Jump-start your day with an intensely aromatic coffee at theLooney Bean ($; 3280 Main St., Mammoth; 760/934-1345).
Visit a Convict. Despite its name ― hailing from agroup of jailbreakers who were apprehended here ― the clearemerald waters of Convict Lake are a supremely serene spot. Thelake is located 9 miles south of Mammoth, just off U.S. 395 onConvict Lake Road. Afterward, stroll into the aspen-shadedRestaurant at Convict Lake for a delicious lunch ($; inside theConvict Lake Resort; 760/934-3803).
Learn the ropes. Unpretentious Bishop lures rock climbersgalore, who flock to the area's stellar granite faces. Learn thebasics with an introductory climbing class at the Sierra MountainCenter ($100, reservations suggested; 174 W. Line St., Bishop;760/873-8526).
Artistic afternoon. Post rappelling, exercise your artisticmuscles in downtown Bishop. Revered outdoor photographer GalenRowell called this town home until his untimely death in 2002. Hisgenius and passion for the Sierra live on at the Mountain LightGallery (106 S. Main St.; 760/873-7700). Ogle more art 2 milesnorth of downtown, at Coons Gallery (2399 N. Sierra Hwy.;760/873-3393), which displays the work of Sierra masters RichardCoons and Robert Clunie.
A good-bye soak. The area between Mammoth and Bishop isprime hot-springs country. Stop in at Spellbinder of Bishop Books& Coffee (124 S. Main St., Bishop; 760/873-4511) for a copy ofMatt C. Bischoff's Touring California and Nevada Hot Springs. Oneof the most popular spots is the Hot Creek Geological Site, withseveral large pools along a running creek (free; 5 miles south ofMammoth Lakes, off U.S. 395 on Hot Creek/Hatchery Rd.). Thoughbathing is at your own risk and the Inyo National Forest rangerswho oversee this area don't officially recommend it, visitors havebeen soaking here for years. A dip is a great way to get refreshedbefore the drive home.