Getting to know the Eastern Sierra
Spend today exploring the Mammoth Mountain area, where locals swear by the protein-laden breakfasts at the Stove ($; 644 Old Mammoth Rd.; 760/934-2821). Pack lunch for an activity-filled day; the Good Life Café ($; 126 Old Mammoth Rd.; 760/934-1734) has healthy sandwiches.
Hike up. Boasting 40- to 60-foot-tall columns of blue-gray basalt, Devils Postpile National Monument (760/934-2289) is a visual reminder of this area’s volcanic past. To get there, hop on the shuttle bus ($7) that departs every 30 minutes from the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center, near the gondola. Then try the 2 1/2-mile hike past Devils Postpile and on to spectacular 101-foot Rainbow Falls.
And zoom down. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s excellent Mountain Bike Park (passes from $31, $64 including rental; 760/934-0706) has become required riding for knobby-wheel enthusiasts. More than 80 miles of lavalike single-track trails mean lots of good options for burly bunny hoppers and beginners alike.
Follow the sinking sun. As the shadows grow longer, head to the Minaret Vista, about 1 1/2 miles past the ski area’s main lodge along State 203. Linger over the view, which encompasses the San Joaquin River Valley, Banner Peak, Mt. Ritter, and the sawtooth Minarets, named for their resemblance to mosque towers.
Eat like a Viking. For dinner, head to Restaurant Skadi ($$$$; Wed“Sun; Old Mammoth Rd. and Chateau Rd., Mammoth Lakes; 760/934-3902), named after the Viking goddess of skiing and hunting. The Scandinavian-inspired fare includes pan-roasted salmon, venison, and roast duck with lingonberries.