Take Highway 14 and 395 for 310 miles and you reach the exit to Mammoth (Highway 203). Drive through the town and turn right on the road to Devils Postpile and Red's Meadow. The road reaches a pass at Minaret Summit (9,100 ft.) from which you can turn right for a parking area with great views. The road is restricted for further travel beyond Minaret Summit. For most of the day (after 7:00am) you must park your car at the ski lift and use the shuttle buses which cost $8 for adults. Shuttle bus stops include the trail heads for the easy short hikes to rock formations such as Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls (see pictures). The river water that tumbles over Rainbow Falls is the middle fork of the San Joaquin River, California’s second largest river.
Even more spectacular scenery can be experienced by hiking from the Mammoth shuttle bus stop at Agnew Meadows. This is a gateway to a spectacular hiking area in the Ritter Range which is made of dark metamorphic rock. This mountain range includes Mt. Ritter, Mt. Banner and spectacular cliffs called the Minarets. It’s about 4 miles by trail to a junction with the John Muir Trail at Shadow Lake. Proceed north for another 3.5 miles to reach the spectacular Garnet Lake at 9,600 feet. Mt. Ritter (13,157 ft.) and Mt. Banner (12,942 ft.) look spectacular above the lake. Farther north is the beautiful blue Thousand Island Lake which Mt. Banner rises above. Thousand Island Lake is a long day hike, 18 miles round trip, but the scenery is worth it! This area received a lot of snow last winter (2018-2019) but it is melting fast; stream crossings may still be tricky however.