a tight schedule, that we weren’t able to try everything there is to offer in Devils Postpile National Monument, but we enjoyed the day that we spent. There is a lot of family friendly hiking, and interesting geological features to see. The ride on the shuttle was even beautiful through the forest terrain. If you are in the area, spend a day checking out Devils Postpile.

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