Devil’s Postpile National Monument
Compared to the area’s other national parks, Devil’s Postpile National Monument (Minaret Vista Rd., 760/924-5500, www.nps.gov/depo, summer only, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., adults $7, children $4) seems small. But what you’ll see is unique to the region.
The gem and namesake of the park is the strange, unbelievably natural rock formation called the Devil’s Postpile. It’s hard to imagine that the near perfect straight-sided hexagonal posts are a natural phenomenon, created by volcanic heat and pressure. You have to see it to believe it.
Less heavily traveled than many other parks, you’ll also find hikes to serene meadows, unspoiled streams, and perhaps even see the occasional deer grazing in the woods. If you’re lucky, you might get a trail all to yourself for a while.
Also part of the Monument is the crystalline, beautiful Rainbow Falls. The thick sheet of water cascades 101 feet down to a pool, throwing up stunning rainbows of mist. For the best rainbows at the falls, hike the three miles (round-trip) from Red Meadow toward the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky.
In an effort to limit traffic on the narrow road down into the Monument, Devil’s Postpile National Monument runs a shuttle into the park that’s mandatory for all visitors during high season (vehicles with handicap placards excepted). The shuttle runs every 20–30 minutes between Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and Reds Meadow Valley 7 a.m.–7 p.m. mid-June–mid-September.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition