Devils Postpile is a rare formation of volcanic basalt naturally arranged in 60-ft. symmetrically shaped, vertical columns near Mammoth Lakes, about 50 miles southeast of Yosemite National Park. Devils Postpile National Monument consists of 798 acres of land surrounding Devils Postpile that was designated by President Taft in 1911 to protect the natural environment. Current scientific studies indicate that between 80,000 to 100,000 years ago, hot basaltic lava flowed into Red’s Meadow Valley but was obstructed by other geological features, causing the lava to form a natural dam. As the lava cooled, it contracted to form hexagonal columns. Approximately 65,000 years after it cooled, a glacier flowed through the valley revealing and polishing the surfaces of Devils Postpile’s vertical basalt columns.
Devils Postpile National Monument provides visitors with many opportunities for recreational activities such as camping, fishing and horseback riding. Hikers and backpackers enjoy exploring the Pacific Crest Trail that passes nearby on its long and winding path all the way from British Columbia in Canada to the American border with Mexico. One of the most famous trails in the United States, the John Muir Trail, also leads hikers through this area.
The San Joaquin River flows through Devils Postpile National Monument. Its waters nourish the lush foliage in Red’s Meadow Valley and provide a beneficial habitat for 4 different species of trout. Visitors can enjoy trout fishing and use the designated picnic areas. A 2.5-mile hiking trail leads visitors from the Ranger Station to Rainbow falls, which plunges more than 100 feet into the San Joaquin River. This waterfall was named Rainbow Falls because many beautiful rainbows appear in its mist during the summer. Tired hikers can take advantage of the return shuttle bus service at Shuttle Bus Stop #9 located at the Rainbow Falls Trailhead to transport them back to the Ranger Station.
Depending on the weather, Devils Postpile National Monument usually opens in mid-June and remains open during the summer until late October each year but it is closed during the rest of the year because of hazardous snow conditions. The National Park Service provides shuttle bus service from Devils Postpile to Red’s Meadow Valley in order to reduce traffic congestion and pollution and protect sensitive natural resources from damage. The shuttle bus is free for children who are under the age of three. The cost is $4 for children who are three or older and $7 for adults.
Peter Cross is an accomplished creative writer who has produced hundreds of articles for many different clients since 2006 when he retired from his consulting business.