MEL­LOW MAM­MOTH

You’ll fall in love with East­ern Sierra re­sort dur­ing au­tumn

The Oakdale Leader - - 209 LIVING - By DEN­NIS WY­ATT

MAM­MOTH LAKES — Mam­moth Lakes is the East­ern Sierra’s an­swer to Yosemite Val­ley.

It’s got worldly mojo, is sur­rounded by seem­ingly end­less won­ders, and is even crawl­ing with peo­ple dur­ing peak sea­sons.

And while it doesn’t quite ex­pe­ri­ence grid­lock as Yosemite Val­ley does, it is just as dif­fi­cult to get the feel of being in the Sierra wilder­ness with two Star­bucks, fast food havens, as well as trendy din­ing and stores, it is def­i­nitely more ur­ban than back coun­try when com­pared to the much tram­pled Yosemite Val­ley.

Noth­ing ru­ins a day of hik­ing past pris­tine lakes be­low ragged peaks than pass­ing by places of­fer­ing fast food burg­ers as you re­turn to where you’re bed­ding down for the night.

Cut­ting Mam­moth Lakes some slack, it is a year-round city of 8,000 peo­ple that is at the base of a world-class ski re­sort. And if the get­away you are seek­ing is a cou­ple of notches above back­pack­ing or stay­ing in a low key lodg­ing in a place in the Sierra when the only night life af­ter the sun goes down is noc­tur­nal wildlife and still be in easy strik­ing dis­tance of wilder­ness, then Mam­moth Lakes is per­fect for you

Re­gard­less of the Sierra ex­pe­ri­ence you’re seek­ing then fall in Mam­moth Lakes fits the bill.

Af­ter La­bor Day, the crowds thin out, the Times Square feel of “The Vil­lage” where many vis­i­tors to Mam­moth flock mel­lows, and lodg­ing costs drop. And as the sea­son pro­gresses you can en­joy a con­cen­tra­tion of earth tone rain­bows of strik­ing fall col­ors tough to repli­cate else­where in the Sierra.

There are nu­mer­ous hik­ing op­tions across the spec­trum from easy and mod­er­ate to stren­u­ous.

If you just want to hike, I could fill pages singing the praises and de­scrib­ing trails in the Mam­moth Lakes re­gion. The rel­a­tive lack of peo­ple and the abun­dance of hik­ing op­tions into the high coun­try is what I like about Mam­moth in the fall.

But as­sum­ing you are look­ing for a re­sort­style ex­pe­ri­ence here is what Mam­moth Lakes has to of­fer dur­ing the fall:

He­li­copter tours that are ar­guably the best op­tion for grab­bing in­cred­i­ble aerial pho­to­graphs in the East­ern Sierra short of char­ter­ing your own he­li­copter.

In­spir­ing views from the Panorama Gon­dola at Mam­moth Moun­tain ride.

The end­less moun­tain and road bi­cy­cling op­tions. Although the Mam­moth Moun­tain Bike Park known for its down­hill trails and tech­ni­cal fea­tures closes for the sea­son af­ter La­bor Day, hit­ting trails and roads on a self­pow­ered two wheeler won’t dis­ap­point.

There’s plenty of events on the fall sched­ule (check out Out­side on the East­side events at www.vis­it­mam­moth) from sym­phonic con­certs and reper­tory theatre to an Ok­to­ber­fest and var­i­ous arts and craft en­deav­ors.

Most of the pop­u­lar restau­rants now stay open in the fall mak­ing din­ing an eas­ier ex­pe­ri­ence with­out long lines and waits. An ex­am­ple is The Lake­front — a pop­u­lar din­ing spot that is dif­fi­cult to snag a reser­va­tion given it has just 10 ta­bles.

Not only is lodg­ing less ex­pen­sive but most camp­sites and cab­ins that are hard to come by in sum­mer are avail­able into Septem­ber and even into Oc­to­ber, weather per­mit­ting.

But more im­por­tant there are less peo­ple — a lot less peo­ple.

The trail­heads for some of the pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions have shut­tle bus ser­vice that is manda­tory to use dur­ing cer­tain times because of the crowds drawn to what na­ture of­fers in the Mam­moth Lakes re­gion. In the fall the num­bers drop off.

Among the many won­ders of na­ture that await at Mam­moth Lakes are:

Devils Post­pile Na­tional Mon­u­ment that is open into Oc­to­ber. A one mile round trip hike al­lows you to take in a unique ge­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tion cre­ated 100,000 years ago fea­tur­ing

Photos cour­tesy Mam­moth Lake Tourism

PHOTO ACROSS TOP: Hik­ers en­joy the fall col­ors on a trail out­side of Mam­moth. PHOTO BY HEAD­LINE: Fall color near Mam­moth. TOP PHOTO: Fall col­ors at one of the many lakes in the Mam­moth Lakes basin. BOT­TOM LEFT PHOTO: The Vil­lage in Mam­moth of­fers con­dos for rent as well as a wide va­ri­ety of din­ing op­tions along the plaza. BOT­TOM RIGHT PHOTO: Rain­bow Falls at the Devils Post­pile Na­tional Mon­u­ment.

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