4 months ago, I felt our family needed a green getaway. Away from the city. A refresh from our 10 hr. a week LA commutes. A serious mental check-out from work emails. I was committed to make it happen.
My yearning to be fully immersed in green lush trees, with birds chirping and the smell of nature came to fruition. With loads of research and a sprinkle of planning procrastination, we made our journey up to Mammoth Lakes happen!
In case you need some ideas for a solid itinerary, here you go :). If you're anything like me, and rely on word of mouth and direction from others, this is the perfect RV road trip agenda. You can alter this agenda simply by getting a cabin and/or tent camping.
If reading is not your jam, click here for a summary video of our adventure.
Important Note: summer reservations are very difficult to get in last minute fashion. I strongly recommend you make reservations at LEAST 6 months in advance.
If you're driving from Los Angeles, you'll likely have to take the 14-N to the 395. Mammoth Lakes is roughly 5 hours from LA, depending on where you're driving from.
Roughly 2.5 hours past Lancaster, you'll find the perfect pit stop for you and your kids/dogs/friends to experience a scientific adventure.
Erik Schat's Bakery
Mammoth Yosemite Airport (Pick Up Rent A Car)
Twin Lakes RV Resort
Buckeye Hot Springs
Discover Twin Lakes
Bodie Historic National Park
Mono Lake Tufa National Reserve
Icecream stop in Mono Lakes City
Mammoth Adventure Center
Devils Post Pile
Mammoth Brewery Company
Get your final bike ride in
Go back to Eric Schat's Bakery!
Fossil Falls on Highway 395
A magical, geological adventure. Less than 1.5 mile off the 395 N, a fine gravel road and a massive parking space awaits you and your family. Jump out, stretch your legs and enjoy the scenic walk towards Fossil Falls. My 5 year old didn't appreciate a 6AM high-energy wake up call, so I did not get to enjoy the journey down to the actual falls. The photos here were taken at the entrance in. The rocks sprinkle all over the drive-in showing existence of over 20,000 years of geological formations.
Stop, walk your dog friends and enjoy a 6:30am sunrise.
Erick Schat's Bakery in Bishop, California
You're getting really close. Everyone in the car is either sleeping, asking you "are we there yet?" or if you're lucky like me, they're fighting and whining. This is where everyone needs a delicious baked treat from Erick Schat's Bakery in Bishop, California. First of all, everyone and their mom's mom needs to know that this INCREDIBLE bakery will give you every ounce of sensory overload you'll ever need. The racks are LOADED with pounds and pounds of glorious bread. Every shape and size of bread exists here. The Original Cheez Bread or the Chili Cheez Bread is God's cheese gift, hands down. Their turkey pot pies - divine. Turkey chili sprinkled with cheese perfection - they've got it too. Bread (every kind), Gummi bears, cookies, croissants, coffee, a deli, chocolates and more.
Besides the standard gas station stops, it's time to stretch your legs. About 10 miles into your main turn into the Mammoth Lakes town, you'll find the pristine Horseshoe Lake. If you're driving an RV, this is the perfect place to stop and park on the side of the road.
The lake is shallow enough for your toddler to flap around and cold enough to give you the refreshing wake-up splash you need. It's a scene out of a National Geographic documentary. Absolutely gorgeous and the perfect background to a family photo.
Mammoth Yosemite Airport
Pick up your Rent-a-Car (if needed)
If you're driving up with an RV, we highly recommend you rent a car or bring one with you. There is no easy way around hauling around an RV to find hidden hiking spots or hot springs. At the Mammoth Yosemite Airport, you'll find a Hertz or Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Warning, on most days, they open at 12:30pm and there's typically only one or two people running the entire airport. Good luck friend, you'll get your car eventually.
Stop 5: Search for a tiny shoe.
If your family is anything like mine, your five year old probably forgot his brand new Vans on the lake. A "MOMMMMMM I need to pooooooppppp" rush to the RV will very likely have you forget about anything you had with you prior to the mega rush. Oh yes, you best believe it was THE ONLY pair of shoes we had with us. This now meant that over 30 miles out of Mammoth, you need to figure out HOW you're going to find shoes for a child. There are no big name stores, no shoe stores and definitely no Footlocker floating in the middle of Bridgeport. Thankfully, in the town of Bridgeport, I found a Thrift Shop (cash only) that carried shoes two sizes larger than needed. I bought it anyway, in hopes that we can stuff socks in the toe section and make it work. There's also a small General Store that carried flip flops (zories if you're from Guam). Thank goodness for this place.
Twin Lakes RV Resort in Bridgeport, California
Roughly 20 minutes outside of the main town in Bridgeport, you'll find the outstanding Twin Lakes RV Resort nestled beside the lower Twin Lakes. This place is not only UNBELIEVABLY beautiful, it's loaded with so many amenities.
-.25 miles away from the lower Twin Lake
-Paddle boarding / Kayaking / Boating
-Rent an aluminum boat for $50!
-General Store/Check-in spot
-Play area with a volleyball net set-up
-Fishing supply shop
-oh, and lots of deer and bears
Note, don't accidentally leave your bag of dog food outside. A black bear WILL find it. See bear print proof below. He big and scary.
Buckeye Hot Springs
Less than 20 minutes from our campsite at Twin Lakes, we found the Buckeye Hot Springs. At the very top, revealed one of the larger springs. We met a very kind family from NorCal and sprung great conversation.
By now, you're probably pooped for the day. As we were. No camp fire place tonight...time to rest up for day two.
Day Two and Three
Soak it all in.
You're literally in the wilderness. Soak it all in. Enjoy your cup of coffee and embrace the nature awesomeness.
Explore your surroundings
Now we're all settled into our campsite and enjoying every minute of real-life nature. I have a mega itinerary but we decided to swing off path.
Twin Lakes RV Resort is surrounded by all sorts of beauty. Jump on your bikes and explore the trails. We discovered a trail that takes you to the perfect entrance to a part of the lake that's ideal for paddle boarding.
The marshmallow clouds and the divine skies are all the more reason to cruise around on your bikes.
Discover the Off-Road Trails
My husband lives vicariously through my children. He'll never admit it, but it's pretty clear he does. One day before our trip, he visited Del Amo Sports and made our boys dreams come true. Here's what that dream looks like.
More (Lower) Twin Lakes Fun
I couldn't get enough of this lake. Every and any opportunity I could get to see it, breathe it, paddle it and embrace it....I was there. How do you turn down such captivating beauty that's only a bike ride away? I mean, come on!
A scenic drive from Bridgeport brings you to a spirally, hidden road that once was home to nearly 10,000 people.
In the late 1800's, Bodie was once a booming California, gold mining town. Now it's a remarkable site and opportunity to share history with our young ones.
The tour guides share that only 5% of the town remains. It is now preserved in "arrested decay." When you walk thru the town, there are two homes open to tour and see decades of history. From a church, residences, a saloon and hotels...this place is amazing and highly recommended if you're in the area.
Random Amazing Sighting of Sheep
On our way out of the historic park, we found at least 200 sheep in a green pasture. I think the universe set this stop for us because they were perfectly beside a parking opportunity with our name all over it.
What I don't picture here is the gorgeous, loyal sheep dog barking at us to leave. One solid minute of this sight was all we needed. Thank you, sheep dog, for doing your job.
After our history lesson at Bodie State National Park, it was time for another hike (my husband's favorite). Welcome to the Mono Lake Tufa State National Reserve. This hike is about 45 minutes away from Bodie. Enough time for the kids to sulk in the AC and build up energy for hike 2. Thankfully we were able to rent an off-road pick up truck and found a not-so-friendly-for-sedans back trail.
This image will show the "tufa towers" behind Austin. This is as close as we got.
Mammoth Adventure Center
After a homemade breakfast and the tedious need to shift our RV site to another, we made our way to the Adventure Center. Now, Bridgeport is about an hour and fifteen away from the Mammoth Lakes active area. We were hitting the 2pm hour and worried that our itinerary would not allow us enough time. Thankfully, the shuttle system's hours are pretty consistent and perfectly timed to help those sunset chasers.
There are many reasons why you should visit the Mammoth Adventure Center, here's a nice list:
-Mountain Bike Trails
-Mammoth Lakes Swag/Gift Shop
The list goes on and on.
Our primary reason was to pick up shuttle tickets for our venture to Devils Post Pile and Rainbow Falls. $8 for adults and $4 for children. Note: dogs are required to wear muzzles.
The ride down from the Adventure Center is about 25 minutes with some stops.
By now, we're super excited as this was the one hike EVERYONE told me we must experience. The hike from the bus stop to Devil's Post Pile is an easy one and only about a mile in. Even with our five year old, it only took about 25 minutes to get into the site. The trek isn't treacherous at all, rocks here and there but nothing crazy.
After Devils Post Pile, you are now only an hour walk away from Rainbow Falls. We continued on the path down, and every second was well worth it.
By now, we're starving and in need for a good beer + eats.
A dog friendly, outdoor cafeteria style eating space welcomes you. This place is PERFECT for hikers, bikers and families. Racks to hang backpacking bags are strategically placed. Outdoor strung lights. Cornhole. Most importantly, beer.
To order food, you have to wait in a line (that could feel forever, especially when there's only one person taking orders). The menu offers an array of delicious foods. We celebrated our last day with their Naan tacos, Carne Asada Fries and Chicken Chop Salad. Absolutely delicious plus the orders are pretty large in size.
Time to Pack Up
We wrapped up our Mammoth Lakes vacation with our final bike ride. My last opportunity to step in the refreshing Twin Lakes. Shout out to my five year old for ruining that experience for me. Yes, he threw an expected meltdown over "being tired" and "not wanting to go".
Of course our ride ended with a travesty. Nice little knee gash to end this story. Yes there was lots of crying drama. No, I will never forget it. And yes, he's OK now.
If you don't like to read, and would prefer a visual of all the places discussed above, check out this video sharing our adventures.