Pet Friendly Activities with your dog in Mammoth Lakes, CA

dog friendly activities in mammoth

Pet Friendly Places in Mammoth Lakes, CA

We recently visited Mammoth Lakes with our dog and were blown away by how pet friendly the entire area of mammoth is. Many hotels in Mammoth are dog friendly and so are the hikes and trails. Be sure to check out all the mammoth hiking trails with your dogs! Mammoth Lakes is a small town along California’s Eastern Sierra mountains. Mammoth is part of the Inyo National Forest, not the National Park system like Yosemite is. Being part of the National Forest makes the area a lot more dog friendly than its nearby neighbor Yosemite. Mammoth is a fun year round destination for the whole family. The area is home to over 100 crystal clear lakes and known for its story-book backdrops.
dog friendly mono lake

When to Visit Mammoth with your Dogs

Mammoth has done a great job staying relevant year round. We aren’t into winter sports so we visited in September. Nighttime temperatures were chilly but we were comfortable in shorts during the day. During the summer, winter sports are replaced by world class mountain biking, hiking, and swimming.

Mammoth Hotels are Dog Friendly! (mostly)

Camping is always pet friendly but sites need to be booked a few months in advance. We camped at Oh Ridge campground right on June Lake. Then, we stayed at Edelweiss Lodge in town. Overall, we found that most lodges in mammoth were pet friendly.

How Dog Friendly is Mammoth Lakes?

Mammoth Lakes gets our top pet friendly rating! Not only were most accodmations open to pets, but every dog we ran into was friendly and well socialized. There were few leash rules and Calvin was able to swim freely in all the lakes. For pets who are reactive or not friendly with children, the pet friendly environment may be an issue. Expect many children and on leash greetings. This is something to keep in mind for more sensitive dogs.

The Town of Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes has a town center with a ski village, great food, and cute shops. The town is more touristy than the lake campsites. We ate at The Eatery – a restaurant/brewery with community style outdoor seating and lawn games – Pet and kid friendly, plus great food with fast service. For dessert, HUGS ice cream will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Map of Pet Friendly Mammoth Lakes & Trails

dog friendly hiking trails in mammoth

Mammoth Adventure Center. Is Devil’s Postpile Dog Friendly?

The center of Mammoth Lakes boasts one of North America’s best recreation centers. We visited in the summer, when Mammoth Mountain is converted into a mountain bike path – the path is clearly carved out and we saw many children biking down from 11,000 feet. The base of the recreation center has children’s activities, a gift shop, access to the Mammoth Mountain trailhead, the gondola, and shuttles to the Devil’s Postpile trailhead to Rainbow Falls. This area IS a tourist attraction so prepare for crowds – the rest of the Mammoth area is quieter.

Devils Postpile to Rainbow Falls – Devils Postpile National Monument is a unique basalt rock formation in the Red Meadows Valley. From the monument you can hike to Rainbow Falls on the San Joaquin River Valley. The mist from the falls turn rainbow in the afternoon sun. The hike is 4.5 miles, with slight elevation and will take a few hours to complete. To get to the Devils Postpile Monument during the summer months you must take a shuttle bus from the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center (you can drive up yourself if you arrive before 7am). This creates a few complications:
The crowds
From Noom – 3 PM the wait for the shuttle bus was about 1 hour. By 3pm you could just walk up to the bus. The bus comes by every 15-20 minutes.
Pets on the Mammoth Shuttle Bus
The monument and the trail are pet friendly. HOWEVER the bus system has a rule that ALL dogs must be muzzled while on the bus no matter how friendly they are. They have muzzles for sale at the shop for 10 dollars and they enforce this rule very strictly. Once off the bus, the muzzle can be removed. Our bus tickets were $8 each.

The Mammoth Mountain Gondola is Dog Friendly – Dogs can go on the Gondola to the top of Mammoth Mountain. Gondola tickets cost  $35 each but are free on the way down if you hike to the top (11,053 ft). This is a tourist trap for sure, although the view is great and we fell for it.

Minaret Vista – Before heading out of the recreation center, you can check out the Minaret Vista for a scenic lookout over the Sierra Nevada valley.

Other Dog Friendly Activities in Mammoth

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs – The Mammoth Area has an abundance of natural hot springs and most of them are pet friendly. The dogs are not allowed IN the hot springs but this is unlikely to be an issue. Calvin wouldn’t even get close to the steaming water. Wild Willy’s offers exceptional views while sitting in a natural hot tub. We arrived at 7am after watching sunrise at Convict Lake – by the time we left at 8am, the crowds were arriving. From the parking lot, follow the wooden path to the springs about 1/4 miles away. If you are interested in camping, you can have an entirely no frills (no bathroom or shower) camping experience around the parking lot. If you are camping, make sure to check regulations as the parking lot land and hot spring land are each owned by different entities – you cannot camp on the hot spring land. We met many friendly off leash dogs and Calvin enjoyed running freely through the fields while we enjoyed the water. There are roaming cattle so make sure your dog is ok with farm animals before unleashing him. The cattle keep to themselves so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Inyo Craters – The Inyo Craters (AKA 200 foot holes in the ground) were created as a result of underground steam blasts. At the bottom each crater, turquoise lakes have formed. The hike to the craters from the parking lot is about 1 mile with moderate incline.

Dog Friendly Lakes & Hiking Trails in Mammoth

We spent most of our days hiking and checking out the lakes that Mammoth has to offer. We highly recommend the early wake up call to see the lakes at sunrise – The silence and serenity is magical. For sunrise lakes, we recommend looking into lakes with parking lots right at the lake. This will avoid hiking in the dark (and bears).
On the subject of bears – the most aggressive subspecies of Brown Bear, the Grizzly has been extinct in California since the 1920s. This is not well known since there’s a Grizzly on the California Flag! You’ll only find Black Bears in California which tend to be small (3 feet on all fours, females weighing only 200 pounds) and non aggressive. We did not carry bear spray. Regardless, even the nicest bear will attack if threatened so read up here on what to do if you run into a bear with your dog.

Check out Some Lakes

Mono Lake is Dog Friendly! – The BEST time to visit Mono Lake is at sunrise. Once you arrive, it is a .4 mile paved path to the lake. We arrived at 5:50am and watched the sunrise until 7am. Mono Lake has no natural outlet and so water only escapes through evaporation leaving behind a high salt content. The salt content makes for picturesque mirror reflections on the water. The 760,000 year old lake is surrounded by beautiful Tufa (limestone) towers. Dogs must remain on leash at this one – if your dog likes to swim this is especially important since such high salt content is poisonous to dogs.

June Lake – We camped right on June Lake at the Oh Ridge campground. June Lake is located right in between the famous Mono Lake and the town of Mammoth. The lake is great for kayaking, fishing, swimming, or just basking in the sun. The main beach requires dogs to be on leash but if you walk a little further around the lake they are allowed to be off leash.

Dogs are allowed at Convict Lake – Convict Lake was another one of our sunrise lakes. It is surrounded by mountains and desert foliage. We arrived at 6am as the fishermen were getting their boats onto the water. We found a quiet outlet for Calvin to splash and he happily ran around the lake – we only ran into one fisherman during our entire walk. The walk around Convict Lake is an easy 2.5 miles.

Gull Lake – The town of June Lake can be found right in between June & Gull Lake. The main reason to visit town is in conjunction with the 2 mile walk around Gull Lake. The lake is quieter than June Lake, and has a campground with direct lake access.  After our stroll around the lake, we headed into town for a walk down main street and enjoyed sandwiches on the patio of the Alpine Deli & Pizza Co.

Lake George, Lake Mary, and Crystal Lake – These three lakes are adjacent to each other. In the below photo you can see the orange sun setting on Lake Mary, with Lake George in the foreground. Lake George and Lake Mary can be driven to without hiking but Crystal Lake requires a 1-1.5 hour hike with moderate incline. The Crystal Lake trailhead starts at the Lake George Campground. The signs advertised a one mile hike but we quickly realized that this was measured as the crow flies….the trail is actually about 1 hour of uphill and rocky terrain (sometimes confusing and not well marked) and then 30 minutes of downhill to get to the lake over the mountain. Luckily, your way back is mostly downhill. The timing for this hike is important if you are trying to see it for sunset. We made the mistake of setting out too late and by the time we reached the lake, the sun had set and we hiked back in the dark. Hiking in the dark in bear country (granted it’s just black bears) was definitely not ideal.


For Next Time….
Next time, we’d love to mountain bike down Mammoth mountain and take a boat out onto one of the lakes.
Mammoth is up there in most picturesque places we have visited. The area is more pet friendly than Yosemite and less crowded than Tahoe. We’ll be back!


Catch me by the Lake(s)
-Your Pal Cal

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