Things To Do In Mammoth Lake With A Toddler

Things To Do In Mammoth Lake With Toddler In September

A Three-Day Guide to Exploring Mammoth Lake in September with a Toddler

Mammoth Lake was already on my bucket list well before the pandemic hit the US. Finally, we decided to go this year and I was completely blown away! Despite not being a National Park, it is still one of the most breathtaking places I have ever visited in Southern California. The stunning natural beauty far exceeded my expectations. Let’s go!

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Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts for reasonable prices.

Full Itinerary

September 21-23 in Mammoth Lake, Sidetrip: June Lake, Mono Lake and Ancient Bristlecone Forest

Originally, our itinerary included a visit to Mammoth Lake with a side trip to Death Valley National Park. Unfortunately, due to flooding, the park was closed by the time we were scheduled to leave. We quickly changed our plans instead of seeing the Ancient Gems of California. We will be exploring one of the oldest lakes in North America and the world's oldest living tree.

Best Time to Visit Mammoth Lake

We highly recommend visiting during the Fall season, as it offers the perfect balance of pleasant weather and fewer crowds. The months of September, October, and November are considered the off-season, making it an ideal time to explore the great outdoors. With less foot traffic, you can fully immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Additionally, you'll have better access to parking and enjoy lower airfare prices.

Driving To Mammoth Lake: Stopovers

First Day: September 21
Los Angeles to Mammoth Lake: approximate 6 hours drive

Stop over Options After 3 Hours Drive:
  • Diaz Lake
  • Eastern Sierra Visitor Center

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september
Drove for 3 hours from Los Angeles to Lone Pine. Stop over to stretch and have some snacks at Lake Diaz.

Diaz Lake
Address: Diaz Lake, Lone Pine, CA 93545
Unfortunately, the restroom at Diaz Lake was closed.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september
Next stopover: Eastern Sierra Visitor Center

Eastern Sierra Visitor Center
Address: US-395 & CA-136, Lone Pine, CA 93545
Restrooms available here

Drove 2 more hours to Juniper Springs Resort in Mammoth Lake

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Where To Stay in Mammoth Lake

Check-in: Juniper Springs Resort
Address: 4000 Meridian Blvd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
3 days 2 nights: 350 USD

Juniper Springs Resort: Ideal Location and Impressive Amenities

Juniper Springs Resort has been the perfect place for us to stay while exploring Mammoth Lake. We were able to easily access all the sights we wanted to see thanks to its central location.

The resort's amenities are top-notch, including a well-equipped kitchen, beautiful mountain views from the balcony, and the added relaxation of hot tubs and a heated pool. For those who don't want to miss their workout routine, there is even a fitness room available.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Room Upgrade: Memorable Stay at Juniper Springs Resort

The cherry on top of our stay was the room upgrade! Our room was absolutely stunning and even more spacious than what we originally booked. It truly made our trip to Mammoth Lake an unforgettable experience. 
Juniper Springs Resort felt like a home away from home, and we cherished every moment of our stay there.

Get Ready For An Unpredictable Weather

When we got to Mammoth Lake it started to get really cold even though it was September, we expected it to be warmer not winter feels. Global warming has made the weather very unpredictable now. Good thing we always packed our down jackets for emergencies like this. You just never know the weather in the mountains, I always packed along some fleece jackets, beanies and gloves in our winter emergency bags in the car. Funny thing, on our last day the weather changed and we didn’t have to wear our jackets anymore.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

5 Must-See Lakes in Mammoth Lake: Where To Go In Mammoth Lake With A Toddler

Mammoth Lake Basin is home to several large and small lakes that are worth exploring. The four most popular ones are Twin Lakes, Lake Mamie, Lake Mary and Lake George, with several smaller ones surrounding the area. Despite having a toddler with us, we were able to visit all the lakes for three days. We only went on one strenuous hike to Crystal Lake, while the rest of the time was spent driving by and relaxing with our 2-year-old boy. We also made a side trip to Mono Lake, an ancient body of water that is considered one of the oldest lakes in North America. Lastly, we visited June Lake, which is the most breathtaking lake we've seen in California (aside from the one in Tobermory, Canada).

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

1. Twin Lakes Overlook

Juniper Springs Resort to Twin Lakes Overlook
10 minutes drive

How to get there:
Twin Lakes Overlook
Address: Inyo National Forest, Lake Mary Road, Mammoth Lakes, CA

After arriving in the afternoon, we wasted no time and headed straight to our first lake to make the most of our visit.

Twin Lakes Overlook is just a short drive from Juniper Springs Resort and that’s why this is a great place to be when in Mammoth Lake. Take in the stunning panoramic views of the mountains and Twin Lakes from this vantage point. If you have your bike with you, there's also a bike path that you can take to explore the area.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

The parking area at the overlook is quite small. During our visit, only two cars were parked there. However, during peak season, parking can be a challenge due to the high volume of visitors. This is precisely why we recommend traveling during the off-season, when crowds are less frequent, and parking is less stressful, providing a peaceful and enjoyable travel experience.

Next, take a quick drive to Lake Mamie Vista Point – just a minute away.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

2. Lake Mamie

1 minute away from Twin Lakes Overlook

How to get there:
Lake Mamie Vista Point
Address: Lake Mamie, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Lake Mamie Vista Point is a minute away from Twin Lakes Overlook. We had a quick dinner here at Lake Mamie as the wind got stronger and the temperature went down pretty quickly.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

A Quick Stop at The Village Before Heading Back to the Resort

Lake Mamie Vista Point to The Village
8 minutes drive

How to get there:
The Village At Mammoth
Address: Minaret Road, Mammoth Lakes, CA

On our way back to the resort, we made a quick pit stop at The Village to stock up on some snacks. While there, we couldn't resist buying a fridge magnet from Busy Beez General Store and some extra food supplies.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

3. Lake Mary

Second Day: Sept 22

Juniper Springs Resort to Lake Mary
12 minutes drive

How to get there: 
Lake Mary Marina
Around Lake Mary Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Enjoy Water Adventures at Lake Mary Marina

Lake Mary Marina is the perfect destination for water enthusiasts. You can rent a variety of watercraft, including pontoon boats, motorboats, kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards. The marina also has a tackle, bait and fly shop to fulfill all your fishing needs.
  • 3-Person Kayak: 90 USD for 2 hours
  • Booked from 10 AM - 12 Noon
  • Make sure to pack lunch, snacks and drinks.
  • Arrive 15 minutes before your reservation.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

First Family Kayaking Adventure

The highlight of our trip was kayaking at Lake Mary Marina. It was our little one's first time kayaking, and we wanted to make it extra special by doing it in Mammoth Lake. To balance out the weight, we opted for a three-person kayak, with my husband in the back, and my son and I in the middle. The front was left open, so our toddler could enjoy the view and touch the water. Despite the slight current and chilly September weather, we paddled through the stunning mountain scenery and enjoyed the beauty of the lake. Though we worried about hitting other kayakers and boats, the area was not too crowded, so we still had a great time. To ensure our little one's safety, we made sure he wore a Kid's Life Jacket throughout the experience.

We wouldn’t advice doing a kayak activity and a strenuous hike on the same day. We did survive but try to take it slow, we underestimated the elevation and I had a challenging climb to the summit

After having lunch at Lake Mary we drove to Crystal Lake Trailhead.
Lake Mary Marina to Crystal Lake Trailhead
5 minutes drive

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

4. Crystal Lake

How to get there: 
Location: Crystal Lake Trailhead, Inyo National Forest, Lk George Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Entrance fee: Free
Parking: Free Trailhead Parking
Crystal Lake Trailhead

Distance: 3.2 miles (out and back)
Duration: 1 hour and 48 minutes
Elevation: 839 ft
Highlights: As you ascend, enjoy stunning views of Lake George and Lake Mary. But the true gem is Crystal Lake, boasting a picturesque backdrop of snow-capped mountains that will take your breath away.

Alltrails Link
Crystal Lake Trailhead

Afternoon Hike in Crystal Lake: A Challenging yet Rewarding Adventure

Prepare yourself for breathtaking views as you ascend, but keep in mind that it may be tough with a toddler, particularly around nap time. Plan your hike for the mornings, either before or after your child's nap. We carried our little one using our Carrier all the way to the top and back to the parking area, he did walk a little bit here and there, not really sure if we want to do this again, ahahaa. Also due to the elevation, I found it challenging to hike non-stop and had to take frequent breaks to catch my breath and have some snacks. It's amazing how much having a baby can change a woman's body - what once was a piece of cake for me now requires more effort.

However, the gorgeous views of Lake George and Lake Mary while ascending made the effort worthwhile. When we finally reached Crystal Lake, the view was breathtaking, particularly with the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop. The scenery was so stunning that every push to make it to the top was worth it.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september
Gorgeous view of Lake George on our afternoon hike to Crystal Lake.

5. Lake George

One of the great things about hiking Crystal Lake is the panoramic view of Lake George from above. The breathtaking scenery makes the climb up the mountain truly worth it.

Following a long hike to Crystal Lake, we visited the village for dinner and stumbled upon a mouth-watering strawberry ice cream. Even on a chilly mountain night, this treat was a must-try when in Mammoth. It reminded us of another family-owned creamery we discovered in Tulare – Rosa Brothers Creamery. If you're visiting Sequoia National Park, be sure to make this delightful side trip. You can indulge in freshly made milk products and enjoy complimentary tastings of their unique and refreshing flavors.

Canceled Plans: Rainbow Falls and Death Valley National Park

Unfortunately, we had to cancel our plans to hike to Rainbow Falls as it is closed on weekends. Additionally, we were unable to visit Death Valley National Park due to severe flood damage.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Must-Try Ice Cream at The Village

Hugs Ice Cream
Location: 6201 Minaret Rd Suite #224, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

After trying this strawberry ice cream, I can safely say it's the best I've ever had. It even surpasses my previous favorite from Haagen Dazs.

Last Day in Mammoth: Sidetrip to Find the Ancients
Third-Day: Sept 23

Relaxing morning at Juniper Springs Resort

On the last day of our mountain retreat in Mammoth Lakes, we took it easy in the morning. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of toast and coffee while admiring the stunning view of the mountains from our balcony at Juniper Springs Resort. Although it was a bit on the expensive side, the comfort and coziness of the resort made it feel like a home away from home.

We took the 
Mammoth Scenic Loop and made our way to Mono Lake  – one of the oldest bodies of water on the continent. From there, we headed to June Lake, which we found to be absolutely stunning. Finally, we visited the Ancient Bristlecone Forest – a sanctuary for the world's oldest living tree.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Sidetrip 1: Mono Lake

Juniper Springs Resort to Mono Lake
48 minutes drive

How to get there:
Mono Lake
Address: Mono Lake Navy Beach Osprey Observation Point Lee Vining, CA 93541

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

A Journey to Mono Lake: A Visit to an Ancient, Enchanting Body of Water

After bidding farewell to the mountain, we embarked on the Mammoth Scenic Loop, which led us to the stunning Mono Lake. This body of water is considered to be one of the oldest in North America, and we were thrilled to experience it firsthand. From Juniper Springs Resort, it's a 48-minute drive to this remarkable destination.

Next stop: Mono Lake to June Lake
27 minutes drive

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Sidetrip 2: June Lake

How to get there:
June Lake Beach Parking
Address: 374 Pine Cliff Rd Bishop, CA 93514 Pine Cliff Rd, Bishop, CA 93514

Mono Lake to June Lake
27 minutes drive

If coming from Juniper Springs Resort to June Lake
30 minutes drive

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Admiring the Stunning Beauty of June Lake

From Mono Lake, we drove to June Lake for 27 minutes. The beauty of June Lake was breathtaking and it's one of the most stunning lakes I've ever seen here in California. However, my experience of swimming in the clear waters of Tobermory Lake in Canada still takes my breath away.

Afterwards, we drove from June Lake to the Ancient Bristlecone Forest
2 hrs drive

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Sidetrip 3: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

June Lake to Ancient Bristlecone Forest
2 hrs drive

How to get there: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center
Location: White Mountain Rd, Bishop, CA 93514
Entrance fee: 3 USD per person, max of 6 USD per car
Parking: Free Trailhead Parking
Schulman Grove Discovery

Distance: 0.9 miles (Loop)
Duration: 32 minutes
Elevation: 265 ft
Highlights: Oldest Trees in the World

Reminders: We left before dark as the roads are narrow and winding and definitely should try to avoid driving at night.

After having lunch at June Lake, we drove for approximately two hours to reach the Ancient Bristlecone Forest where we marveled at the Ancient Trees – home to the world's oldest living

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Exploring Schulman Discovery Trail

We took a short hike along the Schulman Discovery Trail, situated near the Ancient Bristlecone Visitor Center. It was already late afternoon when we arrived, so the visitor center was closed and we also opted for the shorter route. The trail showcases the Ancient Bristlecone Pines, which are said to be older than Sequoia trees. It was a humbling experience to be surrounded by these magnificent trees and to realize that they have been here for centuries. We made sure to show our respect to these trees and to preserve their environment by leaving everything as we found it.

Things To Do In Mammoth Lake With A Toddler

The Methuselah Tree is also located in the area and is known as the oldest non-cloned living organism on Earth. Due to our limited time, we only had the chance to explore one of the three trails near the visitor center. However, we were still able to enjoy the beautiful views and take in the peaceful atmosphere of nature.

For those who have more time to spare, here are the details of the three trails: 
  • Discovery Trail: A short one-mile loop that features Bristlecone Pines and rest benches along the trail. It's perfect for those with little ones who want to explore nature.
  • Methuselah Trail: A 4.5-mile loop that offers scenic views and rest benches. While no sign points it out, the Methuselah Tree can be found along this trail.
  • Bristlecone Cabin Trail: A 3.5-mile loop that passes by old miner's cabins and mine entrances, and features many ancient bristlecone pine trees and limber pines. This trail can be combined with the Methuselah Trail for a full 3.5-mile loop.

We highly recommend visiting the Schulman Discovery Trail. Just make sure to plan accordingly, as the roads can be narrow and tricky to navigate at night.

Things to do in mammoth lake with toddler in september

Stopover: Sierra View Overlook, California

We made a quick stop at the overlook and were met with extraordinary panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada Range's backbone.

Where to Stay For Another Night

If you're planning on exploring the Ancient Bristlecone Forest for another day, we highly suggest lodging somewhere nearby. We stayed at the Bristlecone Motel for convenience.

Ancient Bristlecone Visitor Center to Bristlecone Motel
47 minutes drive

Must-have travel planner

Planning Your Next Adventure

Don't wait for the perfect moment to start planning your next adventure. Just a little bit of research and planning can go a long way. Personally, I find it helpful to write down my itinerary with a notebook and pen. Seeing my plans on paper helps me conceptualize my journey and bring my ideas to fruition. If you're looking for a great notebook to help you organize your thoughts and plans, check out the affordable and stylish options available at Flying Starfish Studios.

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